What’s your (in)side hustle?

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hustle

In uncertain times, the side hustle can be an economic necessity. But as more millennials seek greater fulfilment in employment over greater pay, this side hustle is evolving into a central part of working life. The question of a work/life balance has slowly turned into the question of what ‘my work’ says about ‘my life’.

A generation that began their careers with the turmoil of the 2008 recession want meaning in their working lives and the flexibility that comes with control, and today’s employees won’t hesitate to move on if their talents aren’t stimulated. 

All about the money?

Money may quantify the value of work, but money is no substitute for fulfilment. But can the skills and sense of purpose derived from the passion project be cultivated in the workplace? Instead of accepting a division of labour between employment and fulfilment, perhaps the side role can become the leading part?

Henley Business School estimates that one in four workers run ‘at least one side hustle business’. Furthermore, research by Department 26 states that 44% of millennial workers now prioritise roles they’re passionate about over higher wages.

While previous generations were chiefly concerned with being ‘good providers’, millennials want to make an ‘impact’, with a meaningful working life central to how they derive meaning from life in general. But when this notion of ‘purpose’ supersedes even economic enrichment, what are the consequences for the workplace? When fulfilment becomes the primary motivation, does it actually become harder to be fulfilled?  How can employers adapt to a changing mindset?

What’s your five-year plan?

While 50% of millennials plan to remain in their role for five or more years, this is contingent on them finding value in their position and seeing the potential for swift promotions. Millennials want to assume leadership roles quickly and exercise a degree of control over their working lives. This need for control is demonstrated by the importance millennials place on flexible working hours, with time outside of the day job diverted to passion projects.

However, the side hustle and the pursuit of meaning in the day job don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With social media and technology now facilitating an extra source of income for many employees, it’s important to consider how you can adapt to their needs. What does ‘value’ in your employees’ working lives actually mean to them? How can the skills and experiences from their passion projects be transferred to the day job?

Value of the side hustle to an employer

Whether it’s the Customer Support worker who sells jewellery on Instagram, or the IT technician who moonlights as a writer, there is an inherent value in an employee’s side hustle. A recent study by Hudson Sessions highlights the positive effect that these passion projects can have on performance. Critically, the study draws attention to the enthusiasm an employee may have for their side hustle and how this energy is often brought to their full time role. While this positive mindset may be the afterglow of personal fulfilment, it must also be seen as an opportunity to understand where an employee perceives value in their working life. 

A side hustle will often operate without the hierarchical structure of office employment. An employee who thrives in this setting attests to the type of entrepreneurial individual who has the capacity to manage projects. In addition, a successfully run side project requires the ability to network and to build a client base. With communication and knowledge sharing key to creating an inclusive workplace culture and vital to success, your employee’s client-handling experience could be utilised and shared amongst colleagues.

Provide side hustle opportunities inside the company 

The sense of meaning gained from a side hustle is often derived from a feeling of ownership. This isn’t simply the consequence of pursuing something you love, but knowing it’s your creation with some part of your DNA contained within it. If chasing a lucrative full-time role for financial reasons could be described as ‘selling your soul’, the passion project is where the remnants of your soul are kept. This feeling of purpose acquired through owning a role can also be applied to the workplace. If employers are having to adapt their mindset to a changing environment, then it’s possible to consider how an employee’s perception of ‘work’ might also be changed. 

Giving your employees the freedom to choose projects that match their interests offers them the chance to view their work differently. Far from being the onerous ‘daily grind’, a complementary relationship between the side hustle and the full-time role could see both enriched. If the passion project is inherently creative, then consider how your employee can showcase their creativity. If the side hustle is people focussed, place your employee in an environment that promotes their human skills.

Offering your employees the opportunity to grow in roles that match their skills requires understanding them first. Mentoring can play a key role in recognising where your employees’ motivations lie and how to extract the maximum from them. When instilled across an organisation, mentoring gives employers an overview of where the most effective collaborations can be found and actively encouraged.

Furthermore, mentoring itself enables an employee to own a leadership role and derive meaning from seeing a mentee successfully tread the path they were once on. Most importantly, mentoring allows employees to be heard and to potentially create projects that inspire them. Providing inside hustles empowers your employees to put their voices into action and will have a transformative impact on both your organisation and their relationship with it.

