Last month, the Organizational Design team at iF brought together a group of 11 of Seattle’s top HR and culture professionals to join together in community. We discussed hiring, turnover, and growth in the context of the employee experience over dinner and drinks.
An Intentional Futures tradition since 2017, iF Salon dinners serve as an intimate forum to expand relationships, be inspired by one another's experiences, and stretch participants' thinking.
The idea is simple:
The purpose is to build a sense of community, collaboration, and partnership around a shared interest or theme through the mutual exchange of thinking and experiences.
Attendees included Chief People and Equity Officers from notable Pacific Northwest companies Syndio, BECU, Seattle Sounders, MOD Pizza, Brooks Running, Sellen Construction, Pioneer Human Service, Allen Institute, TA Group Holdings, Pantastic and Seattle Hospitality Group.
Guided by the topic: “What impact does hiring, turnover and growth have on the employee experience, and how does it affect company culture?”, Salon participants honed in on the following themes and insights.
Prior to 2020 it was expected and, in some cases, freely given that work meant a 40+ hour workweek, answering emails at midnight, taking work calls during dinner, and working through weekends. The pandemic changed the way we work and, more importantly, why we work. People are no longer willing to sacrifice their mental and physical well-being for a paycheck. There is a demand for more purposeful work that has a greater impact on society.
Not only are employees expecting a higher standard from their employers, they’re also experiencing feelings of being underpaid. According to a 2022 survey from Bankrate.com, 55% of workers say their pay is not meeting their expectations. Despite compensation benchmarking, HR leaders shared that they are still experiencing employees feeling this way. Empowered by a shrinking unemployment rate, employees are in a position to demand more from their employers, especially in the face of unhampered inflation.
For an oft amorphous and intangible concept, interest in quantitatively measuring culture is at an all-time high. Reducing the sentiments of employees to data runs the risk of removing humanity from the equation in favor of fiscal returns, thus thoughtfulness in using culture data is necessary. There’s a new emphasis on being “not data driven, but data informed”.
Post-COVID lockdowns, the concept of “community” at work is confusing and distant for most employees. Executives in the field are focused on ways to keep their employees engaged and adapt to a new normal through a variety of tactics. There is a craving for more human connection and placing boundaries that support a better work/life. Surfacing humanity in the workplace is one such way, by making authentic connections even between organizational hierarchies.
Clarity around the “why” in employees’ roles and day-to-day job functions is more important than one might think. In all aspects of culture, emphasizing context throughout the organization can serve to connect employees to the central mission and vision, and reinvigorate engagement.
A sense of autonomy in their roles is often lacking for employees, especially for those in entry-level positions, and at larger companies. Trusting employees to take the lead in situations where they have the subject matter expertise, or the lived experience, can go a long way towards building positive culture in the workplace.