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5 engagement drivers crucial to business success in 2021

If there’s one thing we can all agree on about the COVID-19 crisis, it’s that it irrevocably changed the world of work. By digitalizing so many aspects of the workday virtually overnight, the pandemic also transformed employees’ needs and expectations. Pile on to this the amount of stress, grief, and trauma everyone has suffered over the past 12+ months, and we’re staring down a vastly different talent landscape than at this time last year. As the economy begins to rebound, employers will have to rise to the occasion and transform the way they drive engagement in order to attract and retain the best talent.

While there continue to be a multitude of different engagement drivers that impact the employee experience, there are a few key elements that are newly crucial in 2021. If you want to ensure that you’re meeting employee needs regardless of whether your team members are returning to the office, remaining remote, or doing a mix of both, you have to be prepared to address new concerns in the aftermath of the pandemic. Read on to learn more about engagement drivers and what you can do to ensure your team members remain engaged now and into the future.

What are engagement drivers and why are they so important

Engagement drivers are the key aspects of your workplace that make employees love working there. These can range from physical elements including having a comfortable workspace, to emotional elements including feeling respected and valued, to technological elements including having the tools and access needed to succeed. Engagement drivers, or the lack thereof, form a big part of why employees choose to stay with their organization year after year, or why they decide to move on to another employer. At their best, they provide a strong framework for a positive employee experience. At their worst though, they’re superficial incentives that are misaligned with employees’ actual wants and needs, draining both the business and team members alike.

For many years pre-pandemic, companies invested in fun perks such as gaming tables in the office, free food and drinks, and parties, believing that they were central to employee engagement. Unfortunately, if you subscribe to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’ll find that these efforts barely scratch the surface of what actually motivates people. With so much emphasis on ineffective engagement drivers, it’s no surprise that employee engagement levels failed to exceed 35% at any point in the years leading up to 2020. When employers started actually paying attention to employees’ health and safety, need for remote work options, and more at the beginning of the pandemic, engagement shot up to 40% for the first time ever, only to drop back down to where it had been as companies began to shift focus back away from employee support and wellbeing. If your company wants to reap the far-reaching benefits of an engaged workforce across retention, productivity, and more, it’s important to invest in engagement drivers that actually make a difference.

What engagement drivers matter most to employees in 2021

With so much upheaval over the past year, employees’ approach to work and life has changed. People have changed. The world has changed. Accordingly, employers would be extremely shortsighted to not similarly change their approach to engagement. Here are the top broad areas companies should be targeting this year to ensure they’re investing in effective engagement drivers, rather than superficial and/or outdated ones:

  1. Autonomy and flexibility. Employees want to feel trusted and empowered by their employer, not monitored and micromanaged. Much has been written about the negative effects of surveilling employees, including its impact on engagement. Employers that assume their employees will slack off without the oversight provided by an office environment demonstrate that they would rather invest in tools to make their employees more robot-like, rather than investing in actual human beings. Similarly, employees have other things going on in their lives beyond just work. They want to know that they can live their lives in addition to and alongside being high-performing team members, which means they’ll be considerably more engaged if you provide them the flexibility to work where, when, and how is best for them. Focus on making the workplace fit the employee, rather than the other way around.
  2. Digitalization and accessibility. Orient your systems and processes around usability and ease of access, and watch your engagement numbers skyrocket. Employees want to be empowered to do their best work, and then be able to disconnect and enjoy their non-work time. They don’t want to be aggravated by a tangle of systems or constantly struggling to find the information they need. After the whirlwind of the past year, it may be time to step back and take a holistic look at your technology and collaboration ecosystem and ensure that it’s optimized to provide employees a positive experience. Do you have 4 different instant messaging apps employees have to check on an ongoing basis in addition to their email? This may be contributing to disengagement as stress compounds with each message that arrives.
  3. Equity and inclusion. In addition to the pandemic, the past year has seen a reckoning with diversity and inclusion on a scale that hasn’t been reached in decades. Today, three out of four jobseekers say that the diversity of a potential employer’s workforce is important to them when evaluating opportunities. It has been an emotionally exhausting year, even more so for folx from underrepresented backgrounds whose communities continue to bear the brunt of the dual epidemics of COVID-19 and institutional racism and violence. Employees don’t want to come to work and see and experience exclusion and microaggressions. They want to work for employers whose values align with their own. Investing in making your employees feel heard, welcomed, and valued is a crucial, and too often overlooked engagement driver.
  4. Connection and wellbeing. The past year has also brought the fragility of good health into stark relief. Watching young, healthy, able-bodied people succumb to the coronavirus in a matter of days has reminded us all that our health is not something to be taken for granted. Neither is the company of good friends and colleagues. Offering usable wellness benefits, making time and space for bonding with coworkers, and other efforts that promote connection and wellbeing will go a long way towards ensuring your employees want to work their hardest for your company.
  5. Rewards and recognition. Last but certainly not least, employees want to be acknowledged for the value they bring to the organization. Let them know you appreciate them through shout-outs, bonuses, and other incentives and you’ll be paid back in increasing engagement levels. Employees are working more hours than ever, all while juggling myriad personal responsibilities and challenges, so don’t let their work go unrecognized. Make sure that managers are acknowledging their team members for jobs well done, and if you can spare the cost of a gift card here and there, remember that that could make a big difference for an employee who may have experienced changes in household income or who just needs a pick-me-up. Recognition, when delivered in ways that matter to the individual employee, is a critical engagement driver that should be a key part of every company’s strategy.

Identifying engagement drivers and effectively targeting them has been an ongoing struggle for many employers. We can make 2021 the year that changes. By following the tips above and incorporating the right systems and tools, you can hone in on the most important engagement drivers for your workforce, and significantly improve your employee experience. If you’re considering bringing in software tools to assist you in this process, we encourage you to check out Workrowd, the all-in-one platform for managing employee engagement and company culture across both on-site and remote workers. As you’re researching, don’t forget to check out the Global ERG Network as well, and feel free to reach out to us at any time to learn more or just to chat at hello@workrowd.com.

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How the culture of a company spurs the employee experience

As the U.S. begins to discuss reopening offices, it’s time to take stock of how your company culture has fared over the course of the pandemic so far. The culture of a company sets the tone for virtually everything that occurs both inside the organization with the employee experience, and outside the company with customer and employer brands. From the way that employees treat each other to the level of customer care that’s provided, company culture can be a make or break issue.

If your company wasn’t quite where it wanted to be on the culture front before and/or during the pandemic, returning to the office offers an exciting opportunity to reimagine how you approach culture building. The culture of a company is not something that can simply be decreed from the top down; your culture stems from your values, which need to be practiced every day, in every interaction. We know this may sound daunting, which is why we’ve assembled some quick tips to help you make the most of this moment to transform the culture of your company into one that everyone loves.