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A guide to guided mentoring

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guided mentoring

What makes a mentoring programme truly effective? Is it rigid rules and regulations about how the relationship should work? Or is it trusting your employees, leaving them to develop the relationship as they see fit? 

The truth is fostering truly effective mentoring relationships is a balancing act. You need to empower your employees to take ownership of the relationship, while also ensuring it works and is delivering the learning experience intended. There are two popular approaches to mentoring: Structured and Unstructured.

Structured vs. unstructured mentoring

Structured mentoring programmes are adopted by over 70% of the FTSE 500. They ensure consistency throughout your organisation, and set expectations, holding both participants accountable for their half of the relationship. However, rules, deadlines and ‘red tape’ can be off-putting and limit the number of sign-ups to your mentoring programme. 

In contrast, unstructured programmes foster more organic, natural relationships and have very few rules to follow. This empowers employees and drives communication, while creating a relationship that is tailored to the mentees bespoke needs. However this approach sometimes falls short, if either party fails to prioritise the mentoring relationship.

But, there is a third approach that organisations can foster to ensure success: guided mentoring.

A guided approach to mentoring

Guided mentoring brings together structured and unstructured approaches and is based on The Inverted U Theory. Often used in sports or athletics, the inverted U depicts the relationship between pressure and performance. It shows that when there is too much or too little pressure performance lags. But it also highlights an optimal situation, an ‘area of best performance’.

Too little structure and the mentee may get side-tracked and not achieve as much as they could. But too much structure means there’s no room for an organic relationship to grow and this is equally as important to the prosperity of the mentorship.

With unstructured mentoring sat on the left of the inverted U, and structured on the right, guided mentoring sits in the middle – in the area of best performance. 

Why you should add a little flexibility to your mentoring programme

Guided mentoring provides a whole host of benefits to both mentor and mentee, and in turn increases buy-in from both sides. A study conducted by the University of Sydney reported that flexible mentoring helped mentees achieve their career goals and unintentionally provided emotional support, an increased sense of direction and time for reflection. This same study also showed an increase in willingness from mentors, stating they found the programme “extremely rewarding”. 

Who benefits from guided mentoring?

These emotional benefits undoubtedly lead to more enthusiastic, driven and inspired employees – a win for all involved. However, there are some cohorts of employees who might find guided mentoring exceptionally beneficial, including: 

1. New starters

Mentoring programmes are most often targeted at new starters – the employees further down the corporate ladder, who could benefit from a little guidance from those who have been in the field for a while. However, traditional approaches to mentoring can sometimes be intimidating for the company newbie. A structured programme could lead to your new starter feeling overwhelmed;  juggling both their work commitments and mentoring schedule. But, an entirely unstructured approach could leave them apprehensive, not wanting to pester their mentor for help, support or guidance. So, it’s easy to see how guided mentoring will provide the flexibility and support needed in those all important first few months at your organisation.

2. New managers

New managers are likely to have been in your business for some time, or at the very least have experience working in the relevant field. But no two new managers are the same, some may take to the next stage in their career like a duck to water. Whereas others may find their new role nerve-racking. Each new manager will have unique learning and development needs. Therefore mentoring programmes ridgid with structure will suffice. However, a completely unstructured approach may not be conducive to success either. A new role will undoubtedly lead to an increased workload and some may struggle to prioritise the mentoring relationship over their other commitments. So, it’s easy to see why guided mentoring might be considered the perfect sweet spot. 

3. Future leaders 

Finally, mentoring develops future leaders for your organisation, forming a pipeline of individuals who truly understand your business and what it takes to succeed. These future leaders need a range of skills, not least communication, listening and decision-making. Traditional approaches to mentoring usually involve a range of pre-planned meetings, activities and so on. This eases the mentoring process but does not provide an opportunity for mentees (or their mentors) to take charge of the relationship and implement their communication or decision-making skills. Guided mentoring empowers potential future leaders to take ownership, and in turn helps them develop the skills critical to their career success. 

So, what makes a mentoring programme truly effective? Here at Grasp we believe it’s a programme that empowers employees. One that fosters a culture of sharing, relationship building and trust. And in our opinion, guided mentoring is a great way to achieve just that. 

