Gen Z constitutes 24% of the US workforce.

Unsurprisingly, they have different needs and aspirations than their managers. They grew up in a digital world, experienced the great recession as children, and entered the workforce mostly as remote workers. This has had an impact on their working styles, career aspirations and core values.

More than their predecessors, Gen Z values independence and ownership at work. This makes them more likely to voice opinions, suggest initiatives and take concrete steps to achieve their goals. They also look to work at companies that are aligned with a larger purpose and social impact beyond just work.

To attract and engage Gen Z, companies need to be thoughtful about their approach. Here are a few things that can help:

Make it flexible
84% of Gen Z employees identify work-life balance as a top priority. An EY survey found that 50% of Gen Z mentioned flexible working is important to them. One way to address this is to allow discretion over where work is conducted. To make this work, companies have to adopt transparent policies and set clear expectations.

Deepen DE&I
Gen Z is possibly the most diverse generation of all. 48% of Gen Z in the US identify as non-white. Approximately 77% of Gen Z stated that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there. Gen Z employees are more engaged when the company aligns with their values, such as having diverse representation within teams and focussing on fostering an inclusive culture.

Plan for their professional development
Gallup research identifies development opportunities as one of the most important factors that makes younger employees decide to stay at their company. Statistics by SHRM show that 62% of Gen Z prefer to customise their own development and career path.

Professional coaching supports Gen Z in their personal development and allows them to supercharge their careers. The self-directed and personalised nature of coaching helps to develop key capabilities to have a positive impact through their work.

Revive your online presence
Gen Z are digital natives who grew up in the age of social media and smartphones. To attract Gen Z, companies should focus on increasing their online visibility. Being innovative with your social media presence and diversifying channels to reach potential employees can be impactful in being visible to, and sparking an interest amongst the Gen Z candidates.

Companies can greatly benefit from fostering generational diversity. To attract and retain Gen Z, the work environment has to be supportive and allow them to develop both as professionals and individuals.

Wellbeing at work is a hot topic for both employees and employers.

While wellbeing encompasses the elements of having time for a life outside of work (work-life balance), as well as a state of physical health and energy (wellness), it also involves broader dimensions of a holistic and thriving life.

Gallup found that there are five elements of wellbeing for a successful life:

Liking what we do and being motivated to achieve our goals.

Having supportive relationships.

Having a secure and stress-free economic life.

Good health and energy to get things done.

Feeling safe and having pride in our community.

A focus on wellbeing supports both individual and company goals. Having a sense of wellbeing means individuals build better relationships with their colleagues and ensures they have the mental capacity to work on complex tasks. A study by HERO and Mercer revealed that companies with a comprehensive wellbeing program outperformed the S&P 500 Index in 16 out of 24 quarters.

Professional coaching is a powerful way to support employee wellbeing in the following ways:

Aligning values
Research shows that shared values between the individual and their company results in greater commitment, feelings of success and self-confidence. These feelings can act as a buffer to stress and burnout, increasing overall satisfaction and wellbeing at work.

By engaging with a coach, people are able to identify areas where their values align closely with the work that they do, which parts of their job mean the most to them, and where their strengths lie. This enables individuals to find their work motivating and meaningful. These positive effects are not just confined to the workplace, but also impact other aspects of their life.

Building new skills
Engaging in personal development helps performance by increasing confidence and self-awareness. Performing well increases the feeling of belonging, purpose and accomplishment that contributes to wellbeing.

Becoming a better communicator
Personal wellbeing is closely tied to the strengths of a person’s interpersonal relationships. In general, people who communicate effectively tend to experience greater wellbeing.

Coaching can help improve communication skills with any type of audience, which in turn improves interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

Building resilience
Resilience is a personal resource that protects from stress and potential burnout. Coaching focuses on building awareness by challenging limiting beliefs, setting realistic goals and finding ways to meet them, to help adopt more positive ways of thinking and working.

With the challenging year that has just gone by, and the uncertainties we continue to live in today, many employees are going through heightened stress, isolation and anxiety. How employers and managers respond to this, makes a big difference in how people show up to work, as well as their engagement and productivity.

The work environment post pandemic is becoming increasingly likely to be a hybrid between remote and office working.

In a recent PwC survey on remote working, less than one in five employees say that they would like to go back to the office as it was pre-pandemic. In addition, Gallup’s research shows that nearly 65% of US workers who worked remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so.

While remote work has its challenges, the advantages seem to have certainly surpassed its shortcomings. Perhaps the most important shift has been in people’s expectations of what work means to them. The blurred lines between work and personal life have also highlighted the growing importance of how work influences wellbeing.  

