Atlassian asks 6,000 employees about the future of work
As leaders, we should be able to make the following sets of statements with confidence:
- I know who my best people are and we have plans in place to keep them engaged while ensuring their continued growth.
- I am delighted with our brand of talent and our ability to attract the best candidates.
- I take pride in the way we hire and integrate people into our business, maintain a high retention rate, and empower our people to do their best.
Even though you would have been okay with all of these statements before the pandemic, I bet you are a lot less confident about them now. The past 18 months have changed the way all workers view their professional life. The real challenge is to find solutions that work for individuals, teams and businesses as a whole. Atlassian’s “Reworking Work” study offers a few leads.
We surveyed over 6,000 workers around the world to find out how they feel and what they expect from the future of work. Having done the same research a year earlier, this year’s findings offer valuable insight into how attitudes have changed and what is driving the change.
Employee expectations have changed. Are you ready to take the turn to meet them?
Flexibility is a top priority
If you’ve read even a few of the Great Resignation stories, you’ve probably picked up on a key theme: the disconnect between what employees want and what employers offer.
The bottom line is that flexibility is key if you want to hang on to your best people and continue to attract the best talent. More than three-quarters of our respondents (78%) told us they wanted to keep the working arrangements flexible and have the option to work remotely. It echoes Atlassian research conducted in partnership with PwC earlier this year, which revealed that more than 40% of knowledge workers in the United States are willing to change employers if it means they will have the opportunity to work from home.
Some companies have embraced this trend and are using it to their advantage. They provide a certain degree of flexibility to employees from day one. Not a flexibility limited to certain levels of seniority or seniority, nor at the discretion of your manager; just the ability to work in the office or at home, or a combination of both. Like Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM recently thought about, “Why should I, as an employer, care so much that you can do the job and are very productive?” I shouldn’t be trying to be too dictatorial about this.
Hire employees who share your values
We must also understand that as managers, our actions are more closely monitored: 49% of employees would quit their job if it became clear that their employer’s values did not match theirs. And in today’s job market, employees have the upper hand.
The bottom line is that considering value alignment during the hiring process is a must. How to lead teams through major changes such as digital transformation or a pivot in company strategy without triggering a wave of attrition? By building teams that share the same fundamental attitudes towards work. How do you know you make the most effective teams, regardless of the background, location or personality of the members? Once again: shared values.
That’s why a values interview is one of the most important parts of a hiring process. These interviews involve a set of structured behavioral questions designed to assess how a candidate’s mindset aligns with your core values. And the person doing the interview is usually from outside the hiring department. It’s on purpose. The more we can do the values interview on the candidate’s state of mind (and less on his skills), the better.
Optimize your onboarding process for remote workers
Upgrading your onboarding game is essential, especially in cases where teams are in remote-only or hybrid mode. Atlassian learned firsthand: Half of our 7,000+ employees joined the company during the pandemic. It is more than 3,500 Atlassians who have never been in one of our offices or met their teams face to face. We therefore adapted our processes with distributed teams in mind and developed a 90-day plan for the onboarding of new recruits optimized for remote workers.
Try, learn, adapt, repeat
Despite the obvious difficulties of distributed work, most people value flexibility so much that they are committed to the challenges. As leaders, our job is to change the way we work to ensure an engaged workforce and an adaptable and sustainable business.
Enabling distributed teams is embracing mass customization and letting people take control of their workweek. It is also about keeping our promises, because talking about flexibility and then putting in place policies to restrict it does more harm than good.
We’ve all survived the past 18 months, but it’s time to aim higher than that. No one has all the answers, so let’s experiment with new ways of working and coach our teams through these changing times. This means there is less emphasis on task management and more on people management — less talking and more listening, and maintaining the focus on mental health and well-being.
Clearly, organizations that prepare teams and individuals for success in the new world of distributed work are the most likely to be successful. If we help them thrive, the whole organization will thrive as well.
Dom price is the head of R&D and job futurist resident at Atlassian software. His responsibilities span seven global R&D centers, helping Atlassian evolve by being ruthlessly effective and efficient, with an eye to the future.