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The Magic of Mentoring: Business Benefits of Mentoring Programmes

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magic of mentoring

The repercussions of Covid-19 are forcing organisations to redeploy, upskill and reskill staff at speed – but with ever-shrinking budgets. As a result, HR leaders are having to think on their feet. Many are looking for a new way to facilitate learning and development in the workplace. Establishing an effective mentoring programme can be a great place to start.

Mentoring uses the resources your company already has to transfer knowledge, encourage leadership and improve employee engagement. From a business standpoint, it’s win-win. Creating an employee mentoring programme benefits the mentee, the mentor and the wider company. Mentees learn new skills, mentors hone theirs, and the business improves performance and grows its talent pipeline.

It’s no coincidence that almost all Fortune 500 businesses now have active mentoring schemes, and smaller companies are following suit. For HR leaders looking to ensure their organisations survive and thrive into the ‘next normal’, it’s clear that a strong mentoring programme is key.

Benefits of a mentorship programme

Being mentored is one of the most valuable and effective development opportunities you can offer employees. Alongside practical advice, encouragement and support, mentoring can enhance self-confidence too. It also helps mentees gain role-relevant skills and benefit from ‘just in time’ advice as challenges arise. Other key gains for the mentee include:

●  Feeling confident and empowered to make decisions

●  Advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses

●  Stronger and more open internal networks

●  Easing anxiety by having someone to turn to for guidance and support

What the mentors gain

Mentoring is more than the transfer of knowledge. By guiding and counselling others, mentors have the opportunity to develop their leadership qualities and demonstrate their readiness for senior positions. Other key benefits for mentors include:

●  Improving their communication, management and team-building skills

●  Gaining recognition as a subject matter expert

●  Exposure to fresh perspectives and approaches

●  Motivation to reflect on personal goals and practices

Benefit to your business bottom line

The great advantage of mentoring is that it approaches learning from a different angle – one that is uniquely tailored to your organisation. A mentor can share hands-on experience about internal systems that can’t be gained from any other source. This helps mentees navigate company-specific procedures, getting them role-ready in a shorter time frame.

Employers can also reap a variety of other benefits:

●  Cost-effectively spread the skills and attitudes required to succeed within the company – helping to foster positive corporate cultures

●  Engage your employees and keep your best performers connected and energised

●  Foster a culture of personal and professional growth that attracts new hires

●  Explore leadership potential and develop a pipeline of future leaders

Driving diversity

Mentoring programmes also have a positive track record for enhancing the effectiveness of diversity efforts within companies. Studies show that mentoring has been proven to be more successful at promoting workplace diversity than diversity training programmes alone.

Participation has been found to boost minority representation at the management level by 9% to 24%, compared to -2% to 18% with other diversity initiatives. As an HR professional, it’s another strong argument for introducing an employee mentoring programme within your organisation.

Introducing mentoring to your employees

According to Tammy Allen, author of Designing Workplace Mentor Programs, pairing an employee with the right mentor is the trickiest aspect of mentoring. Some organisations use algorithms similar to those used by dating services, while others take a more random approach such as picking names out of a hat.

Turn to technology

Allen says the programmes in which participants have some input are usually the most successful. However, the traditional approach to matching is usually uncomfortable and long-winded for both parties. By turning to technology for this initial stage in the matching process, algorithms eliminate human emotions and quickly recommend matches. Instead of numerous conversations, web chats or Zoom calls – technology can help to pinpoint how employees can help each other and bring them together in a stress-free environment. 

Empower employees

Successful mentoring relies on human relationships. Therefore, technology should only be used to assist in the decision-making process. Let your employees choose their own mentor from a predetermined list of potential matches. Allowing mentees to select a mentor based on skill, experience and career aspirations ensures the relationship starts with mutual respect and understanding from both sides.

How to make mentoring more successful

But don’t leave it there. Despite your best efforts a pair may not click, so you’ll need to support an employee’s exit strategy. Educate employees looking for mentorship how to tell whether their mentor/mentee is a good match and support them in how to resolve this situation. That way, participants can get out of the relationship and find another match without hurt feelings or damaging professional relationships.

Set expectations

It’s important that everyone enters into mentoring with clear and realistic expectations. Mentees should understand the process does not make them a shoo-in for promotion, but instead is an investment in their personal and professional growth. Mentors should know that their time and expertise are valued, and the benefits of mentoring are reciprocal.