There are a few ways organisations and leaders can make a hybrid work environment a success:

Set clear expectations
In order to navigate this successfully, managers need to set clear and fair expectations about when people are expected to show up, either individually or as a group.

For example, when on-site presence is required or favoured, and when it is not, who gets access to what information and who needs to be in on certain decisions. Managers need to be honest with their own expectations too. When people are not expected to be in the office, managers need to ensure that team meetings are conducted uniformly on the same communication platform (such as zoom) even when part of the team is in the office.

Be fair
Building a culture of fairness in a hybrid work environment can be tricky. Remote employees may feel that their colleagues in the office have more opportunities to learn about what is happening in the organisation, and have an unfair advantage when it comes to being recognised and rewarded.

Managers need to be sensitive and inclusive about how they treat people. Blocking out time for one-on-one check-ins with all team members, regardless of where they are, is important to ensure fairness.

Make it fun
Many people miss the informal team bonding sessions, fun conversations and water-cooler time of the pre-pandemic work life. Find ways to bring back some fun and playfulness at work.

Set out times where there is no agenda, and teams can come together remotely to talk about their lives and interests outside of work. It is also important to make sure that these activities are open to all, regardless of their location. This helps people feel connected and have a sense of belonging, which enables them to be themselves at work.

Organisations should think of how they can leverage the learnings and experiences of remote work to intentionally plan for the future of work. The steps taken today will guide how work will be carried out in the future.

As organisations settle into new norms, they need to anticipate the shift in people’s expectations and priorities and consider how to adjust. This will be paramount to building a healthy and successful work culture.

When we think of a leader, we usually think of a CEO, founder, political or religious figure.

These are all familiar images of what we think constitutes a “leader”, but they reflect roles instead of behaviours. Leadership doesn’t start when we acquire a certain position; it starts when we have the ability to influence, deal with challenges effectively and stay ahead of the curve.

Anyone with the right mindset can be a leader.

Leadership development programs fail when they overlook the fundamental role of mindset, and that leadership can come from anywhere and not only the top. Mindset is how we see ourselves in our professional and personal life, it’s what we believe about who we are.

When we start to shift our mindset to that of a leader, we start to behave, and be seen, as a leader.

Organisations and senior management can expand their impact when they inspire others to think and act as leaders. An important first step is to cultivate a “leadership mindset” within your team.

Here is how you can work towards this:

1. Embrace discomfort
Korn Ferry’s 2018 study on thought leadership and mindset shows that those who have a “specialist mindset” and believe that their success largely depends on their technical expertise, have narrow career paths and hit a plateau early on in their careers.

In contrast, those who believe that their success depends more on functional and social skills, tend to be more open to a wider range of opportunities, and reach senior roles more frequently.

Allow your people to work outside their expertise and experiment with new roles and skills to help develop changes in their mindset. For instance, organisations can encourage employees to take short assignments in new functions, where they don’t rely on prior experience.

They can pick up new skills and understand that they don’t necessarily have to rely on their core expertise to contribute effectively.

2. Create opportunities for cross-team interactions
A critical part of developing new mindsets is to give people opportunities to work with different teams and find role models outside of their current professional circle.

This can be done by opening up virtual communication channels for team bonding and discussion opportunities. When employees are given the opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives, they feel like a valued and empowered part of their organisation.

3. Delegate to develop
Managers often end up delegating tasks and responsibilities to their employees to help reduce their own work-load. This can lead to missed opportunities to truly strengthen and empower your teams and employees. Instead, delegate tasks and responsibilities to grow and strengthen the capabilities of your employees.

This might be difficult at first for those who are used to overseeing everything, but trust in the abilities of your colleagues and you will benefit from the power of teamwork!

4. Commit to a coaching culture
Helping employees create a positive narrative about themselves is essential to develop a leadership mindset. A coach can help employees find meaning in their work. Research by Theeboom (2013) shows that coaching can boost critical leadership capabilities by 20-30%. Coaching is personalised to every employee’s unique needs.

By listening, asking questions and creating accountability, coaches empower employees to take ownership, make effective decisions and use their strengths to make successful contributions at work.

We can empower individuals and teams to achieve great things. Shared leadership allows people to work together on a common ground for a common goal. True leadership is multidimensional, and anyone who is committed to making a positive difference, irrespective of their role, is a leader.

The covid crisis has magnified many of the challenges that women face in their career.

If not done well, the “future of work” that is expected to adopt a healthier working from home culture in some shape or form will increase the gender gap instead of helping to bridge it.