What is company culture and how does it impact business outcomes

The culture of a company powers a number of significant business outcomes including recruitment and retention, engagement, and productivity. Since company culture impacts employees’ experiences every single day, it’s absolutely crucial that organizations dedicate sufficient attention towards ensuring that it thrives. Ultimately though, unlike sales or marketing, it can be difficult to know just how to build a positive and productive company culture, or even what comprises it.

Company culture starts with your organization’s values. What do you, as an organization, believe in and why? Now that we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic, it may be time to reassess your values and determine whether they’re still aligned with how your company operates. For instance, if your organization has historically placed a high value on face-time, but you’re going to be transitioning to a hybrid model of working, it might be time to shift how you’re communicating that.

Similarly, your interaction norms should stem directly from your company values, and provide a structure for how employees should treat one another. As an example, one of your company’s values may relate to respect. As part of this, your interaction norms should place respect on the highest pillar, and encourage everyone to treat all others with dignity regardless of their role, background, or any other factor. 

Beyond values and interaction norms, the culture of a company stems from a wide variety of different components related to how employees and customers are treated including benefits and perks, team structures, learning and promotion opportunities, client support, and more. Due to the fact that it intertwines through so many different elements, approximately half of job seekers list company culture as being very important when considering potential employers, and nearly 90% say it’s at least somewhat important. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that nearly half of job seekers also noted that company culture was the reason they were looking to leave their current employer. Employees who are unhappy with their company’s culture are 24% more likely to quit. Perhaps that’s why more than 90% of managers say that a candidate’s alignment with the culture of the company is more important that their skills or experience.

How you can leverage company culture to supercharge your employee experience

Based on the data above, it’s unsurprising that 88% of employees and 94% of executives believe that a strong company culture is key to business success. Accordingly, how can you take advantage of this crucial moment to elevate your company’s culture and ensure a world-class employee experience? We’ve collected some quick tips below, but as noted above, it really comes down to how you treat your employees. At this point in the COVID-19 crisis, people want to know they have job security, to feel like they have the autonomy to get their work done on their own terms, and to know they have the ability to take care of themselves and their families, financially, health-wise, time-wise, and beyond.

Ensuring you’re supporting employees from the organizational level, and training and equipping managers to support their teams at the individual level, is a guaranteed way to start your culture revamp on the right foot. From that point, the following strategies can also help enhance the culture of a company:

  • Communicate clearly and consistently. Transparency and consistency in all your communications provides a strong foundation for your company culture. Employees who don’t have to worry about what something meant or what they’re not being told are inherently happier and more productive by virtue of having these distractions eliminated. By ensuring everyone feels included and in the loop around what’s happening with the company, you’ll foster more openness and collaboration between employees, and more loyalty to your organization as well because team members know they’re valued.
  • Prioritize deeper needs over superficial perks. Among the mainstays of the old approaches to company culture and employee engagement are superficial office perks such as foosball tables and free beer. While these were never particularly effective to begin with, the rise of remote working combined with the level of burnout brought on by the pandemic has rendered them wholly obsolete. Employees want to know that their companies see them as whole people with needs both in and outside of the office, so things like expanding your paid family leave policy, offering coverage for more mental health services, and mandating time off for team members to recharge will do a lot more for your culture than keeping the communal trail mix well stocked.
  • Double down on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nothing is more toxic to the culture of a company than enabling exclusion and microaggressions to flourish unchecked. The overwhelming majority of people are part of an underrepresented group in some aspect of their life whether it’s their gender, race, sexual orientation, caregiving role, veteran status, etc. This means that when you create or allow environments that are unwelcoming for some people, you’re making the overall culture unwelcoming for many knowing that they too might be made to feel less than simply for their background or circumstances. Make sure you’ve got an effective, long-term diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy in place, and infuse this work throughout all areas of your company’s operations.

Your company culture essentially dictates whether the employee experience will be positive or negative. While it’s important to streamline systems and processes and otherwise make employees’ day-to-day easier, if the culture of a company is poor, employees will inevitably have a poor experience working there. If you’re looking for ways to improve your company’s culture at this crucial time as more and more people are getting vaccinated, consider checking out Workrowd’s platform. We offer an all-in-one solution for managing employee engagement and company culture across both on-site and remote workers. You’ll gain access to a central hub for all your employee initiatives, best practice resources to support employee culture leaders, analytics, and much more.

If you’re specifically looking to ramp up your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, Workrowd also powers the Global ERG Network. We’re working to build a comprehensive ecosystem to support company culture and employee engagement in order to meet the needs of today’s organizations. Drop us a note at hello@workrowd.com if you’d like to be part of the movement.

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5 tips to maximize the impact of employee affinity groups

Employee affinity groups may just be the most underrated element in your company’s employee engagement toolbox. Are you ready to change that? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Employee affinity groups can serve a multitude of purposes, and especially now during a time of such rapid and stressful change, they can help ensure that your efforts to support employees remain agile and responsive.

Employee affinity groups are collectives of colleagues organized around commonalities including interests, backgrounds, field, and demographics. Affinity groups can be focused on a range of topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (in this case they’re often called employee/business resource groups), social impact, career development, and wellness. Even if your company hasn’t formalized any official groups, there may be grassroots efforts that are active within your organization. If you’re interested in leveraging them to supercharge company culture and employee engagement this year, read on to learn our five top tips for maximizing the impact of employee affinity groups.

How affinity groups meet crucial needs and what that means for your business

Aristotle first noted that ‘humans are social animals,’ and the statement is no less true today than when it originated. Even among introverts, having positive social interactions and a reliable support system of relationships is critical for wellbeing. In fact, one study found that feeling lonely and socially isolated is as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking an entire pack of cigarettes per day. This need translates to the workplace as well. The average person will spend 90,000 hours of their lives working; that’s a full third of their time on Earth. With nearly 4,000 days of heavy smoking – over a full decade – at stake, do your employees and your business a favor by taking steps to encourage productive connections between team members.

On that note, the evidence is clear that building strong relationships between your employees can be a boon to your bottom line. Studies have shown that workers who lack colleague friendships are significantly more likely to be disengaged and to wind up leaving the company. Another study found that 70% of employees believe that having friends at work is the single biggest contributor to a happy work life. More than half of the respondents also reported that they would decline a higher-paying job opportunity if it meant they wouldn’t get along with their colleagues, presenting a challenge to companies looking to attract and retain top talent. Poor colleague relationships and exclusion in general contribute to lower productivity and a negative company culture, both of which result in reduced business success. Luckily, employee affinity groups can counter all of this.

