Reprinted from Allwork.com, published January 19, 2023.
Where, when, and how people work is on the minds of almost every working individual. The focus on the physical workspace, or “place,” is significant, considering it’s the second-largest fixed cost for most companies. Getting “place” right is key.
In this consideration of place, we must keep a keen focus on the essential element: people, who represent the largest fixed cost for many businesses. As leaders navigate the challenges of managing hybrid, distributed, and intergenerational workforces, the complexity of overseeing these individuals and fostering an environment for their success is unprecedented.
If you find yourself grappling with this aspect of leadership, you’re not alone. According to Eileen Crossin, founder of Quantum Potential, many companies fall short in providing their employees with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of the modern business world.
I recently had a conversation with Eileen to delve into the topic of human-centric workplaces and the tools leaders require to establish a thriving work environment. Here are some insights she shared on what every workplace needs to succeed this year.
Andrea: Eileen, let’s kick off with the hot topic of hybrid work. There’s a lot of positive talk about it, with studies from places like Stanford University and Boston Consulting Group showing that companies with hybrid work policies tend to be more productive and profitable. However, these studies sometimes overlook the individual—the person actually doing the work. What are your thoughts on that aspect?
Eileen: I love that you’re opening up with a very real and persistent problem most businesses are facing in 2024, and I couldn’t agree more. I heard a business leader say recently that revenue and profit are always first (and that wouldn’t have been the first time). To thrive in 2024, businesses must put the individual first.
Technology is offering us incredible advancements to create more efficiency through automation and data, but the value cannot be fully leveraged if our people aren’t better set up for success. The toll the current environment is taking on people can’t be overstated and, based on the trends we’re seeing in stress and burnout, if businesses don’t course correct these trends will have an incredible impact on companies’ bottom lines. So, for me, 2024 is all about how companies might rethink training and development to set people up for better success.
Andrea: I’m not an expert in training, but I did some reading to get ready for our conversation, and it seems like all employees appreciate training. Statistics indicate that training is a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. On the flip side, there’s this surprising stat that inefficient training can cost companies $13.1 million for every 1,000 employees. That’s a substantial amount – $13k per employee could make a significant impact. How can companies invest in their employees without burning through cash?
Eileen: Most of the trends and predictions we’re seeing, from polls like Gallup, for 2024 are about unprecedented stress levels, teams needing to do more with less, and disconnection between generations leading to a lack of engagement and retention issues. The typical solve for businesses navigating change is training, but the training programs that exist for workplaces primarily revolve around improving skills and knowledge. They don’t contemplate the mental load people are bringing to work. Programs may not look at limiting beliefs, fixed mindset, stress management, and the behavioral science required to create meaningful and lasting change.
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According to a Forrester report, about 40% of employees and managers are unsatisfied with on-the-job training. And according to McKinsey, only 40% of training is aligned with business goals. According to Statista, 59 hours are spent on training and an average of 16% of their budgets, so the gap is costly. The data supports the disconnection.
Andrea: You’ve worked for major tech and real estate companies, what are the trends you’ve noticed that are helping you guide clients on creating thriving workplaces in 2024?
Eileen: At Quantum Potential, we focus on training the mind for transformation. What I have learned as a sales leader for nearly 20 years is that pursuing high performance can come at a cost, if we don’t know how to access the tools we have within to work with our minds. Coupled with the stressors we’re all facing from the economy, to the climate, to geopolitical tensions, businesses are facing significant threats to their people’s ability to manage if new ways aren’t adopted.
We often engage in training programs that happen in silos, misaligned from the true root causes of business challenges. For example, if I am leading a company experiencing hyper-growth and I focus on training people on the product to improve sales, that may help the employee, but we’ve neglected to help them overcome any blockers related to their ability to perform in an environment that operates at that cadence and so the work may fall flat. If we don’t work with the individual to create awareness around blockers limiting them from being able to perform, we’ll never truly unlock their greatness.
Andrea: Now that we understand the issue and have a fresh perspective on where companies might be falling short with traditional training, what’s the special tool you suggest companies should think about for 2024?
Eileen: What’s important for businesses to consider as they’re designing a people strategy in 2024, is that their approach to development must change as people are bringing more blockers to work than ever before, which can directly inhibit performance.
According to TeamStage, 74% of workers consider a lack of development programs as the reason they’re not unlocking their full potential. This means that skills training is not the only approach to training that matters, and that considering a more holistic approach to development can be a game changer. The more holistic approach, and the secret tool, is training for the mind.
Andrea: While I’m hearing you talk, I’m thinking about my own training experiences. Many times, the training is a single session, conducted in an ideal setting, but not really put into practice in the real world. You’re all motivated during the session, but the learnings tend to fade because they’re not applied in actual situations. How do you tackle that challenge?
Eileen: Our program is designed to bring the experiences we host into a daily practice after the session, to create stickiness and change through the scientifically proven approach to microactions.
While the challenges we face are unprecedented, the good news is that we all possess the inherent tools to help us navigate the waves of change. If we understand how to leverage our minds more effectively, we can combat stress, build resilience, and perform more optimally.
As leaders navigate the challenges of managing hybrid, distributed, and intergenerational workforces, the complexity of overseeing
individuals and fostering an environment for success is unprecedented.
Andrea: You talk about modernizing the workplace, say more about what you mean here and who this applies to.
Eileen: The modernization is not only about the wider view of what training and development needs to mean for businesses looking to improve performance, it’s also about bridging the divide between generations. Senior business leaders need an understanding of what matters to Gen Z, to reduce the gap with younger talent who not only expect to bring their whole selves to work, but who also seek out environments that develop them in holistic ways.
For companies looking for a strategy to manage the Gen Z workforce, (the demographic group born between 1996 to 2012, who will make up 27% of the workplace by 2025), an understanding of expectations is critical. The characteristics that define this generation are a more holistic experience, where they believe their employers have a responsibility to invest in their development in ways that help them achieve their highest potential. Further, this is a generation that cares about innovation, and 49% are likelier to say that the company fosters innovation if a growth mindset is actively practiced in the workplace.
Andrea: You have provided a lot to think about. Would you give me a recap of the “how to” from Quantum Potential on the secret tool to thrive in 2024?
Eileen: Yes! It’s mindfulness to create awareness of the limiting beliefs blocking our potential and to support our stress tolerance. Its mindset for mental resilience and its microactions to navigate creating change… with an extra emphasis on the critical nature of this work for intergenerational workplaces.