Get it in the diary

Finally, we suggest encouraging mentors and mentees to schedule regular sessions to give the mentoring relationship some momentum. If it is not part of an ongoing conversation, they will never achieve the results. Allow the pair to make their own arrangements, but be prepared to give both parties a nudge if need be.

Mentoring can bring strategic benefits to organisations and have a correspondingly positive impact on the business bottom line. In the current environment, setting up a mentoring programme should be on every HR leader’s to-do list. Is it on yours?

Finding a mentor right for you

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Good fit mentoring

How to tell if my mentee/mentor is a right fit and what to do if they’re not.

You will most likely have a strong intuition as to whether or not your mentor/mentee is a good fit for you and it’s important that they are. It’s also important to accept that people are complex and our relationships with one another rely on a lot of different factors from personality to our unique ways of communicating.


How to tell if your mentor is a good fit

If you feel that your mentor may not be a good fit for you, first answer the following questions:

Do you feel comfortable when meeting with your mentor?
Does your mentor give you advice that motivates/inspires you?
Are you being challenged in a positive way by your mentor?
Does your mentor give you constructive feedback or recognition?
Is it difficult to arrange sessions/connect with your mentor?

If the answer to most of these question is ‘no’, the likelihood is the mentorship is not a good fit.


How to tell if your mentee is a good fit

If you feel that your mentee may not be a good fit for you, first answer the following questions:

Does your mentee frequently postpone or cancel meetings?
Do you feel your mentee has unclear or unrealistic goals and expectations?
Does your mentee get overly defensive when you give them feedback?
Does your mentee

If the answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’, the likelihood is the mentorship is not a good fit.


What to do if your mentor/mentee is not a good fit

Honesty really is the best policy, so first, try talking with your mentor/mentee and letting them know where you don’t think the relationship is working. Be empathetic and consider their perspective. Understand that they may also find the relationship is not working for completely different reasons. Don’t get too defensive, make sure you listen to each other and give yourself time to go away and digest the conversation before coming to a decision on your next steps. Your next steps may be to both work on the areas brought up in the discussion, or the next step may be to end the mentorship. Either way, it’s important you remain professional contacts, make sure you don’t burn any bridges with each other.

Sometimes personalities just don’t fit well. In this instance, it can be hard to convey this through a conversation without hurting the other person. Be aware of this and instead of delving into character assassination, try to agree with one another that the personalities just don’t fit well for mentorship. 

When choosing a new mentor, try to choose someone you would love to chat with over coffee, perhaps invite that person for an informal meeting before sending them a mentorship request. Having a mentor with similar interests and career goals will create a level of comfortability that can take you to the next level so make sure to use the search function and consider your ‘recommended connections’.

How to use data to improve inclusivity in the workplace

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data and inclusion

Data can be amazing. Data can improve your decision making, help create more efficient and effective processes and operations, and improve the overall wellbeing of your people. Data can also be used to project a narrative about your organisation; the narrative, perhaps, that you are a diverse one. However, dig a little deeper and you might find a more truthful narrative that doesn’t sit quite as well.

While a diverse workplace can be superficially supported by data, it is an inclusive one that will ultimately decrease staff turnover, enhance creativity, drive communication and increase employee satisfaction. When the right data is captured, it doesn’t just quantify an organisation’s diversity, it can provide the foundations on which it improves. So, what data do you capture to measure those critical details that slip below eye-level? And how do you ensure that this critical data is used to implement real change across your organisation?


The importance of measuring inclusivity

Measuring inclusivity cuts through the superficiality of diversity numbers. The ability to assess whether an employee is included, and feels included, doesn’t simply tell us about diversity in an organisation but where the individual sits within that ‘diversity’. An inclusive company cultivates an atmosphere of respect, trust and unity that allows all voices to be heard and promotes the message that diversity is welcome within the workplace.

Although an inclusive workplace is integral to diversity and innovation, many companies view inclusivity as an intangible measurement. While diversity is perceived as something easier to quantify and act upon, inclusivity is often viewed as a subjective idea that’s far too individualised to draw effective conclusions from. However, as our knowledge of diversity supported by inclusion grows, we must use the technology at our disposal to extract key data in this area.

Inclusivity often centres around communication in the workplace and the extent to which employees collaborate with each other or are left to their own devices. A recent study by the Ascend Foundation highlighted the impact that isolation can have on self-perception and how this negatively affects more racially diverse employees in the workplace. Therefore, uncovering where the silos lie and using this data to bring people together will promote an inclusive environment.