Top tips for ensuring your affinity groups drive positive business outcomes

At their worst, employee affinity groups exist as social organizations that may ramp up or down in activity based on who is leading them at any given time. We use the term ‘worst’ here very lightly, as even social groups can have significant positive impacts on employee morale and wellbeing. At their best however, affinity groups provide crucial support, especially for employees from underrepresented backgrounds, drive business outcomes, and enhance employer brands. The tips below will help you ensure your groups fall in the latter category, rather than being purely social.

  1. Listen to employees. In order for employee affinity groups to reach their full potential, employers must follow workers’ lead. Determining what groups will be offered through a top-down process without employee buy-in will hinder your program from the very start. When initiatives are launched at employees rather than with them, things wind up feeling forced and inauthentic. Consulting employees from day one on the other hand, ensures employee investment from the very beginning, enabling you to build successful programs grounded in a strong base of employee support and participation.
  2. Provide formal support. Once you’ve empowered your employees to determine what affinity groups should be created and who will run them, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Support doesn’t have to come in the form of a large amount of money, or even be monetary at all though; just ensure that your employees have the tools and autonomy to accomplish their objectives. Ideally, give each leader a budget and an executive sponsor, equip them with group management and marketing tools, and ensure every employee knows that active participation is both allowed and encouraged.
  3. Integrate them into business efforts. Employee affinity groups have helped companies move into new markets, launch new lines, and ensure that their products and services are inclusive for all desired customer segments. If you don’t give your groups a seat at the table, you’re missing out on a wealth of input and ingenuity. Ensure you keep your various affinity groups in mind when mapping out strategies, and don’t hesitate to consult them where relevant. This will also make them feel recognized and valued, leading to increased employee engagement and productivity.
  4. Champion their accomplishments. Building on the recognition piece mentioned in the previous bullet, don’t let your affinity groups go unappreciated. Not only does this demotivate group leaders and members, but it prevents you from reaping the full extent of the employer branding benefits these groups can confer. Advertise your groups on your website, share their work internally, and don’t forget to tell potential recruits about them. Give your groups the attention and acknowledgement they deserve, and you’ll be rewarded in kind.
  5. Connect them to a wider ecosystem. Leading employee affinity groups can be tiring. There’s member recruitment and retention, initiative planning and management, marketing and communications, and more to think about, and that’s all work that often goes uncompensated on top of an employee’s core job responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high degree of burnout associated with running an affinity group. Accordingly, it can help to connect both leaders and members to internal and external resources to help them succeed without running themselves ragged. Provide access to internal tools that can make the job of member management, promotion, etc. easier, along with outside resources like the Global ERG Network to further support them.

Employee affinity groups are critical tools in your employee engagement, company culture, and diversity and inclusion arsenals; don’t underestimate their value. If you’d like to learn more or explore opportunities to better support or expand your affinity group program, drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com. Our all-in-one platform for supporting employee affinity groups is simple to implement, and offers a wealth of tools and resources to help you drive impact.

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Employee engagement strategies for hybrid offices

Employee engagement has been a chronic issue in the talent world, and the challenge has only intensified now that many employees are working remotely. For at least two decades now, the percentage of employees who are considered engaged in their jobs has hovered around the 30% mark. At various points, this metric has budged a few points above or below, but in general it has remained largely unchanged despite extensive efforts and myriad employee engagement strategies designed to increase it.

During the pandemic, we finally saw some degree of movement as employers stepped up at the outset, driving engagement to a new high of 38%. As the racial injustice protests swelled, engagement dropped back down to 31%, only to rise again to a record peak of 40% in late June to mid-July 2020. Unfortunately, by September, it had dropped back down to just slightly above normal levels at 35%. Clearly traditional employee engagement strategies are only effective with a small subset of workers, but when employers make a concerted effort as they did in the early COVID-19 days, they can move the needle considerably. With many workforces transitioning to a hybrid model, it’s high time for some new approaches.

Why the new world of hybrid work requires a revamped approach to engagement

Employees’ expectations have shifted after more than a year of pandemic living. We’ve all been changed by this experience, and with new and different responsibilities on their plates, employees’ priorities have changed as well. That doesn’t mean that employee engagement can take a backseat though. Disengaged employees cost U.S. employers between $450 and $550 billion each year. Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability with 41% lower absenteeism and 59% less turnover. Businesses truly can’t afford to deprioritize employee engagement strategies.

Furthermore, the majority of employees want some say in where they work, meaning that for employers looking to attract and retain top talent, remote work in one form or another is here to stay. Deloitte found that 94% of the US professionals they interviewed believed they would benefit from having the option to work from home at least part of the time. Moreover, nearly one-third of employees say they would go so far as to quit their job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely. With just one in ten companies planning to require all employees to return to the office, the ascent of hybrid and fully remote workforces is assured. Accordingly, employers need to redesign their employee engagement strategies to accommodate this shift as soon as possible.

3 keys to building a hybrid workforce engagement strategy that drives impact

Employee engagement is a tricky issue, as evidenced by its immovability over the preceding twenty years. Adding to the challenge is the fact that not all employee engagement strategies will apply to all companies. In efforts to make this post as helpful as possible across different industries and situations, we’ve selected our top tips for ensuring you can keep employees engaged and productive no matter where they work:

  1. Prioritize transparency and accessibility
  • Provide all team members visibility into the full slate of employee programming you offer. Keeping everything within one system will promote inclusion by ensuring people don’t miss out on the initiatives that are relevant to them.

E.g. flyers in the lunchroom may have previously been a straightforward way to advertise an event, but now everything needs to be easily available via digital outlets.

  • Deliver your programming through multiple channels to ensure equitable access. To the extent possible, all initiatives should be available to all employees, regardless of where they work. Consider making as many events as possible fully digital, in order to level the playing field between on-site and remote employees.

E.g. if you’re running an in-person event, make sure that there is also an option to dial-in to any presentation, and provide breakout rooms for folks who can’t attend in person to still get the benefits of interacting with colleagues.

  1. Empower employees to lead
  • Your employees know what they need to feel happy and engaged, so make sure you’re asking them early and often, and truly listening to what they say. This will pay off doubly in the engagement department, as your programming will be targeted directly to employee needs, and team members will feel heard and acknowledged.

E.g. conducting quarterly surveys to solicit employee input and identify gaps and/or opportunities for improvement in your programming will help ensure your efforts deliver results.

