A message to leaders on their impact on fresh graduates
Considering the recent debates
on what form of office work will take shape in the future, this article takes
no sides! There are impacts on all stakeholders. This article serves to open
the minds up and shed the light on the consequences of such decisions on the new
generation of leaders (Fresh Graduates / Youth).
Since Nov/Dec 2021, I have been
hearing of multiple organizations and governments calling for back to office. My first reaction was yeah, finally we are
back to the norm. Then as I started thinking it more, my thoughts were (still
are), yeah, eventually, we are all going to return to office work, but at which
level and at what cost?
Corporates around the world are
still trying to find a way to maneuver the challenge: Go back to doing business
in the traditional way or adopt the "internet firms’” new way of working or trying
to figure a new model? In other words,
allow flexibility or not!
corporate world has been consistent with one thing: "Leadership Teams” keep
changing and with those changes comes a new and different corporate strategy
leading to a different Point of View.”
Some companies have taken the
work-from-home as an excuse to do some cost cutting while others gave the
employees the choice; you can call it freedom through responsibility, and some
have come up with a different model of alternating days or weeks.
Some other great "people driven”
organizations have allowed 2 months a year of remote work from home country
(MENA or other expat-based organizations)!
Most of the options sometimes
have a backfiring effect as employees tend to work more from home because they
can’t define the working hours, nor stop replying to e-mails while at the dinner
table instead of practicing the work-life balance.
Last week my friend came back
from the Netherlands after joining a new company whose head office is there.
My first question was: What was
the best thing you found there after your initial 8 weeks?
Without hesitation or thinking,
he said: "everyone is working because they love to work; they work hard and surely
can sometimes stay late to meet deadlines. But the minute they leave work,
there is no mentioning of work till the following morning or post-weekend when
they are back in office!”
I followed with a question: what
if they receive e-mails on their mobile? What if the boss needs something
urgent from them? My friend just smiled and turned his head: no one (including
the CEO) is allowed to have company email access on their mobiles or their
personal computers (not for security reasons). Work is done in the office
(except for special Laptop flexible team members who work remotely or whilst on
a business trip; they manage their own time).
Urgent matters are a result of
poor planning and anticipation!
"This is LEADERSHIP! Leadership
drives employee loyalty!”
In addition to employee
loyalty, there is another important aspect that has not been tabled very often:
what is the leadership impact on remote working generally, and more
specifically on new joiners’ development, especially fresh graduates?
To me, the benefits of RTO on
fresh graduates outweigh the drawbacks.
Let us start by the general
point: impact of remote or RTO on the overall business vis-a-vis the
employee(s) morale and how would the latter impact business and the overall
COVID era taught us a lot! As
productivity is the "Ultimate” goal, it is enabled by technology. The latter is
here to stay.
My advice to whomever is making these
decisions has 2 parts:
Part 1: how are you going to decide on?
I suggest a shortlist of 10 questions
to be addressed by all those involved in the decision-making process (including
recommendations from team members or advisors):
- What are the business
benefits (measured in productivity & finances and supported by proper facts)?
- Is this decision driven by
a business model change or your lack of trust in your employees? Has your
decision taken all aspects into consideration?
- Is the decision of
increasing remote work driven by a cost saving exercise (i.e. real estate
rental space / utilities / Transportation salary cuts, etc.)
- What costs are tied to the impact
of Remote or RTO decision on the morale of the
employees? What is the price of this employee flexibility? At what cost does it
come? (Hint: mutual trust & loyalty)
- What is the impact of a
wider range of global opportunities or more precisely global exposure on
- What would the challenges
include: the famous home office positive (and arguably negative) impact on
- What functions are required
to RTO and which functions are more productive working remotely?
- Has there been a
communication plan around this? Are you using Zoom/Teams/Skype/other digital platform
or is it a face-to-face town hall speech addressing the reasons & the
- What type of future office
is the new vision looking at? Is it a corporate office with ties and hierarchy
or an organization as flat as possible with a young and vibrant office feel?
- What impact will remote, or RTO have on the unemployment record
or even on your loyal employees?
To put things into perspective, experienced
people can and will continue to operate in any model as they are driven by
outcomes rather than location. Humans have worked in various unplanned or
unforeseen situations and will continue to do so. Build your trust in your employees and let
them build that trust in you. Trust is key to loyalty, commitment, and
satisfaction; these lead to productivity increase!
But the worry is how to deal with
our new Talents coming out fresh from their studies and
enable them to thrive? This leads us
to Part 2.
Part 2: How are we
going to make it a driver to a successful developmental working model for new
joiners / fresh graduates?
- What about onboarding new
employees (especially fresh graduates)? How is the onboarding process going to
- What is the impact of the human
/ physical interaction and at what cost?
- How will we make up for the
loss of learning from peers in the office?
- What will replace the water
cooler, photocopy, printer moments & coffee breaks?
- How will your mentoring
programs work? What is their impact on the mentors in terms of time and
- What are mentees required
to do differently to maximize the output of the mentor-mentee relationship?
- When and how are the
cross-functional learning sessions planned and are they just a tick box?
- What other enablers to the
development of your newly joined talent are needed to complement your program?
Those meaningful side conversations that provide more in-depth learnings than a
full crash course.
- Have you looked at the new
& effective communication styles, techniques, and tactics to enable those
- How will you gauge employee morale or pulse employees’ challenges?
- What is the impact on the
cultural fit, teamwork, and collaborations?
- What connections are they building?
Will these new coalitions benefit them and the organization?
- What is the impact on company
policies and how will these be enforced:
how will you enforce a "harassment policy” in a hybrid model? (If you
have already done so, what are your learnings?)
- How are these new joiners evolving and how do they learn?
- What is the impact on these new joiners’ commitment &
loyalty to the organization?
A lot of questions present
themselves. Obviously, I presented more in Part 2 because that requires leaders
to step up!
To those negatively stereotyping the
new joiners as "demanding and entitled”,I would say: YES, they
are entitled to be given the opportunity to learn and develop. They are
the ones who will be making these tough calls in the not-so-distant future! We
have a duty towards the youth that goes beyond company process and step by step
guides. Leaders play a major role in
enabling youth development. To provide
an opportunity for new joiners to grow & develop, leaders must apply
different leadership styles based on the readiness level of each individual. They should allocate sufficient time to coach,
direct, establish rapport to empower and bring out the best in them.
The ability to work from home or anywhere in
the world is an incredible benefit that many organizations are now offering as
a perk. The flexibility and autonomy of remote work has greatly outweighed the
benefits of free food, an ergonomic work setup, and more than what the office used to offer. However, one very
important aspect of work
culture has taken a hit: the
ability to build strong and meaningful relationships with coworkers, employees,
Start simple by building in time for connection
and bonding into your company culture. From virtual happy hours to icebreakers
before a meeting, incorporate pockets of engagement into your meetings and
presentations to help your employees feel close, even while working apart.
Decisions on RTO or any form of
hybrid is a change! Change requires people involvement. Change is a process,
and it should be enabled, adopted, and used by all functions, but most
importantly, accepting the importance of Change Management should firstly be fully
endorsed by the "Leadership Team”.
This is how the ProClipse
Consulting Team will advise you to set the course of your future
direction and help you implement your successful business decision.