Measuring connection and conversation

We’re not talking email surveillance here, we’re talking about measuring who’s communicating with who and in what way, and then viewing this against a backdrop of key profile data such as age, gender and race. Many organisations are now using technology to make their workplace more connected, but this technology is often kept completely separate from the data captured to measure diversity in the boardroom and disparity in wages.

A key part of measuring inclusivity is knowing who is meeting with who, who is providing the mentoring to who and who is assuming a slightly less visible leadership role. New technology is integral to this, and a platform like Grasp offers complete visibility over key collaborations within your organisation, measured alongside race, gender, age, department and job level. This data gives you key insight into who is being excluded from the conversation and understand whether negative biases are being reinforced across your organisation.


Use qualitative as well as quantitative data

When data is used to highlight diversity, it can actually have the negative effect of boxing ‘diverse people’ into one group whilst failing to account for their individual experiences. If a company only has a 6% female turnover rate, does this highlight how many of those are black or Asian women?

Qualitative data on an employee’s individual experience, while harder to capture, can influence wider change in the workplace. Conversations over when and how an employee felt valued, when their diversity affected their ability to contribute, or when they were hindered by bias, offer the type of insight that quantitative data could never provide alone. This information can only really be shared in a setting where the employee feels comfortable enough to be truly honest. As a communication tool that brings people from diverse backgrounds together, Grasp enables employees to share their experiences with each other and gives organisations greater access to qualitative information that can help foster an inclusive culture that focuses on the individual not just their data group.


Conclusion

Uprooting your workplace culture relies on accessing data that can drive change. Statistics on ‘diversity’ mean nothing if you can’t define it or account for the individuals who fall under the label of ‘diversity’. Seeing beyond the numbers and acquiring detail on how or why something is occurring is the difference between diversity and inclusion. While information on diversity might highlight who is or isn’t in your organisation, the data on inclusivity can potentially turn those employees into fully engaged co-workers ready to communicate and collaborate with each other. Convert those statistics on ‘groups of people’ into individual experiences. Create a unified, inclusive workforce by truly understanding the individuals within your organisation.

How to break the cycle of unconscious bias in the workplace

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Unconscious bias

They say a first impression is a lasting one. However, it is the lasting ideas, formed in our unconscious minds that make the biggest impression. While silent snap-judgements may appear to be relatively harmless, they can gradually feed into recruitment and our capacity to cultivate an inclusive and diverse workspace. Whether it’s the faces in the boardroom, the gender of the CEO, or the age of your superior, our unconscious biases will dictate who we perceive in these roles: we’ve seen them before we’ve met them; we’ve hired them in our heads; we’ve heard them speak before they’ve uttered a word. Furthermore, when our preconceived ideas are reflected back at us, it may even appear to validate them; creating a vicious cycle where our biases are continually reaffirmed. So how do we break this cycle? And how do we actively ensure that our workplaces aren’t unwittingly built on bias? 

Unconscious bias is our mind’s response to the 11 million pieces of information it receives per second. While we’re able to understand about 50 of them, only 7 are remembered in the short-term. As our survival is predicated on filtering the vast amounts of information we constantly receive, our unconscious mind will make a series of quick decisions based on bias rather than reality. These biases are longstanding and were formed by our unconscious mind creating patterns and categories from our life experiences and the media we’ve been exposed to. Put simply, prejudice is hard-wired into us and is so instinctive, irrational and insidious that we barely even recognise it.  

Our unconscious biases run the risk of completely overlooking the diverse voices and experiences that drive creativity. If we have an inbuilt tendency to surround ourselves with people who look and sound like ourselves, the friction required to challenge old ideas and generate new ones will be completely absent. Meanwhile, if we’re promoting the same faces and ignoring diverse voices, we will only cultivate a divided workplace. If unconscious bias is driving our recruitment decisions and ideas of leadership, how can we create an inclusive working environment? How do we prevent our obscured worldview from being replicated in the workplace?  