  • Collecting employee feedback is a great first step, but there’s also an opportunity to let workers take the reins. Empowering employees to launch efforts that are important to them, from volunteering, to employee resource groups, to sports leagues and beyond, takes the burden off of People teams and shows your workers you trust and value them.

E.g. setting up a process for employees to apply to start an employee group or hold an event makes it easy to offer even more engaging programming with minimal additional overhead.

  1. Ground your efforts in data
  • We know that what gets measured gets managed, so why would you invest in employee engagement efforts without tracking outcomes? Make sure that you’re surveying employees after events and initiatives to see what they thought and how you can do better in the future, in addition to tracking interest and participation levels.

E.g. schedule short employee surveys to go out at the time events and trainings are set to end to collect just0in-time feedback.

  • As we mentioned at the beginning of this section, there are a lot of factors that influence employee engagement, so it’s important to set up holistic tracking mechanisms that acknowledge intersectionality and capture a more complete picture. Understanding who is participating in what and how active they are, as well as measuring things like belonging and employee Net Promoter Score over time can help you see what’s going well and what needs some extra attention.

E.g. creating dashboards to track various metrics across the membership in different groups or programs can help you understand what you should be doing more of and/or who might be struggling.

If you’re looking for employee engagement strategies to drive impact for a hybrid workforce, we encourage you to check out our new infographic with stats and programming suggestions to help guide your planning. Some of the information in this post is included there as well so you can have one-stop shopping. On that note, if you want your employees to have one-stop access to all of your employee engagement and company culture initiatives to ensure transparency and access across a variety of locations, check out Workrowd’s platform. We make it easy to keep all your team members connected and thriving through our innovative platform oriented around employee communities. Visit us at workrowd.com or drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com.

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Global ERG Network–HQ for employee resource groups

It’s been a while since we posted an update about the Global ERG Network here, and with a jam-packed new cohort launching soon, we figured it was probably time to change that. For those of you who are new to the Workrowd world, the Global ERG Network is a cross-company community of diversity, equity, and inclusion champions working to drive measurable change within their organizations. Oriented around employee-led collectives including employee resource groups, business resource groups, diversity councils, and sub-committees, the Global ERG Network, or GEN as we call it, provides 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers alongside best practice templates and toolkits, monthly educational events, and much more.

We’ve got our largest group of new members yet coming onboard in just a few weeks so there’s still time to get involved. While we do have the option for new members to sign up at any time, joining this new cohort will mean you and your resource group and council members can hit the ground running with all of the onboarding activities we have in store. You’ll be in good company with fellow members including Philip Morris International, Experian, and more. If you don’t want to get left behind on diversity, equity, and inclusion this year, read on to learn more about this growing movement and check out the tips we’ve included at the end to supercharge your resource groups regardless of whether you decide to join GEN.

Why outside support for employee resource groups is so important

The superheroes who lead and support resource groups and councils typically do so on a volunteer basis on top of their primary job responsibilities. They toil off-hours, on nights and weekends, rushing to squeeze prep work in between back-to-back meetings, and generally put in a lot of time that goes unacknowledged by the company. This of course presents a number of issues, including being overlooked for promotions due to having commitments external to their role, and being at significantly higher risk of burnout. Through our conversations with DEI champions across the globe, we’ve learned that the average tenure for resource group and council leaders is just 1-2 years.

Add on top of this the fact that underrepresented employees are already saddled with an additional ‘emotional tax’ in the workplace, and it’s easy to understand why providing support for resource group leaders should be top of mind. A Bloomberg article from last month defines this ‘tax’ as “the heightened experience of being treated differently from peers due to race/ethnicity or gender, triggering adverse effects on health and feelings of isolation and making it difficult to thrive at work.” A Catalyst survey found that 3 out of 5 men and women of color have experienced this burden. Black employees and employees with multiple intersecting identities are especially at risk of suffering from this emotional tax. Combining the increased workload mentioned above with the emotional tax, othering, microaggressions, and general bias that employees from underrepresented backgrounds experience makes the need for the Global ERG Network all the more urgent.

How the Global ERG Network is helping companies better support resource groups

Knowing the toll that running an employee resource group or similar effort takes on employees, we knew we wanted to do something to help. We had a number of companies ask us for help in starting employee resource groups early on in Workrowd’s history, and since we didn’t have the expertise for that we set out to find people who did. In the course of our search, we found an organization similarly looking to help companies supercharge their resource groups. We decided to team up, with Workrowd covering the technology side, and our partner bringing their diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise. Together, we launched the Global ERG Network earlier this year.

Based on our market research with DEI leaders, resource group leaders and members, HR professionals, executives, and other stakeholders, we’ve equipped the Global ERG Network with the following features:

  1. Best practice templates and toolkits. Today, most resource group and council leaders are effectively stuck reinventing the wheel when they want to do something. They have to search around on the web for activity ideas, recreate documents that their predecessors made but may not have saved properly, and try to stay up on language and law changes as well. They have to do all of this in a very limited timeframe as we explained above, so it only made sense to build a central repository of resources for them to refer to and draw upon.
  2. Monthly webinars and activities. GEN is not just for group and council leaders, though; it’s for everyone involved in employee resource groups in their various forms. Accordingly, we’ve got monthly webinars and activities to keep all members engaged and learning. Spanning career development, DEI and ERG-specific topics, and more, these sessions are designed to provide additional, specialized support for employees from underrepresented backgrounds that they may not be receiving through their companies.
  3. 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing. The experience of being in a minority group in your workplace can be a draining and isolating one. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a problem and you’re not sure any of your coworkers will understand. Luckily, GEN is here to help on that front as well, connecting individuals across companies so that at any time, members can pose questions to the collective brain trust. Particularly after a year that was so challenging in so many ways, having access to a focused community of peers can be a big help.
  4. Analytics dashboards for administrators. For some reason, there’s still debate over whether investing in DEI delivers value to the business. Anyone involved with resource groups and councils is hopefully well beyond the point of asking that question, but as long as there are doubters, DEI leaders will be asked to demonstrate the ROI of their work. For those situations, we give you on-demand analytics dashboards that show members’ usage alongside metrics like engagement and employee Net Promoter Score. Want a clear-cut investment that will show you the value being delivered? GEN’s your buy.
  5. On-call support. If we have learned anything from the box-ticking efforts of the preceding decades, it’s that a one-size-fits-all approach to DEI doesn’t work. While we are doing our best to build up a flexible repository of materials to support a wide variety of organizations and situations, we know that there will inevitably be things we didn’t cover. For those instances, we have easily locatable request buttons for users to let us know what resources they need and events they would like to see. This makes GEN akin to a concierge service for your ERGs, BRGs, diversity councils, and sub-committees, and ensures that the value of the community continues to increase and evolve well into the future.

