Prioritising your people in the new world of work

Terri Moloney, senior director, employee success at Salesforce, shares the importance of ensuring digital tools become connectors rather than barriers and leave no one behind in the new era of hybrid working

You don’t need to be online from 9am to 5pm to support your customers. Work has shifted from a place you go, to what you do. Today every company must create its own digital HQ which connects its employees, customers, and partners, allowing them to thrive in a work-from-anywhere world.

The beauty of this for us at Salesforce has been empowering our teams to adapt their work around their lives. That could be parents wanting to log on after doing the school run, encouraging colleagues to take a longer afternoon break to re-energise, or generally letting both early birds and night owls work when they feel most productive.

Yet while we want to make it as easy as possible for people to work in an environment that’s best for them, the last thing we want to do is inadvertently exclude people by taking a remote-only approach to work. We don’t want to make barriers out of the digital tools that are meant to be liberating.

For example, across the generations we have in our workforce, we’re seeing a different approach to this new way of working. Some of our more tenured, experienced team members are comfortable spending less time in the office, because they already know their way around the organisation. 

Our early career talent, on the other hand, are gravitating more towards the office, drawn to the social and collaborative aspect of work. They’re here for the community and the camaraderie, and for those whose home environment may not be conducive to focused work, a place where they can get in the zone. So with these two extremes of the hybrid work spectrum, we want to find the right balance.

We value that interaction between early career and experienced talent. We want our early career talent to learn from those who are more experienced. It’s important then, that we create a new way of working that prioritises coming together for collaboration, learning, engagement and culture building, on both a professional and social level. 

We’ve asked our teams to think about when we should come together, and for what purpose? As we think about the type of events we want to engage our community in, the milestones we want to celebrate, and how we can unleash our best creative and strategic thinking, we will be looking to engage both physically and digitally in a much more purposeful, dynamic way. This way, both our junior and senior teams can get the most out of the times they work together.

How we support our managers in helping deliver this will be crucial. We acknowledge that this is going to require them to develop very different skill sets. Their job traditionally has been about driving productivity and employee engagement, but it’s been simpler when people have been all together in the same place. 

Our mid-level managers in particular are the core people who are influencing our workforce across the world, and helping us act in a much more empathy-driven way to prioritise people rather than process. We will be thinking carefully about how we drive that further in an environment where it takes a more considered effort to create transparency in your relationships and interactions. Equally, we will need to address how we build trust in geographically dispersed teams, and how we strengthen the employee/manager relationship in that context – especially for those where remote working could cause them to withdraw socially from their peers. 

Building psychological safety is much harder through a screen, but it’s our goal to do that by giving everybody the digital skills that will actually help them engage better and more productively, even if it does look different now. We want to capitalise on the opportunity to upskill all our demographics, to make sure nobody gets left behind. For example, we want to approach job descriptions and career pathways in terms of what roles need as a whole from an attributes perspective, versus a more black and white list of skills and qualifications. The more qualifications you add to a role, the smaller the talent pool you have access to.

We are focusing on how we give people skills that they can actually use to advance themselves in the workforce, like critical thinking and analytical skills. It’s why we launched Trailhead, our free online learning platform to empower anyone from any walk of life, including our employees to skill up for the jobs of the future. With Trailhead, you can learn in-demand skills, earn resume-worthy credentials, and connect with a community of Trailblazers for mentorship and employment opportunities.  If people can feel confident in their ability to learn, they won’t be afraid to try something new.

At Salesforce, it really is about trying to raise awareness of opportunities that exist in the company, for a whole variety of people. That’s what we feel will bridge any barriers across our flexible teams. Upskilling people from within, rather than expecting them to come to us with a raft of certifications under their belt already, is also how we plan to continually diversify the talent coming into our business and growing within it at all levels.

Demystifying digital and technology will be key to how we keep our people connected, and make our new way of working inclusive and accessible for everybody, regardless of their work preference or skillset. That’s top of the agenda for me as we move into 2022.

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