Objective decision making 
Unconscious bias is formed by our subjective experiences and implemented by swift decision-making based on gut reactions. Therefore, mitigating it will largely depend on some much-needed objectivity and our ability to slow down the decision-making process. We must initially accept that we are all governed by inbuilt prejudice. Once we understand that our worldview may not necessarily be an accurate one, we will be in a position to create the language needed to define our biases and to discuss them. We may then be prepared to pause before making quick fire decisions and to seek a second opinion from someone whose experiences differ from ours. 

Celebrate well-represented media 
The media informs our perceptions. Consequently, avoiding any media that reinforces our biases will help us to reinterpret our worldview. This can also be applied to the workplace through book clubs or group film reviews that focus on work by diverse artists. Group activities will also help to expand your employees’ networks and to create an atmosphere of openness across your organisation.  

Identify silos 
Silos are synonymous with a divided workspace, and eliminating bias is central to promoting inclusiveness. However, your approach cannot be a tokenistic, PR gesture driven by the current political climate: employees will always see through a superficial attempt to create a collaborative culture. However, a data-driven system that can pinpoint where the silos lie will enable you to directly engage with employees on the periphery of your organisation. A key aspect of reducing bias is to encourage communications between people from different backgrounds.  
 
 
Unconscious bias in the workplace is our unwitting attempt to mould an organisation in our own image. However, that image doesn’t have to remain a negative one. If we can recognise our biases, we may then be able to recognise them in others and effect change across our organisation rather than just in ourselves. Understanding why we thought a certain way and how we changed will enable us to influence more people for the better. A renewed perspective doesn’t just create great leadership and organisations, but also, fantastic mentors. 

Grasp enables you to evaluate the level of inclusivity in your organisation, and to bring people from different ages, backgrounds, races and abilities together for mentoring opportunities and cross-company collaborations. If you can create diverse mentors and mentees across your organisation, you’ll have the capacity to uproot your company’s culture and to build a new, unbiased mindset for the next generation of employees. 
 

5 essential skills needed in the
post-pandemic workplace

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Skills needed in a post-pandemic workplace

As we begin the push to a ‘new normal’ and think about what the future workplace looks like, we also need to think about what skills we should bring to the table. While technical skills and competencies will be under high scrutiny, let’s not forget the skills that companies will be needing from employers no matter what career path you are on. 
 

  1. Adaptability 
    The world was changing rapidly before the pandemic, but now, change is a super-charged part of everyday working life. Not only has this launched adaptability to the front of most desired skills in employees, but it has also made it a critical skill. Adaptability is not just about being able to put up with change, it’s about thriving in the face of it. 
     
    With adaptability comes resilience and flexibility, not only are these required for current times, companies will want to see these qualities present in employees to make sure they have a workforce that is prepared for any future events and disruptions the world throws at us. 
  1. Critical thinking  
    As the world becomes louder, critical thinking and the ability to pull out credible data and information becomes imperative to helping companies cut through the noise and make informed effective business decisions. Employees that can evaluate, explain and restructure their thinking tend to have a more thorough self-awareness and are more aware of unconscious cognitive bias making them naturally more inclusive leaders. 
  1. Intrapreneurship  
    Ok so we’ve cheated a bit with this one, the term ‘intrapreneurship’ involves a lot of skills in itself – creativity, problem-solving, proactiveness. People who have an entrepreneurial spirit can overcome short-term crisis’s and can create effective long-term strategies. Intrapreneurs are solution-orientated and open to ideas and opportunities, making them an essential employee in the post-pandemic workplace. 
  1. Communication 
    Being a good communicator will not make the cut in the post-pandemic workplace, companies will need effective communicators to steer teams in the right direction while making sure everyone is on the same page. Remote working is not going anywhere soon, making effective communication even more important to keep teams on track and boost employee engagement.  
  1. Emotional intelligence 
    Part of being a good communicator and a good leader is high emotional intelligence. The ability to listen and to understand others is an essential skill, especially post-pandemic where anxiety and mental health will be instrumental in guiding employee engagement and wellness. 
     

    Do you have all the skills needed for the post-pandemic workplace? Are you lacking in some of these areas? Now’s the time to reach out to your connections and help each other upskill for the future workplace. 

Were we always working remotely?