Did having both parents at home help balance household responsibilities? Unfortunately not. According to McKinsey’s 2020 Diversity and Inclusion report, mothers are still more than three times more likely than fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving. Since covid hit, nearly 1 in 4 women are thinking of either trading their current professional role for a less senior one, or quitting.

Companies risk either losing their female talent or not benefitting from its full potential. We can take a few simple steps to help remedy the deepening of gender imbalance.

“Face time” opportunities

Ensure that everyone has the same “face time” opportunities. Flexible working and working from home are expected to be the norm in most organisations. While this is important for talent retention, it may put some at a disadvantage.

Since women take on more household responsibilities than men, they end up taking advantage of the flexible working options more than male colleagues.

The risk is that men may spend more time at the office and get more informal communication opportunities that help further their careers. A solution for this is that companies can set times when all team members are in the office.

Give women a seat at the virtual table

With the pressure to make effective decisions, it can be convenient to huddle up with just a few team members, at the last minute. This may leave women unexpectedly left out of important team discussions as these meetings are scheduled last minute or women are not on premise when these occur.

As meetings are now largely virtual, teams should make extra effort to ensure more inclusive participation and seek input from those who’ve spoken less. These simple and everyday behaviours show dedication to building an inclusive culture.

Minimise biases

For a long time, women have been dealing with biases and stereotypes at work. This has been amplified during the covid crisis and remote working.

For instance, there are false perceptions that mothers cannot be as focused at work, due to childcare responsibilities, compared to fathers. Employers need to implement initiatives that help address these biases.

Professional coaching can be especially helpful. It can help people work through their biases, which prevent them from acknowledging women’s contribution and treating them fairly.

Create opportunities for women to return to work

According to the National Women’s Law Centre, nearly 2.2 million women have left the workforce during the pandemic in the US alone. This can lead to a serious shortage of female talent in the post-pandemic world. Companies should initiate returnship programs to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after some time away.

Given the unique dynamics women deal with, emphasised by a remote world, the commitment to gender diversity and inclusion is now more important than ever before.

If we don’t act now, we could end up alienating a vital part of our workforce. Building a more flexible and empathetic workplace is everyone’s responsibility.

Individuals who believe that their skills, abilities and talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and positive relationships have a growth mindset.

Teams and employees with a growth mindset are able to thrive when faced with obstacles, and bounce back quickly after challenges and failures.

The growth mindset concept was introduced by Carol Dweck. Dweck’s research found that when teams and companies have a growth mindset their people are 34% more likely to feel committed to the joint mission, and 47% more likely to trust their colleagues.

In contrast to this, employees and teams with a fixed mindset believe that no amount of effort can help them improve their skills and talent.

This is why, not surprisingly, employees with a growth mindset regularly outperform their peers with a fixed mindset.

There are ways to encourage your people to develop a growth mindset:

  1. Walk the talk
    This is probably my favourite value – have integrity! Developing a growth mindset is not solely in the hands of individual employees.

    Leaders must have a personal commitment towards modeling a growth mindset. They must recognise the untapped potential of team members and, most importantly, their own growth potential.
  2. Reward efforts
    It is common for organisations to emphasize a performance driven culture where desirable outcomes and results are celebrated.

    Dweck’s research shows that this leads to employees avoiding challenges and difficulties altogether, as they only go after goals that can be easily achieved. This slows down productivity and innovation as teams fall into a fixed mindset.

    To help develop a growth mindset, spend time brainstorming, praise efforts, acknowledge steps taken towards a goal, and give regular feedback.
  3. Seize failure
    Organisations and leaders should create a safe space where team members can experiment, acquire new skills and learn from their failures.

    This decreases fear and encourages them to take on ambitious tasks and continuously improve, which fuels creativity and innovation.

    Challenges and limitations should be looked at as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than obstacles that should be avoided.
  4. Commit to an “always learning” mindset
    Teams with a growth mindset enjoy challenges, and strive to learn and develop new skills.

    Provide employees with learning and networking opportunities to build new skills and get out of their comfort zone. This will help them evolve, and commit to achieving their goals.

When leaders and organisations support and empower their team by focusing on their growth and continuous learning, employees are more motivated and find meaning in their work.

As a result they are more engaged. This not only has a positive impact on organisations, but also allows every employee to reach their full potential.

In response to the uncertainties presented by Covid-19, organisations have transitioned to remote working. As a result, many companies struggle to find ways to maintain a cohesive culture and engaged team.

Gallup’s 2020 study showed that only 36% of employees in the US are engaged. This means employees “show up” at work but are less motivated or creative. Companies now must adapt to this new work environment to increase employee engagement.

