The Primary Work Element That Creates Happiness!

Oh, I bet it’s working for a great boss! Or, maybe it’s having a best friend at work! No, it must be dog-friendly! Puppies make me happy! I wonder if it’s money or free tacos or something like that!?

No, you’re all wrong!

In fact, the one thing that correlates to high employee happiness at the office is the one thing you’re destroying! Isn’t that great! We’ve got one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything our employees ever wanted, but in that moment we let it slip…

There was a study done recently that asked about their modern workplaces. What was it in their office that made them the happiest? Turns out 90% of us want a private office. Yet, on the flip side, in all of our brilliance over 54% of us are converting our offices to open floor plans! Why? Because we’re stupid!

Also, because employees are kind of stupid in answering these kinds of surveys! They will tell you they want one of those cool, open office concepts with the bean bag chairs and picnic tables in a big room because look at those pictures of all the smiling faces of those employees. Also, is it just me, or do those smiling faces seem really attractive as well!? You know what? If we had open offices we would be more attractive!

For a decade, idiots like me and every media outlet known to man as talked about how Millennials just want open, collaborative spaces. We’ll be more productive, and have better teamwork, and make faster decisions, and be more collaborative, and we’ll solve global warming! The reality is much different. Turns out, working in a big, loud room with a bunch of fellow idiots employees makes you less productive.

Oh, great I get to sit in the middle of a giant room, across a giant table, and watch Steven pick his nose.

Here’s what happy productive employees actually want in an office:

  • Private.
  • Great WiFi and up to date technology.
  • Quiet.
  • Comfortable.
  • Cool design (which doesn’t equal ‘open concept’).
  • Well lighted.
  • Professional.
  • Clean, but not sterile.

Do we really hate cubes? Well, we hate cube farms that remind us of the 1979 Soviet Union. I don’t think most hate cubes that are designed for modern workspaces. The problem is we tend to not think about how we can use cubes in a modern design that lets people have a private space, but also open space for times they want that as well. It’s either cube farm or giant open warehouse, we tend to not think in between.

Ultimately, our employees want privacy and cool if you’re working for an organization that has made the decision that coming into the office is important to the success of the organization. I’m also going to guess if this study was done today, employees would also add “Flexibility” to the mix of what would make them most happy at work!

If you charge your employees to Covid Test, You’re stupid!

Wow, that seems aggressive!

The new, on-hold, Federal Vaccine Mandate has organizations all over the country losing their minds, and that is putting it lightly!

I have to say, for how dumb I usually think our US government is on most things, no matter what party is in charge, this Vaccine Mandate was kind of brilliantly written regardless of which side you’re on. Unlike most government regulations this one is pretty tight. You have two options:

  1. Get the vaccine.
  2. Put on a mask and test weekly.
  3. See #1 or #2

It’s extremely rare that in HR we see something so straightforward.

“Well, Tim, you missed religious and medical accommodations!” No, not really. Doesn’t matter. Great you need or want accommodation, doesn’t matter. #1 or #2, which one do you want, #2 will fill your accommodation.

So, why are you stupid for charging your employees for Covid testing?

First, the new, on-hold, federal mandate, does allow employers to charge their employees who don’t want to get vaccinated and now have to be tested, weekly. Legally, you are allowed to charge your employees.

Second, doing so, no matter what you believe about the vaccine, is stupid!

It is next to impossible right now to hire great talent. Fact.

So, in this environment, you think the best way to retain employees is to tell them you’re going to make them pay for their own test?! Um, nope! They’ll just leave you and go work for someone who won’t make them pay and probably also doesn’t make them feel like a second-class citizen for making their own health choices.

I continue to hear from well-meaning HR pros across the country that they will be making their employees pay for their own testing, and honestly, I just don’t understand this stance. It seems like a recipe for disaster when it comes to retaining employees you desperately need.

But, the testing costs a lot and we want our employees to be vaccinated!