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How forced remote working has highlighted our existing workplace culture

The bedroom is the office. The sofa chair is where crucial deals are negotiated. Coffee breaks in your own kitchen. Remote-working has seemingly crash-landed upon us, with only an internet connection separating us from our colleagues. But although our working arrangements have changed, the crisis has actually shed light on the working culture we already had in place. How effectively do we communicate? Are there too many silos? Who’s interacting with who and how often? As workplace culture becomes interwoven with remote culture, it is our pre-existing people culture that will define how we rise to this new challenge. But were we always working remotely? And if so, how do we take advantage of the present crisis?

Instant messaging, online collaboration and video conferencing have gradually digitised the workforce over the last decade. But while digital communication can supplement the working relationships within an organisation, they can also anonymise the environment. This is compounded in larger organisations where cross-company communication is more challenging. How can a company that employs thousands of people meet the individual needs of its staff? How does a global organisation, which reaches out to the world, connect the people inside its very own company? Significantly, these environments will always be tempted by short, sharp digital communications and faceless interactions. It is within this landscape that silos are formed and remote workplace culture is cultivated, even when surrounded by colleagues. 

The present situation has undoubtedly been disruptive. Clearly there are logistical issues that have complicated this transition and made it very different from the working life we were used to. However, the way in which we connect during lockdown says everything about the workplace culture we had in place prior to the pandemic, and the one we’ll return to in the future.  Although the crisis has highlighted our detachment from each other in the workplace, remote working doesn’t have to mean working in isolation. In our increasingly digitised workspaces, our colleagues have never been closer, even when we’re miles apart. How can you use this crisis to improve communication when we eventually return to office life?  What digital tools can you use to connect your employees in a way that’s inclusive rather than isolating? Can you erase silos by fostering a more collaborative culture?

The surge in video conferencing wasn’t just born out of necessity. It implies that when people perceive themselves to be ‘alone’ or working ‘remotely’, their instinctive reaction is to reach out to their colleagues and talk. Therefore, the conditions need to be created within the workspace to facilitate face to face interactions on a regular basis. Furthermore, if the present situation has encouraged people to interact and share knowledge within their team, can this be replicated across your entire organisation?

While isolation has forced us to self-reflect as individuals, let’s use our evolving workspaces as an opportunity to think connectively, rather than remotely.

Read our top 5 tips on how to build an effective remote workplace culture…

tips for building an effective remote workplace culture
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Video-conferencing, online collaboration, instant messaging. Although our colleagues have shifted from a meter away to the click of a button, our capacity to connect has never been greater. But prior to lockdown, how effectively were your employees actually communicating? Whether working remotely or together inside an office, your workplace culture will define your employee engagement, productivity and retention. So how do you create a strong working environment, regardless of distance?

1. Make people visible

Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working in isolation. Enforced isolation has emphasised our need to connect, but it’s vital to connect with the right people. So how does a large organisation, with thousands of employees, create that vital connection between two individuals? The first step is to make everyone visible to each other at all times. Use a search function or a company directory to help make those anonymous individuals in your workspace accessible to everyone. Make the right people reachable.

2. Provide the right tools

Effective communication relies on effective technology. We’re blessed to be in an era that surrounds us with intuitive and efficient solutions to a whole host of problems. The downside to this is that the number of apps, platforms, logins and technologies becomes overwhelming and using them all individually can actually harm efficiency and productivity, the very reason we use them in the first place. Technological solutions are only truly effective when implemented well. Look for technology solutions that integrate with your existing systems and think about how you can streamline the technology your company uses to make sure it’s working for you, not against you.

3. Cultivate connections

In large organisations, silos are inevitable as people retreat into the spaces they feel most comfortable and these can become even more apparent when working remotely. What measures do you have in place to eliminate them? Diversity and inclusion are essential to healthy workplace culture, but they are also reliant on the elimination of bias. Is your workplace culture constructed by pre-conceived notions of who you think might work well together? Try setting up remote collaborative projects which allow employees to choose to work with someone they don’t normally work with. By trying to connect your entire organisation, you’re democratising the workplace. You’re empowering individuals to directly choose their connections in their organisation while making sure those connections are inclusive. If done well, you will enable individuals to subvert bias and forge inclusive and diverse relationships on their own terms.

4. Show recognition

Do you truly value your workforce? If so, what measures do you have in place to identify who is helping who? A truly engaged and productive workforce means extracting the potential of everyone and this can be particularly hard while working remotely. During this remote working period, make sure you are able to identify your introverted achievers as well as the extroverts. An extroverted personality will always have something to learn from an introvert, and vice-versa. Use this principle to encourage an open dialogue through recognition where every voice is heard. A knowledge-sharing environment that openly connects people will have visibility over everyone’s contributions.