With teams being remote, employees have limited opportunities for off the cuff interactions. This makes it harder to stay connected and engaged. However, there are a few creative ways to help remote teams get excited and motivated to perform at their best, even during tough times.

  1. Emphasise Connectedness
    One-to-one check-ins and free flow team discussions can pave the way for social interactions and bonding times. This builds collaboration and engagement. To truly increase connectedness, these check-ins are opportunities to acknowledge employees and help create a space where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns.
  2. Appreciate and recognise efforts
    Every employee deserves to feel valued and appreciated at work. When employees feel like they are cared for and their efforts are being recognised, they feel more motivated and engaged.

    Not being in the same location means that there is less non-verbal communication which conveys most of our appreciation. This is why everyone has to make extra efforts to share their thoughts and express appreciation, even if it sometimes feels like over-communicating. Here, more is better!
  3. Work-life balance is not a nice to have, it’s a must have
    Glassdoor 2017 survey found that 87% of employees expect their company to be supportive of their efforts to balance work and personal responsibilities. The sudden transition to remote working has left employees feeling anxious, concerned and stressed. It is important for employers and leaders to empathise with these struggles. Teams should be encouraged to take breaks and pursue their personal interests alongside work.
  4. Embrace transparency
    In times of uncertainty, communication is key. Don’t talk only about wins, but also share vulnerabilities. Sharing information with employees and teams and being transparent about developments at work helps build trust and commitment.
  5. Avoid working in silos
    A 2017 Stanford study found that employees who worked collaboratively stuck to their tasks 67% longer compared to their peers who worked alone. They were also more engaged and successful. Remote working can be isolating. It makes collaboration and building relationships with team members difficult, and working independently seems easier in comparison.

    However, this affects information sharing and priorities get misaligned. Creating opportunities where teams can have informal discussions and conversations helps reduce feelings of isolation and promotes a sense of belonging.

Remote working is the new normal. Organisations need to make it their mission to continuously adapt and respond to the changing needs of their teams. Prioritising engagement is a sure way to achieve growth, productivity and success.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted how people live and work. The sudden transition to remote working has been isolating and blurred the line between professional and personal life.

Working from home can mean working longer hours and navigating a new work-life balance. It has also limited valuable bonding time with colleagues. 

Leaders find themselves torn between being empathetic to their employees and increasing performance. They want to support the needs of their employees while making sure the business remains competitive in order to survive. 

Agile and resilient teams are the key differentiators between businesses that thrive and those that struggle to survive. Unfortunately, studies show that current levels of resilience and agility remain low across many businesses. Aon’s 2020 report – The Rising Resilient – showed that only 29% of employees are resilient in the UK. Korn Ferry’s 2015 report found that only 15% of executives are agile. To survive and be competitive, companies need to nurture these qualities.

Promote resilience

Resilience is the ability to cope and recover quickly from setbacks and move forward. The current forced isolation due to remote work has led to a significant decline in support and social connections. This, coupled with other uncertainties, has negatively impacted employee’s resilience levels. Having low levels of resilience is like having cracked foundations that could crumble at any time. Needless to say, this is risky for any company.

You promote resilience by helping people expand their perspectives and find new positive ways of looking at and dealing with problems. Research by psychologists Grant (2009) found that coaching significantly helps build resilience. By promoting a coaching culture, coaches can encourage employees to be less isolated and leverage the support of their organisational network. Coaching nurtures a positive attitude and effective coping mechanisms that help employees thrive, even in the face of challenges.

Build Agility

Agility is the flexibility to adapt to dynamic circumstances. Being agile has become the name of the game for both individuals and companies.  It determines the ability to survive. 

Encouraging agility within your team requires you to believe in and empower them. Empowered employees build a solutions driven mindset and make the most of their situation. This allows them to continuously adapt and prioritise people and interactions over processes. Having a coaching culture helps unlock an agile mindset and culture. With their executive coach, employees can discuss their challenges and roadblocks and find new solutions. 

Coaching utilises a range of approaches that helps employees address their challenges in real time and continuously evolve their ways of working. This improves productivity as employees are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Having a coaching culture will help your company and team thrive.

An engaged team adds significant value to a company’s performance, allowing organisations to be more agile and create a competitive advantage.

Introducing coaching in organisations is a powerful strategy to elevate employee engagement and develop employees across a wide range of needs and skills. Coaching promotes a process of ongoing development and learning that can help each employee make the best use of their talents, strengths, time and energy. To quote Bill Gates – “Everybody needs a coach.”