Yeah, I want world peace.

The fact is, in the US, we are not going to get everyone vaccinated. We have huge parts of our population that just don’t trust the vaccine is right for them. Under 50% of African Americans in the US are unvaccinated and have no desire to be vaccinated. Almost 50% of Union workers in the US are unvaccinated and have no desire to be vaccinated. This isn’t something even our government will be able to force.

US employers are going to have to make some hard choices if the courts decide to let this mandate go forward. For me, that choice will be to value all of our employees and work to keep everyone safe while also letting them make their own choice, and try not to make this a hardship for all involved financially.

The thing I won’t do is to shame employees who are fearful and I won’t make them pay to get tested.

What About Me!?

The year is 1981, the artist is Shayne Ward, the song is “What About Me” (Look it up, kids!). I actually sing this to my wife all the time as a joke:

The chorus:

“What about me, it isn’t fair
I’ve had enough now I want my share
Can’t you see I wanna live
But you just take more than you give”

What about the employees who have that are staying!?

We all have a lot of employees who are leaving us. I’ve had a couple of really great folks of my own that have left for new positions. I also have the vast majority that have stayed and are also really awesome!

We do this stupid thing in organizations that I hate. It’s been going on forever. We tend to really overvalue new employees and employees who are performing that leave, and we totally discount the folks who stay. Dare I even say, those who are “loyal” and stay. That’s a trigger I know, because honestly, those who left were loyal also, until, well, they left.

I mean, just because someone leaves for an opportunity that feels is right for them and their family doesn’t make someone not loyal. I believe disloyalty is when someone purposely tries to hurt your organization, and as such, is trying to hurt all the employees who actually work there as well. That’s way different!

We have this fixation on trying to “save” an employee who wants to leave. I actually think trying to save good employees is a good investment. The problem is, we also need a “save”/retention strategy for all those employees who are killing it every day and not going anywhere. They need the love as well!

Wait, isn’t that just good old fashion employee engagement or good new fashion employee experience?

Yes.

Yes, and in certain times it’s also more than that. In times of terrific economic advantage to workers, like we are now in, we probably have to do a bunch more. You can show your employees some love, or someone else will!

I had a number of conversations recently with really smart leaders around pay and compensation. In times like we are in right now, compensation market-level data can’t keep up. It never really can, but it usually doesn’t move this fast, so being 3-6 months trailing is okay. Right now, you can not be one month behind. Actually, your recruiters probably have better market data than your compensation team. They are seeing it with accepted and declined offers every day, with pre-screen expectations, with comments they are hearing from hiring managers on offers they are hearing about.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s about pay until it’s not about pay.

We have been sold an old paradigm that we love to believe is true, but it’s only half true. Pay being equal, all the culture and leadership stuff matters. Pay not being equal, no one cares about your stupid skills development program, and Billy the nice boss. First, pay me what I should be getting.

We have a major crisis on our hands right now as organizations. You can only solve so much of this by backfilling talent and turning on your recruiting machine. You first have to turn off the exit pipeline leaving your organization. Settle down the turnover and it will be easier to recruit and build back to where you need to be.

You have a ton of employees who are staying and not resigning. Those folks are now doing more to take up the slack because turnover is so high. As leaders, this is the time you actually make your money. Full court press on making sure your folks are taken care of in the ways that are important to them, that they feel appreciated and seen, that they matter.

It’s not about the folks leaving. It’s about the folks who are staying!

How Realistic Is It for Your Entire Company to Take Collective PTO? #SummerShutDown #HRFamous

On episode 70 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss the 2021 Summer Olympics, the concept of collective time off and entire companies shutting down, and the lack of women returning to the workforce.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)

Show Highlights

2:30 – The Olympics are here! Tim’s wife is Olympic-obsessed and watches anything and everything.

4:00 – KD’s favorite Olympic sports are men’s basketball and the decathlon. He loves seeing some bigger dudes struggling with the run at the very end. Tim is a swimming and track-and-field fan.