5. Promote personal connections

Connections in the workplace shouldn’t simply be fixed to the workplace. Creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued also means bonding on a personal level. While meet-ups and mentoring are often framed around work projects, it’s vital to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to thrive. Identify the common interests within your team and host virtual events around these interests. Online art clubs, yoga sessions and book clubs are a few of the many ideas you could try to weave into a Friday afternoon to encourage personal connections while working remotely. An environment where people actually like each other will always be a more productive one. Does your workplace culture breed colleagues or friendships?

Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working in isolation. Use this period of enforced isolation to understand the type of culture you’ve instilled and take appropriate action. If necessity is the mother of invention, then use the present crisis to upgrade your workplace culture. Whether we like it or not, remote working has forced us to interact, so let’s not waste this valuable opportunity.

Mentors are 6x more likely to be promoted

Grasp

Benefits of being a mentor

… and other great reasons you should mentor.

The benefits of being a mentor

In a fast-paced workplace, mentoring a colleague doesn’t seem as important as that looming deadline. It’s hard to focus on someone else’s personal development when trying to develop your own career. But what if your career progression and a colleague’s personal development could be connected? What if the process of ‘mentoring’ was actually mutually-beneficial? As our working environments evolve, traditional ideas of ‘mentoring’ are becoming increasingly outdated. Mentoring is no longer an onerous, homogenised process, but a data-driven, carefully-tailored exercise that attends to the needs of the mentor and mentee. Here are 5 reasons why becoming a mentor could be integral to your future…

1. Career Development

You’re experienced. You have the respect of your colleagues. You’re comfortable in your role. But can you take your career to the next level? A 5-year survey by Sun Microsystems on 1,000 employees found that Mentors were 20% more likely to receive a pay-rise than those who didn’t participate in mentoring. In addition, the study also highlighted how mentors were 6 times more likely to be promoted to a more senior role. Mentoring won’t add to your workload, but it will have a tangible impact on your career.

2. Ideas and inspiration

The workplace is the centre of innovation. However, great ideas can only be developed through communication, and key changes can only be implemented when senior employees are made aware of them. Mentoring enables two individuals, at different stages of their careers, to collaborate and build a lasting creative relationship. Not only will you be able to transfer your knowledge to the inexperienced mentee, but the mentee will have the opportunity to share their fresh perspective. Moments of inspiration won’t be lost on the ground but described, distilled and put into practice.

3. Highlight potential problems early

A relationship between a mentor and mentee can benefit the entire organisation. By connecting with your less-experienced colleague on the ground, you’ll be able to ensure that operational issues are recognised before they become genuine problems. Your assumptions about what is or isn’t working can be confirmed or challenged with direct experience from the frontline. Unseen issues can be acted upon and eradicated. Furthermore, building these symbiotic relationships across your organisation will ultimately upskill the entire team.

4. Expand your network

A trusted support network is essential at any stage of a career. Your mentees will eventually become mentors themselves and evolve into highly successful colleagues. As your former mentees thrive in their careers and create new relationships, you’ll be able to draw upon these valuable old contacts for potential support in your own career. A bond between a mentor and mentee isn’t simply remembered retrospectively but creates a network that can be a constant source of inspiration and support in the future.

5. Personal satisfaction

Assisting a colleague’s personal development can help a mentor to recognise their own individual worth and enhance their mental well-being. You’ll be given the opportunity to impart knowledge you may not realise you have, while your capacity to teach could be a hidden talent. You’ll be understanding yourself as much as helping someone to understand their role in an organisation. Relating to another colleague, feeling valued and being heard are integral to our mental health. At its heart, mentoring is about creating the conditions for these vital connections to take place.

Mentoring will drive communication in the workplace, upskill the workforce and establish lasting connections. However, this is all predicated on the mentor making an active choice over the mentees they wish to help. Mentoring shouldn’t be an onerous task and the connections must be genuine. Grasp enables mentors to choose their mentees from a list of requests based on recommended criteria. The mentoring process is as flexible as you want it to be. You decide the terms. You decide the time. The connections are ready to be made and the benefits are right at your fingertips.

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