GEN is a dynamic, first-of-its-kind community dedicated to helping every company move forward on diversity, equity, and inclusion faster by connecting internal DEI champions to a vast ecosystem of resources and support. New companies are reaching out to join every week, so if you want to establish your organization as a DEI leader and ensure your employees from underrepresented backgrounds have what they need to succeed, there’s no time to waste. Visit us at globalergnet.com, or reach out directly to info@globalergnet.com to learn more today.

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Drive informal communication among remote employees

With a shred of light beginning to show at the end of the COVID tunnel, many companies are concerned about how they will manage company culture not just for employees who will be returning to the office, but also for those who will remain at home. Company culture is impacted by a lot of different factors, and it incorporates many components across the continuum of the employee experience. While chat applications, video calls, and virtual events can all help to keep employees connected even while they’re distanced, those moments of informal communication or ‘water cooler conversations’ are often what team members miss the most.

Over the past several years, there’s been a significant shift towards aiming to deliver more and more elements of the employee experience ‘in the flow of work’. Josh Bersin coined the term in 2018 when he wrote about “Learning in the Flow of Work”. Streamlining the employee experience is undoubtedly important, but it doesn’t always provide space for the informal communication that is so crucial to driving employee happiness and belonging. As this is the first time many companies are dealing with remote and/or hybrid working on a wide scale, we’ve assembled some tips for enabling informal communication and connection for all employees, no matter where they’re based.

The crucial role that informal communication plays in company culture

Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 12,000 professionals across the U.S., Germany, and India last summer seeking to understand some of the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on employees. They found that respondents missed “being able to spontaneously walk to a coworker’s desk and discuss an issue” as well as “social gatherings at work”. In other words, they missed moments of informal communication. Interestingly, their level of satisfaction with their social connectedness with coworkers was highly correlated with their productivity when compared to before the COVID-driven transition to remote work. Employees who were satisfied with their social connectivity were 2-3 times more likely to report being as or more productive than before the switch to working from home.

In addition, both physical and mental health have suffered during the pandemic. Chatting with friends is scientifically proven to increase happiness, self-confidence, and self-worth, as well as reduce stress. It also helps to build resilience, belonging, and purpose. Employees can benefit from these improvements at all times, but especially now, when there is so much on everyone’s minds. Informal communication provides employees an opportunity to share their struggles and feel supported by a community of colleagues, without feeling that their comments may have an adverse effect on their career prospects.

How to foster informal communication for remote and flex work employees

In addition to the benefits listed above, opportunities for informal communication at work provide important time for cross-departmental relationship building, as well as the chance for junior employees to interact with and get to know more senior colleagues. It’s a crucial dynamic that makes employees feel more at home in and tied to your company, driving business outcomes like retention. Now that we’ve laid out all the reasons you need to cultivate moments of informality for all your employees, no matter where they work, let’s explore some strategies for doing so:

  1. Coffee chats. Connecting employees for one-on-one or small group sessions where the goal is simply to chat and get to know each other can help set an expectation that it’s okay to engage socially. New and/or remote employees are particularly at risk of feeling that they have to be always on and can’t risk chatting or they’ll be presumed to be slacking off while they’re not physically at a desk in an office. Scheduling chats like these will also help to build stronger relationships across departments and teams, making the whole organization more cohesive and productive.
  2. Drop-in rooms. Consider hosting a 24/7 conference room for which all employees are given credentials. The goal is to effectively provide a virtual water cooler space that employees can drop into to just take a breather. Historically, if employees had just finished a task or needed to step away from what they were working on for a moment, they could go to the kitchen or water cooler, and maybe encounter some colleagues along the way for a quick chat. Invite employees to treat the drop-in room in a similar fashion. While they will have to walk to their home kitchen to grab a drink first, they should feel free to bring it with them to the digital drop-in and enjoy it there with whomever else is in at the time.
  3. Dedicated culture spaces. Many organizations have culture channels and groups all mixed in with their other virtual workspaces. While this violates the ‘in the flow of work’ goal, we would argue that it’s actually better to separate out your culture and engagement initiatives into a separate space. The goal here is to have a dedicated place where employees can engage with all the things they love about the company and their colleagues, without it being surrounded by all of the things they’re stressed about. Part of the beauty of water cooler moments is that they give employees a chance to step away from the onslaught of responsibilities. Additionally, this enhances transparency and access to these initiatives across the organization.

Creating opportunities for informal communication is critical for organizations looking to maintain and build upon company culture for all employees. While this may be a bit more difficult when it comes to team members who are remote either all or part of the time, there are still plenty of strategies you can undertake to include them. We’ve listed a few above, but consider surveying or gathering some of your employees to ask them what approaches would most appeal to them/be most effective.

If the idea of a dedicated digital culture space appeals to you, we encourage you to check out Workrowd’s platform. We centralize all of your engagement and culture initiatives in one place, making it easy for every employee to get involved in the programming that most interests them from day one. You can find us online, or email us directly at hello@workrowd.com.

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DEI Budget 101: 4 tips for making the most of your funds

As the George Floyd trial gets underway in the wake of the first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder, it’s important that we take stock of how much progress we have and haven’t made since last summer’s widespread uprising against systemic racial injustice. While we saw marches and protests on an unprecedented scale, and more people than ever before took up the mandate to educate themselves about the history and continuing struggle with racism in the U.S., what has actually changed? One positive is that we saw more companies step up and take concrete strides to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations, including creating or increasing their DEI budget.

While it is likely too soon to tell if and how this shift will impact the workforce, especially as organizations seek to emerge from remote working, prioritizing additional funds for DEI is a critical step in the right direction. Unfortunately, figuring out how to spend those precious dollars is far from straightforward. Our post from late last year on budgeting for diversity and inclusion in 2021 has seen consistently high traffic from those looking to make the most of their DEI budget. Seeing as that post is more of a high-level overview rather than a guide per se, we felt it was time to offer something a bit more concrete to support those looking to drive real impact on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Why diversity, equity, and inclusion will be more important than ever post-COVID-19

Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and discussions have historically centered primarily around two issues: race and gender (and typically only cis). These are undoubtedly both very important. On the subject of gender, while women make up 48% of entry-level employees, just 38% of managers are female, and the gender gap only widens as you move further up the seniority scale. Moreover, 64% of women face microaggressions in the workplace, and they’re also twice as likely to be mistaken for someone in a junior position. On the race front, 42% of American workers say they have experienced or seen racism at work, which is 12% higher than the average when comparing France, the U.K., Germany, and the U.S. Furthermore, more than three-quarters of jobseekers now report that having a racially diverse workforce is important when evaluating potential employers and job opportunities.