6:45 – JLee is more of a winter Olympics fan, but she loves watching archery during the summer. She loves watching the Koreans kick butt in archery at the Olympics.

9:00 – To help combat burnout, companies have started to implement the concept of “collective time off,” where the entire company shuts down. Bumble recently decided to give their entire staff a week off at the same time.

11:00 – KD is skeptical of the concept — calling it Privilege — since a lot of companies cannot afford to let all of their employees take off a day like that.

14:00 – JLee mentions that at her company, Marriott, they cannot afford to give every employee time off since they are a 24/7 operation and that opens them up to controversy and criticism.

17:20 – JLee asks Tim if this can be used as a recruiting tactic. When he was working at Applebee’s, he found himself working an HR job on Black Friday even though there was nothing to do. Then they got a new CEO that changed the mindset not to treat everyone the same.

22:45 – There has been some more data released recently about women in the workforce. JLee mentions how it might not be an option for some women to return to the workforce now. Tim recently found a data point that said there are 2 million people that still have not returned to the workforce.

27:45 – KD thinks this isn’t an issue that HR can fix on its own. It can be a lot of work, but it can be very worthwhile since it’s one of the biggest untapped segments out there.

30:00 – JLee remembers seeing two moms that job-shared and thinking how progressive and seamless it was.

32:00 – Tim mentions how his brother-in-law is a teacher and only took home $10-15k a year after paying for childcare.

The Rules for Hugging at Work Post-Pandemic

Okay, I’ve been known as the guy who likes to hug, and I’m not sure why I have this designation but it might be because of this post here. Also, I tend to like hugs! And, I might have hugged a bunch of folks to kick off my speaking engagements demonstrating the Official Office Hugging Rules!

My mate (that’s what English male friends call each other) Chris Bailey (who is a world-class hugger in his own right) and I were messaging back and forth the other day on WhatsApp (Editor note: Tim has to tell you he was messaging on WhatsApp so he seems cool and worldly) and he said, “Mate, you need to write the rules for Hugging at Work after Covid”. He’s right, it’s time.

The key to great rules is you get them out before people start making up their own rules. Since organizations are just not figuring out return-to-work strategies, and a bunch of people are getting their Covid Juice (vaccines), the world, or at least Chris Bailey, is clamoring for how can we start hugging again!

The Rules for Hugging at Work, Post-Pandemic

1. Read the Original Rules of Hugging at Work, they still apply, but we needed some additions.

2. If both parties are Vaxed you are free to party! Hug away! Hug me like you missed me! Hug me so hard it might start an HR investigation! But only hugging, Sparky, don’t get too excited!

3. If one party is Vaxed and one party is stupid (err., not vaxed), Hug that moron if you want. Now, if you are vaxed and the non-vaxed person is wearing a mask, well that probably just helps knock down that coffee breath.

4. If you are not vaxed and the other party is not vaxed, please not only hug, but lick each other. The world is built around natural selection and there is nothing more exciting than watching natural selection take place in the wilds of the office!

5. Understand coming back into the office, Post-Pandemic, the world has changed a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge. There’s a good chance you hugging someone at work will get you fired. So, my recommendation is to hug anyway, no one wants to work in a world where “Karen’s” rule the world!

6. Don’t hug someone who is trying to give you an elbow bump. That person is weird.

7. Don’t hug someone who says, “It’s just a little bit of allergies” as they are hacking up a lung. Also, if you’re sick, have enough self-insight to let folks know so they don’t come in for a snuggle!

8. If it looks like someone needs a hug, ask them, and if they don’t say “No”, most likely they need a hug! The world has been an especially hard place the past year or so. A lot of folks need a hug!

9. Some of your folks are remote and they need a hug. Great leaders, in a new world of remote, hybrid, and on-premise, will travel and deliver hugs. It might be the single most important thing you do as a leader all year. Hug delivery.