However, professional coaching is generally viewed as a development resource reserved for leaders and senior management. There is an assumption that the learnings at the top will filter through the organisation and that culture is driven primarily by those leaders. According to the Human Capital Institute report, only 23% of employees feel that everyone has equal opportunity to receive coaching in their organisation. This, when studies show that coaching high performing employees only has marginal benefits, while coaching average performing employees has the highest impact.

Wouldn’t it be better to provide teams, at every level, the tools to perform at their best, and look at individuals as the true contributors that they are?

Why should coaching be available to all?

Research shows that employees’ first few years in their career is critical in shaping them as professionals and to gain transferable skills that can have a significant impact on the pace of their growth. While the benefits of coaching senior managers and leadership has been well documented, it can also be vital for the development of employees who are starting out in their professional journeys.

Research by the International Coaching Federation reveals that 80% of employees who have been coached report increased self-confidence and over 70%  benefited from improved work performance, relationship and communication skills.

By creating a dialogue that leads to awareness and action, coaching helps employees become strategic thinkers, chart their courses within the organisation and navigate politics and personalities successfully. By making executive coaching available across the organisation as a development tool, every employee can have the opportunity to engage in their professional development from the very beginning and supercharge their contribution to their organisation.

Why should organisations care?

Organisations often struggle to maintain a high performing and engaged workforce. An agile organisation is one where leaders and employees can work together in the face of uncertainty, build competencies such as resilience, communication, emotional intelligence and collaboration to make the most of opportunities to adapt quickly and thrive.

Coaching focuses on active learning, developing strengths and remaining agile to equip employees and leaders with these skills. Gallup’s research shows that employees who are coached to use their strengths are able to contribute to 14-29% increase in overall business profits.

By offering coaching as a company wide benefit, organisations show employees that they care and have a vested interest in their personal and professional growth. When employees are given the tools to perform at their best, they are happier, confident and more engaged members of their organisation.

Diversity has become a priority for many organisations. And if it is not, it should be.

In fact, around 69% of executives in Deloitte’s 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Insights survey cited diversity as a priority. This is because the benefits of having diverse teams are now well recognised. For instance, a study by Boston Consulting Group has shown diverse teams to have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.

To fully capture the benefits of having a diverse team, it is important for organisations to build and sustain a culture of inclusivity. Inclusion makes employees feel valued and engaged, which allows them to be more productive and innovative at work.

Inclusivity can be accomplished when team members and leaders are committed to building a culture that promotes diversity.  One-to-one professional coaching is a powerful way to support leaders who are promoting diversity, and for individuals to follow best practices at work whilst being authentic to themselves.

Leading With Awareness

Often leaders are aware of the benefits of diversity but struggle to find ways to create a truly inclusive culture. Developing leaders to have an inclusive mindset is important to unlock the potential of a diverse workforce. Coaching provides a safe and confidential space to allow them to explore this.

Executive coaching helps bring leaders’ conscious as well as unconscious biases to the forefront. By probing them to re-evaluate existing practices and organisational dynamics, one-to-one coaching can help leaders broaden their perspective.

Being inclusive sometimes requires being bold, taking the uncharted path rather than falling back on usual practices. Coaching encourages leaders to take responsibility for building and sustaining inclusive behaviours within their teams, by holding them accountable for their actions. Research by psychologists Ford et al. found that accountability played an important role in reducing biases of managers towards employees of ethnic minorities. Accountability promotes fairness by keeping biases in check.

Elevating Under-Represented Employees

The supportive and empowering nature of coaching can help overcome challenges faced by under-represented team members within an organisation. In addition to managing day-to-day organisational stress, these employees may also have a heightened sense of guardedness towards the biases they face at work. This leads to employees feeling an “emotional tax”, putting them at a risk of being disengaged or even leaving the organisation altogether. Reports show 40% of men and 36% of women from under-represented groups cite unfairness as their main reason for leaving.

Coaching can help team members feel supported by creating a trusting and safe space for discussion with an unbiased third party. One-to-one coaching allows employees of any level to truly be heard and develop solutions that are unique to their situation. Coaches work with employees and team members to help them build confidence, and identify and amplify their unique strengths to help accelerate their performance and career progression. 

Diverse teams can flourish when employees of all levels within the organisation proactively and collaboratively work on a culture of inclusion, where everyone feels comfortable enough to express their authentic selves. Coaching is an ongoing process which provides employees with a confidential, safe and supportive environment to freely explore their fears and challenges. Coaching supports long-term behavioural change, expanding an individual’s perspective, focusing on their strengths and embracing their uniqueness. This provides employees of all levels and backgrounds the tools to better navigate their organisation and career.

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