Gender and race remain extremely important pieces of the diversity, equity, and inclusion equation. However, as we emerge from the pandemic, there are numerous other identities that should be incorporated into DEI efforts. Child and elderly caregivers have had an extremely difficult time during the pandemic and will need additional support to be able to bounce back and succeed in the workplace. Additionally, more people than ever live with a person with a disability, or now have a disability themselves after COVID-19 left many with chronic health issues. Last but certainly not least, those with mental health challenges, or who developed them for the first time during/as a result of the pandemic, will have special needs as well. All of these groups deserve to be factored into your DEI programming, as many of these roles and struggles are especially prevalent among people who are already marginalized due to race, gender, or both.

How to allocate your DEI budget to drive maximum impact

None of the information in the previous section should have come as a surprise to those tasked with managing a DEI budget. Regardless, it is important to ground this discussion in both the full breadth and depth of the issue, as well as the crucial importance of this task. We know that DEI budgets can vary wildly in size, so in efforts to make this list relevant to most readers, we’ve limited our recommendations to efforts that are applicable across a variety of circumstances:

  1. Invest in employee resource groups. We cannot stress this enough. If you can only put your DEI budget towards one initiative, it should be this. Employee resource groups should be the lifeblood of your DEI program, and can help you drastically increase the impact of your dollars. Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led collectives organized around identities or affinities (e.g. Veterans at Initech). Conduct a survey and organize focus groups to determine which group or groups you should start with, and identify your employee champions. Then invest in them. Give your employee leaders a budget to run events, trainings, etc., and watch your DEI program take off.
  2. Explore ongoing, behavior-based training options. One-off trainings don’t work as a way to sustain DEI impact over time. You can’t pay for an unconscious bias facilitator to come in and do a presentation once per year and expect your workforce to be transformed. In order to see progress, you need actionable DEI training delivered on an ongoing basis. There are a number of DEI services and tools currently on the market that deliver bite-sized lessons and nudges, so do a bit of research and see if any of them might be right for your organization.
  3. Make sure managers are on board. Our workplaces are a reflection of society at large, which means that systemic prejudice pervades our conference rooms just as much as our town squares. In many ways, managers can be the key or the curse when it comes to DEI. Requiring managers to undertake training above and beyond what the average worker receives will help guard against biased and toxic supervisors who, whether they mean to or not, create exclusive and at times outright hostile experiences and environments for employees from underrepresented groups. Investing in training and support to get managers up-to-speed on DEI and encouraging them to set a strong example will help to distribute the benefits of your funding across the entire organization.
  4. Transform your hiring & promotion practices. The average hiring and promotion processes are riddled with bias and other built-in issues that prevent people from marginalized communities from succeeding at stepping onto and climbing the corporate ladder. If you have additional funds left over after addressing the first three points on this list, consider investing in software to help you eliminate bias from the recruitment and interview process, hire an outside party to review your hiring and promotion practices, or even simply assemble an employee task force to highlight issues of equity and propose solutions. Striving for inclusive practices during the early touchpoints of the employee journey will provide a strong foundation for any other DEI efforts.

Determining how to allocate your DEI budget can be difficult, especially when we know there is so much work to be done on this front. Luckily, there are some proven strategies that can help you magnify the impact of your dollars, several of which we’ve listed above. If you’re wondering how to get started in pursuing these efforts, we hope you’ll check out Workrowd, as well as the Global ERG Network for some tips. We’re building the future of the employee experience grounded in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and we’d love to welcome you as a valued member of our knowledge-sharing community. Reach out to hello@workrowd.com if you’d like to connect and learn more.

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5 ways to combat employee burnout in 2021

We’re nearing a full year since the first stay-at-home orders were issued in the U.S., and it certainly hasn’t been an easy ride. Over the past year, employees have experienced grief, loss, disruption, hardship, illness, and more on an unimaginable scale. All of this has led to high degrees of burnout at every level of the organization. Employee burnout is a problem on a number of different fronts. First and foremost, it’s a human issue; burnout brings with it a multitude of negative mental and physical health consequences, and simply isn’t something you want to see people going through. On top of that, it’s also a business concern as burned out employees are less engaged, less productive, and less likely to stay with your organization.

As the challenges of 2020 continue to drag on into this new year, the risk of burnout is only increasing. Additionally, with many parts of the U.S. still trudging through the cold and darkness that winter typically brings, mental health concerns should be front of mind for both People teams and managers in general. Addressing burnout when employees are dealing with so many different challenges, and while most are still working from home in isolation can be difficult. In addition, many of those expected to devise strategies to combat employee burnout are suffering from it themselves. We understand how tough it is nowadays, so we’ve assembled some tips to help you help your employees counter the threat of burnout.

Why you should be paying attention to employee burnout

Employee burnout was already a problem prior to the pandemic. In 2019, Gallup found that nearly a quarter of employees felt burned out at work very often or always, while another 44% felt burned out sometimes. That means that fully two-thirds of the workforce felt burned out on the job at least some of the time even before COVID-19 came along and drastically changed the equation. According to that same study, employees in the first category of feeling burned out very often or always were 63% more likely to take a sick day, 23% more likely to visit the emergency room, and 2.6 times as likely to be actively looking for a different job. Clearly, burnout hurts in more ways than one.

Prior to the pandemic, employees who worked remotely were significantly less likely to report consistent feelings of burnout. Data from September 2019 shows that just 18% of full-time remote employees felt burned out at work very often or always, as compared to 30% of those who never worked from home. By September of 2020, that gap had closed, with 29% of fully remote employees reporting that they consistently feel burned out. Another study, also released in September of 2020, found that 58% of employees are burned out, as compared to 45% during the early days of the pandemic. Of those reporting burnout, 35% noted that it was attributable to COVID-19 and the accompanying circumstances, a significant jump from the 25% who said the same just a few months earlier. Nearly 50% of the burned out respondents attribute their struggles to their workload.