10. Hug with DEI in mind! Have you hugged a person of color today? What about one of your Transgender co-workers or peers? What about someone of the same sex? If you only hug the opposite sex of the same color you are, you might want to ask yourself why is that? I’m an equal opportunity hugger! Come get some!

11. No group hugs. Let’s stay civilized, people! It’s a special kind of crazy the person who initiates a group hug. In HR we use “group hug” as profiling the truly psycho employees we have working for us! “Come on guys! Let’s all do a big group hug!” – Um, No!, Trevor!

Cancel Culture Can’t Cancel Hugs!

I did a survey recently and it turns out 89% of people want a hug, and the 11% who don’t like hugs, also hate puppies (this is my own survey, don’t @ me!). Here’s the thing, as we get back to work and see folks we haven’t seen in a while there will be emotion! We missed a lot of these assholes! Enough that we will want to give them a hug!

Also, if you have folks working hybrid that you don’t get to see as much, when you do see them you will want to do more than a cold handshake or fist bump. The world needs one big giant hug, and we certainly have some co-workers who need more than a few hugs!

Hugs don’t need to be canceled. Hugs are great! What needs to be canceled are creepy dudes who hug inappropriately and make the people they hug feel uncomfortable. Fix that problem! Leave hugs alone!

Your Future Office has 40% Fewer Seats!

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the largest private-sector employer in New York City, wrote in a letter to shareholders this week that remote work would “significantly reduce our need for real estate.” For every 100 employees, he said, his bank “may need seats for only 60 on average.”
New York Times

Feels about right. In my opinion, some sort of hybrid work model for office workers is going to win out. 2/3, 3/2, etc. You work from home (or wherever) some days, in the office some days. The additional flexibility people received during the pandemic is a very hard thing to take away at this point.

The “on average” phrase becomes the issue!

On average, Tim, we only need about six places for people to get there done. Okay, but on Monday’s you’ve asked everyone to come into the office for meetings and such, and told everyone they don’t have to come in on Fridays! Maybe we can find an office building that will let us just rent 4 days a week!

What this really means, is once again, the Office Furniture Industry wins! Did anyone check into see if Steelcase or Herman Miller maybe released Covid onto the world!?! The more time I spend in HR, the more I’m convinced that the office furniture industry really runs the world. About every decade or so, we (HR) is tasked with reinventing work and that means new work spaces.

Yeah, but if we are WFH Tim then you don’t have to worry about it! Yes I do! I now have to worry about employees working at home at their kitchen table hunched over in some chair not designed to work in all day, and I have the worker’s compensation claim. So, it is just a matter of time until I’m shipping new office “home” furniture to my employees to make sure they are taken care of and still have the cool hip culture we want with $1000 work at home chairs that are functional yet still look great in their 1970’s retro family room they’ve been piecing together off Ebay.

You know a great team building activity would be to have us send office furniture to everyone’s house and then we all get on a Zoom call and build it together! Hey, Ikea, get on this!

Hey, Billy, sorry, you got in at 8:30 am, you’ll have to share a desk with Mary until a spot frees up, here’s a folding chair.

This is why we’ll all be building “shared” spaces in our workplaces. Because you know what’s super effective and efficient when you’re trying to get that project done? Listening to some idiot drone on about some Netflix real-life crime drama series they are watching, and you don’t even like real-life-crime-drama, or Todd who is telling you all about it, but you’re stuck “In the Park” the cool nickname HR gave your social share space where work nomads without desks come to get stuff done, but not really done because no one can’t get anything done at the “Park”.

WFH, Hybrid, In-Office.

Everyone needs a seat, but just not all the time.

Welcome to show!

“I Fully Reject the Employment Model of Pre-Pandemic America!”

This was an exact quote on a comment on one of my blogs about how hard it is right now for companies to find talent in America to work hourly jobs. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this from an old GenZ or very young Millennial (basically early to mid-’20s).

What does this even mean!? 

Let me interpret, for the older millennials and GenXers in the crowd who are actually working and don’t have time to learn the GenZ vernacular. This is actually a cross of GenZ and Snowflake which can be very confusing sometimes to understand.

What this person is trying to convey is that they don’t believe they should have to work a job for pay and benefits (employment model of Pre-pandemic America). They actually love the employment model of Pandemic America – which is either sitting at home and getting paid to mostly not work, or actually just collecting unemployment and government stimulus to the tune of about $1000 per week, to do nothing at all.

Their idea is in Post-Pandemic America they would like to continue to get paid a living wage and benefits to do what they want. That might be something very productive and useful, like volunteering to help children to read or older people to have a better life in their later years, or it might be growing weed in their basement. This employment model is much more attractive to them. I get great pay and benefits to do what I want, not being told what to do by “the man”.

“The man” doesn’t actually have to be an actual “man”, it might be a rich woman or rich non-binary person. Basically, anyone who would make money off of their labor is now “the man”. They also reject anyone making money from their efforts, except for themselves. Which is actually wonderful if they would start their own business, but that would take work that feels too similar to an employment model of pre-pandemic America. Because of course, they would then become “the man”.

And you wonder why you can’t find anyone to come work for you? 

Some would believe this to be a socialist movement that has began to grow in America, mostly started by Bernie followers. No, this isn’t socialism, this what happens when you helicopter and snowplow parent your way to a generation that thinks the world should revolve around them.

I should only get A’s because my Mom says I’m the smartest little boy on the planet. And I should only get first-place medals because I showed up to the game. In fact, we should all get first-place medals because there should be no losers in the world, only winners.

And we truly wonder why terrorists want to bomb our country.

The world, in the end, will be truly harsh for these people if they don’t change. The world, since the beginning of time, has winners and losers. If you think socialist societies don’t have winners and losers, you might actually want to read about the history of socialist societies and inequality.

Do CEOs of companies need to make one hundred times more or a thousand times more than the average worker? No, probably not, but if you think you can just show up to a job and you should be within ten times of a CEO’s salary, you’re actually just ignorant.

This isn’t a political statement. This is the real world. Every single elected politician in the house and the senate is more wealthy than the average American by a giant margin. All of them. Winners and losers. People who take risks to start a business get all the bad and all the good. America, for good and bad, was built on Capitalism. It’s not perfect. I don’t know of a perfect society or culture in the world.

So, I do not fully reject the employment model of pre-pandemic America! 

Is it great? Nope. Can we do better? Yes.

Have we changed the employment model any over the past century? 1000%

Worker safety, health and wellness, D&I, training and development of skills, employee engagement, candidate experience, you could literally list a thousand improvements that have been made to the American employment model. And we’ll continue to improve.

I have hope that we’ll get better and solve our pay equity issues and we’ll continue to improve our diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all employees. America is a big and complex situation. Change does not happen overnight. For how bad young people think we are now, we have made tremendous strides along the way.

Okay, time to end this, I’m starting to feel like this guy…

The Rules for Office Romances

Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. As HR pros we know what this means, which is usually a lot of unwanted advances by horny dudes who think they have a shot at the hot co-worker, who has absolutely no interest in them at all.

Welcome to the show, kids!

I’ve given out some rules in the past. Everyone on the planet has read my Rules for Hugging at the Office, but Office Romances are a little more complicated than the simple side-hug in the hallway. So, I thought I would lay out some easy to follow, simple rules for Office Romances for you to pass out to your employees on Valentine’s Day:

Rule #1 – Don’t fall for someone you supervise. If you do fall for someone you supervise, which you probably will because this is how office romances work. In that case, get ready to quit, be fired, be moved to another department, and or get the person you’re having an office romance with fired, moved, etc.

Rule #2 – Don’t fall for anyone in Payroll. When it ends, so will your paycheck. At least temporarily, and even then it will be filled with errors from now until eternity. It’s a good rule of thumb to never mess with payroll for any reason.