How to support employees to combat burnout in the workplace

Unfortunately, there is only so much that employers and managers can do to mitigate the broader situational issues at play that lead to employee burnout from the personal side. Increased household and caregiving responsibilities, ongoing anxiety, and simply the inability to get out of the house for very long are all factors that make it difficult for employees to stay balanced and productive during the workday. Ultimately though, there is also a lot that employers can do to better support employees through these challenging times. Here are some tips for those looking to reduce the risk and severity of employee burnout within their workforce:

  1. Empower managers. Train your managers to spot the signs of burnout, and entrust them with the tools and authority to do something about it. People teams cannot be in charge of closely monitoring every employee’s mental and emotional wellbeing at all times. Managers need to be the eyes on the ground to ensure their direct reports are positioned to succeed. When managers see cause for concern, they should have access to mental health resources to refer employees to, flexible time off policies, and user-friendly project management tools to reallocate responsibilities as needed to help the employee recover.
  2. Build in breaks. The Zoom fatigue is real, according to Stanford researchers, so it’s important to build in ways to counter it. Encourage fifty-minute meetings rather than full hours, to allow team members a few minutes to stretch their legs and get a drink or snack in between. Organize remote exercise sessions such as yoga or dancing, invite people to go on walking meetings when video isn’t required, and you can even go so far as to drop movement breaks onto people’s calendars if needed. The goal is to ensure that employees are doing something other than just sitting alone at their desks for hours on end every day.
  3. Manage expectations. Perhaps some employees have hit a point where they simply can’t produce as much as they used to in a day. That’s okay. If you ever want them to rebound to previous levels rather than simply leaving your company, you need to understand when enough is enough, even if it is less than what they would have completed in an office surrounded by colleagues. We’re obviously not suggesting that you numbly accept slacking off, but rather we’re encouraging understanding and compassion as opposed to demanding that everything be as it was when it is so painfully not. Make it okay for employees to admit they can’t handle something or can’t take on more without fear of reprisal or termination. They’ll come back stronger for it.
  4. Provide support. Right now, while the world seems to be against many of us, people need to know that their employers and colleagues have their back. Expand your benefits offerings if you can, be receptive to employee needs and requests, and last but certainly not least, ensure your team members have ample opportunities and channels to connect with each other. Whether through initiatives like employee resource groups, scheduled sessions such as virtual cooking classes or escape rooms, or simply providing digital spaces and tools for them to seek each other out, the importance of social connectivity with coworkers at this time cannot be overstated.
  5. Model taking time off. Sometimes, the only cure for burnout is to take some time off. Unfortunately, going away somewhere on vacation, the top burnout beater for those able to afford it, is pretty much off the table for the time being. In the absence of that bonus though, having a few days where employees don’t have to wake up and immediately log onto the computer next to their bed can provide a huge boost. Make sure your team members know they can take time off, and encourage them to do so as needed. Model this from the top to ensure you’re not putting up implied barriers where employees feel that they can’t take time off because no one else does. Also, just because they’ll be at home, don’t expect them to still be available on those days. Truly allow them to unplug for a bit, without mounting demands hanging over their heads.

Countering employee burnout should be a priority for every organization in 2021. Helping employees deal with and bounce back from burnout will do wonders for your bottom line, not to mention your employer brand, and will generally make for happier team members. We hope these tips will help as you consider how to best support your workforce, but if you could use some additional assistance in connecting employees and ensuring they have strong support systems to help them weather the rest of the pandemic and beyond, consider checking out Workrowd. Our platform is designed to increase transparency and connection for every employee, whether on-site or remote, and can help you ensure your workers understand the full breadth of programs that are available to them. Visit us at workrowd.com, or drop us a note at hello@workrowd.com to learn more.

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Tips for building a world-class digital employee experience

Now that we’ve been in the clutches of the pandemic for more than a year, it’s clear that the need to develop and deliver a world-class digital employee experience is here to stay. The employee experience extends from pre-hiring all the way through off-boarding, so there’s a lot to consider. If you want to ensure your company’s reputation as an employer of choice, you’ll need to do your best to reduce friction at every point in the employee journey. While that may sound like an overwhelming mandate, there are many tools out there to assist you.

For better or worse though, tools can only take you so far. Building a top-notch digital employee experience requires the right balance of automated processes, self-service options, and human elements. For instance, it’s important to provide ample information to help employees easily answer their own questions about benefits, but it’s also key to have someone available to support them in selecting the right plan for their circumstances. The ultimate goal is to streamline processes and make employees’ lives as easy as possible, while at the same time keeping costs down and freeing up People team members to focus on the tricky parts of work life that really require human support/intervention. Read on for our top tips to build a digital employee experience that delights and drives impact.

Why the digital employee experience is more important now than ever

We’ve all been through a lot over the past year. Many have lost loved ones, lost jobs, and almost all of us have lost our way of life. Mental health issues have skyrocketed; between 2019 and 2020, reported symptoms of anxiety have more than tripled, and depression symptoms have almost quadrupled. Questions about the vaccine, new strains, and what a safe return to the office could even look like abound. In order to remain engaged and productive amidst ongoing homeschooling and other household challenges. employees need to be able to easily access the information they need, communicate with colleagues, and clearly understand their objectives.

Moreover, as the economy rebounds, employers looking to attract and retain the best talent will need to offer something better than what employees can get by going to work for the competitor. Without exciting office perks, free food, and the other usual hallmarks of ‘great’ employee experiences to fall back on, companies will need to identify new ways of outshining similar job offers. Additionally, many employees have learned a lot more about what is important to them in their work lives over the course of the pandemic, so employers have new expectations to contend with as well. All of this makes optimizing the digital employee experience one of, if not the most important thing companies can do in 2021.

Five areas to focus on to upgrade your digital employee experience

There are innumerable different ways to approach building a great digital employee experience, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Accordingly, we’ve assembled some of our top recommendations to help you frame your thinking:

  1. Focus on flexibility. In a recent Deloitte study of 1,000 white-collar professionals, virtually all respondents noted that workplace flexibility was a priority for them. Two significant shifts have made building flexibility into your policies one of the most crucial things you can do to elevate your employee experience, digital or otherwise: shifting household responsibilities including child and elderly caregiving, and the forced transition to remote work which gave employees a taste of what flexibility has to offer them. Translate this to your digital employee experience by ensuring that employees have all of the tools they need to work from a variety of locations and at a variety of times.
  2. Prioritize accessibility. In order to build an enviable digital employee experience, it’s crucial to prioritize accessibility over gatekeeping. Employees shouldn’t have to constantly ask around in order to collect the documents and information they need to do their job well. Ensure that every team has a clear information management system so that employees know where to go to access relevant files, and be as transparent as possible with broader company and benefits information. According to a McKinsey report pre-pandemic, employees spend nearly two hours every day searching for information. Do your digital employee experience a favor by making sure employees can access the systems and information they need, when they need them.
  3. Set expectations. While remote working certainly came with benefits for many employees, including eliminating their commutes, it also contributed to pressure to be working all the time. This is unhealthy and unproductive for any employee experience, so clarify to your employees when they should be available digitally, and when it’s good to be ‘off the clock’. Similarly, clear is kind; without as much contact with colleagues and superiors, employees can wind up in the dark about their objectives and deliverables. Identify digital tools to guard against this, whether they’re check-in-related or designed for project management. Eliminate as much ambiguity from people’s workdays as possible, both for their mental wellbeing, and to protect the company from paying for needless or inaccurate work.
  4. Connect colleagues. Seamless social connectivity is crucial to differentiating your digital employee experience from those of your competitors. Nearly 40% of workers report a worsening sense of isolation in 2021, which impacts everything from productivity to retention. Offering a digital space for employees to connect more casually, particularly around issues not related to their core job responsibilities is a key element to keeping your team engaged and collaborating successfully. Planning digital events is great, but it’s also important to empower your team to make those informal connections themselves via a dedicated “virtual water cooler” setting.
  5. Stay consistent. Don’t give employees more to worry about than they already have. Inconsistence breeds anxiety, so do everything possible to encourage consistency across your digital channels at all times. Ensure employees know what systems are to be used for which functions, what use cases apply for each communication channel, and promptly share any changes with employees at all levels of the organization.