Rule #3 – Don’t mess around in the office, or on office grounds. Look I get it. You’re crazy in love and just can’t wait until you get home. The problem is the security footage never dies. It will live long past your tenure with us, and we’ll laugh for a long time at you. So, please don’t.

Rule #4 – Don’t send explicit emails to each other at work. It’s not that I won’t enjoy reading them, it’s that I get embarrassed when I have to read them aloud to the unemployment judge at your hearing. Okay, I lied, I actually don’t get embarrassed, but you will.

Rule #5 – Don’t pick a married one. Look I get it, you’re the work-spouse. He/She tells you everything. You get so close, you really think it’s real, but it’s not. You’ll actually see this when the real spouse shows up and keys your car in the parking lot.

Rule #6 – Don’t pick someone who has crappy performance. Oh, great, you’re in love! Now I’m firing your boyfriend and you’ll have to pick between him and us, which you’ll pick him, and now I’m out two employees. Pick the great performers, it’s easier for all of us.

Rule #7 – Inform the appropriate parties as soon as possible. Okay, you went to a movie together, not a big deal. Okay, you went to the movie together and woke up in a different bed than your own. It might be time to mention this to someone in HR if there is at anyway a conflict of some sort. If you don’t know if there’s a conflict of some sort, let someone in HR help you out with that.

Rule #8 – If it seems wrong, it probably is.  If you find yourself saying things in your head like, “I’m not sure if this is right”, you probably shouldn’t be having that relationship. If you find yourself saying things like, “If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right”, you definitely shouldn’t be having this relationship.

Rule #9 – If you find yourself hiding your relationship at work, it might be time to talk to HR. We’re all adults, we shouldn’t be hiding normal adult relationships. If you feel the need to hide it, something isn’t normal about it.

Rule #10 – Everyone already knows about your relationship. People having an office romance are the worst at hiding it. You think you’re so sneaky and clever, but we see you stopping at her desk 13,000 times a day ‘asking for help’ on your expense report. We see you. We’re adults. We know what happened when you both went into the stairwell 7 seconds apart. Stop it.

There you go. Hope that helps as you prepare for Valentine’s Day!

How Many of Your Employees Are Going to Get the Covid Vaccine?

I’m sure you’ve been seeing the headlines, across America we continue to hear about front-line workers, healthcare workers who are refusing to get the Covid vaccine. In Ohio, it’s estimated that 60% of nursing home workers declined to get the vaccine!

I want to believe that those choosing not to get the vaccine when they could get that vaccine are just ignorant and natural selection will take its course. But, not even 100% of hospital workers, nurses, and doctors on Covid units are getting the vaccine they are eligible to get!

So, we know that when it comes time that we can help our own employees get the vaccine, not all will want it. This will cause a bunch of issues in organizations that we haven’t even come close to really knowing, yet.

Can you fire an employee who refuses to get a Covid Vaccine? 

Short answer? Yes. The longer answer depends on a number of factors. Do they have a legitimate religious exemption, not one they’ve conveniently made up in the past day or so? Do they have a document medical issue? Etc.

The reality is employers have a lot of ground to stand on when forcing employees to get a vaccine or lose their job. Getting the vaccine becomes a workplace safety issue and the government and the courts have shown a willingness to back these protections.

The more important question is, do you as an employer want to force employees to get the vaccine, or is there a better way to get the same result? This is really a company by company decision.

What are some ways to get employees to want to take the vaccine? 

Let’s face it, the vast majority of most employees, at most employers, will actually want to get the vaccine and get back to life as “normal” before the pandemic. So, anything you roll out to entice your employees to get the vaccine will be a bonus most probably didn’t need. That being said, here’s what I’ve been hearing some employers are doing:

  • Cash bonus to get the vaccine. $100 if you get the vaccine in a certain time period once it’s available.
  • Extra time off.
  • Extra flexibility around their schedule.
  • Making it super convenient, like offering vaccines onsite at the workplace.

It’s basically the carrot or the stick. Most likely, organizations will have to use both to get to the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reality is, based on data, you don’t actually have to have 100% of employees get vaccinated to make your workplace safe.

I think it’s important to remember that factor. You really don’t need 100%. As organizations do we really want to fight that battle with someone who just refuses, yet, they are a good, solid employee? I don’t think it will be worth it in the long run.

The one thing you might try is drafting an agreement for those who refuse which would state, they are refusing to get the vaccine and I would try and add in some language that gives you the right as an employer to be able to let other employees know who are those employees are aren’t vaccinated from a workplace safety issue, so other employees know who they need to continue to social distance from. Is this ideal? Heck no! There are HIPAA issues, among others. But, this is about how do we keep the majority of our employees safe.

Now, before drafting some agreement like that up on your own, get your legal counsel involved. They’ll balk at first, but with some pushing, they can put something together that will protect the organization from any legal blowback.

Again, you have to weigh the outcome of doing something like this. Those employees who refuse the vaccine, sign your agreement, and you make that public among your employees is now wearing a scarlet letter around. That isn’t good either, from a cultural standpoint.

This is why HR is so much fun! We don’t live in black and white, we live in the gray. There isn’t one perfect answer to the question. Of course, the best-case scenario is every single one of your employees wants the vaccine and gets the vaccine. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening with too many organizations.

What can your employees count on from you in 2021?

At the HR Technology Conference his fall, Marcus Buckingham gave a talk on some new research he did on resilience. It was definitely timely because of the year that is 2020. Also, when you talk to c-suite leaders all will say one of the most sought after attributes they want in their employees would be resilience.

From his research, Marcus found that employees determine how much they trust a leader and an organization comes down to just a few simple things, and one of those major things is not what you hope and dreams are for the organization, but what you can specifically tell employees that they can count on, 100% count on.

We see organizations come out all the time with examples of this:

  • Google said they will not have in-office work until September 2021, but the plan is to bring people back in-office at that point. Concrete date and plan, of course, it might get pushed out again, but at the very least you know you have remote work until September 2021.
  • I’ve seen CEOs come out in 2020 and tell their employees we will not lay one person off this year. For many employees in those companies, that was such a relief to hear.
  • It can be as simple as letting your employees know you will not be changing your benefit plan for the coming year or moving your home office after a merger or acquisition.

Of course, all leaders want to share their vision and dreams. We love aspirational leaders, even if we don’t completely trust them! What all employees want, based on the research, is a leader who will tell them what they can count on moving forward, even if it’s something small.

“I can you this much, for sure…” Then, from a trust standpoint, you move heaven and earth to make that happen! So, the old leadership axiom of under-promise, over-deliver fits really well into the trust dynamic.

Also, don’t make this lame! 

“You can count on me to always tell you the truth!” No, I can’t! That’s a lie right there! As soon as something happens, let’s say talks about acquiring a new company, or having your company acquired, you won’t be able to share anything about that.

“Hey, are we getting bought?” Well, I can’t yes or no to that question, and that’s the truth! No, you’re an idiot who is saying nothing, and now I don’t trust you.

What can your employees count on? 

Sometimes this is the most difficult question to answer because there is way more we can’t count on, then we can. But, if you can come up with those few concrete things, you can leverage that trust a long way.

2020 has shown our employees are not as fragile as we like to believe. For the most part, employees who truly understand the truth of their circumstances are much more resilient than we think. “Hey, 2021, is going to be extremely hard on the organization. We need sales, or we will be in trouble. Everything we will do needs to focus on how to help us sell more.”

Yes, some employees will run and find a new job. But, many more will fight and show their resilience and reward your honesty. At the end of the day, we just want to know we aren’t being lied to and after that, it’s pretty remarkable what we are willing to face and conquer.