Designing and delivering a top-notch digital employee experience in today’s day and age is both difficult and easier than ever. There are myriad tools at your disposal to help you meet and exceed the recommendations above on behalf of your team. Of course we’re biased, but if you’re looking for a great way to satisfy item four in particular, Workrowd can help. Our digital employee experience platform serves both people and profit and is designed to empower every employee to build a work life they love. Come visit us at workrowd.com to learn more, or send us a note at hello@workrowd.com. We’d love to see how we can help you help your people, especially as we continue to weather the waves of the pandemic.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month at work in 2021

Next Monday marks the first day of March, and with it comes the start of Women’s History Month. What began as a local ‘Women’s History Week’ in 1978 in Santa Rosa California has now been a federally-recognized, dedicated month for more than three decades. In contrast to years past however, women’s participation in the labor force is currently experiencing a significant decline. In January, it hit its lowest level in 33 years due to the layered impacts of the pandemic. This makes celebrating Women’s History Month at work in 2021 more important than ever.

Simultaneously, as organizations work to step up their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, championing women represents a crucial piece of the puzzle. While social distancing rules continue to present challenges to those trying to organize employee initiatives, there are still many opportunities to acknowledge the crucial role that women play in your company and rally around the cause of advancing women’s issues worldwide. Check out this list of ideas for celebrating women’s history month at work in 2021, and every year.

Why it’s important to celebrate women in the workplace

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce in October 2020 than at the same time just one year prior; 865,000 left in September alone. Moreover, women accounted for 100% of job losses in December. While 156,000 women lost their jobs in the last month of the year, men actually gained 16,000. With women shouldering the overwhelming brunt of the additional housework and childcare brought on by the pandemic, experts suggest that this crisis could erase a full generation’s worth of progress on gender equity.

Given the fact that women had not nearly achieved parity to begin with, this consequence of COVID-19 would simply add insult to injury. Women still earn just $0.81 for every $1.00 a man earns, and that disparity is exacerbated further by race. This isn’t just a problem for women though; it’s a drag on the economy overall. McKinsey & Company estimates that if gender parity were to be achieved by 2025, the U.S. economy would grow by $4.3 trillion. The exodus of women from the workforce hurts everyone. Accordingly, it’s crucial that workplaces champion women early and often. One easy way to do so is to celebrate Women’s History Month at work in 2021 in a highly visible way that drives real impact.

Ideas for celebrating Women’s History Month at work in 2021

In an ideal world, every company would celebrate every employee every day, regardless of gender, race, age, role, title, department, etc. In reality, we know that doesn’t happen simply by looking at the data in the paragraph above. While getting to this point will require deep and sustained work on issues of bias, sexism, racism, classism, etc. over the long-term, it can begin with relatively simple efforts. Celebrating the achievements of individuals from underrepresented communities through events such as Black History Month this month, or Women’s History Month starting next week, can help companies begin taking strides towards their ultimate inclusion and belonging goals. Consider implementing one or more of these ideas to acknowledge Women’s History Month within your workforce:

  1. Profile underappreciated women in your organization. While women in positions of power in your organization may have a high degree of name recognition amongst your staff, there are droves of others making a substantive difference to the company every day who deserve similar attention. Select a handful of women across different departments and interview them, then publish the profiles through your internal and external communications channels. Showing appreciation for more female staff and leaders beyond those who are typically recognized will help to build a more welcoming and supportive environment for all women.
  2. Hold a panel discussion with women leaders. Highlighting female employees who have successfully climbed the career ladder can provide others with role models and crucial lessons around how to advance within the organization. Make sure that in addition to sharing advice for how to follow in their footsteps, you also make space for the panelists to describe the challenges they’ve come up against, so other women understand that they’re not alone in what they’re facing. Of course, gauge and confirm interest in participating rather than expecting or requesting that people join the panel. Just as with our recommendations for Black History Month, it is not these women’s job to speak for everyone or do more work than they already do.
  3. Offer a training on gender equality. As we discussed earlier in this post, gender inequality is still a very real issue, with very real consequences. There are a number of training providers that focus on working to combat gender bias and build more inclusive workplaces, so consider it an investment in your company’s future and hire one to engage your workforce next month. If done right, your people and your bottom line will thank you.
  4. Build a strategy to advance women in your workplace. There are many ways to celebrate Women’s History Month, but one of the most valuable steps you can take is to assemble a committee to identify areas for improvement around gender equity, and establish a plan to address them. This could include setting goals around how and when you’ll reach gender pay equity, expanding your benefits packages to better support working mothers, evaluating and remedying any disparities in promotion rate, etc. Building a strategy for the long-term will make a much bigger difference than simply making superficial efforts for a month.
  5. Partner with a women-focused nonprofit to drive change. Another more significant way you can recognize Women’s History Month is by supporting women and girls with your company’s dollars and time. Find a nonprofit that aligns with your company’s mission and lay out a plan to partner and assist them. There are myriad issues impacting women and girls both worldwide and right here in the U.S., as well as many ways to engage with them, so figure out what’s right for your company and get started on making it a reality.

Celebrating Women’s History Month at work in 2021 is crucial as women continue to suffer disproportionate effects from the pandemic. Determine ways to better support female employees both during March and all year-round, and watch as your employer brand and bottom line enjoy the benefits of your efforts. Building more robust employee support networks through initiatives like employee resource groups for women and/or parents can go a long way towards improving life for female employees. If you could use some help in identifying what programming would be the best fit for your organization, come visit us at workrowd.com or drop us a line at hello@workrowd.com; we’d be happy to connect and see how we can best support.