Employers Blog

image003 - What would your employees say about their remote work-life balance?

What would your employees say about their remote work-life balance?

April 10, 2020 ,Erin Balsa, 5 minute read, Last updated April 13, 2020

Today at our weekly all-company meeting, a topic was work-life balance. PI’s been fully-remote for about a month now, and—judging from posts in the #pi-parents Slack channel—it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. Me personally? I’m managing a team, writing and editing, and watching my two preschoolers. My husband’s on calls all day for his job, so my work life and home life are twisted together like soft-serve chocolate-and-vanilla ice cream.

Side note: We’ve been doing weeklies since the crisis hit to make sure all employees have a frequent opportunity to ask our senior team whatever questions are on their minds. This week lots of PIoneers had questions around work-life balance.

Jackie Dube, our SVP of Talent Optimization, opened the meeting by inviting all 150+ employees to go to menti.com and answer this question: How would you describe your remote work-life balance?

If you’ve never used Menti’s “Mentimeter” before, it’s a free, cloud-based polling tool that allows employees to provide anonymous feedback in response to a prompt. As each of us typed words that described our work-life balance, the group could see aggregated answers in the form of a word cloud. Some responses included:

·        Better than ever

·        Non-existent

·        It depends on the day

·        Dream state

·        What work-life balance?

·        I had too many kids

As you can see, everyone’s circumstances are different, and so the responses varied pretty wildly. I encourage you to do a similar exercise with your team to see how everyone’s feeling.

5 things you should say to your people right now

Here are five things you can—and should—say to your people right now to ease some of their fear and anxiety.

1. “Take time for you.”

As PI CEO Mike Zani said at today’s all-company, “Take care of yourself first. Sleep, eat well, get exercise. If you have a kid blowing up, stop what you’re working on and take care of that. We are looking for sustainability. We could be working from home for months, so create some best practices around maintaining your own health and performance.”

And don’t just talk the talk; make it easy for employees to put this into action. (Next tip please!)

2. “We’re synchronizing our calendars.”

Earlier this month, PI synchronized calendars. First, we built in “no meeting blocks” three times a day. This allows parents like me to help with schoolwork or take the kids outside for a walk. It also allows everyone to squeeze in a workout, make a healthy meal, or just take a mental break. Beyond that, we implemented rules for when recurring meetings—like 1 on 1s and lunch and learns—can be booked to make it easier for everyone to collaborate remotely.

Lee Pichette, PI SVP of Strategy and Corporate Development, said today, “I really appreciate the idea of grouping 1 on 1s and team meetings at different parts of the day because we have to book ad hoc meetings now since we can’t just walk into each other’s office and whiteboard something. It’s easier to book these ad hoc meetings if we all have common availability.

3. “It’s OK if your child/pet/partner interrupts a video call.”

True story: My daughter has climbed on the table and sat on my laptop in the middle of an online meeting. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry that my employer will hold that against me. Your employees shouldn’t have to worry either.

As PI President Daniel Muzquiz said today, “I’m really enjoying getting to meet everyone’s kids when they impromptu jump on Zoom!”

4. “I know you might come to meetings less prepared than usual.”

I’m a high-formality employee and I relish getting all the details in order prior to a meeting. But some days, the time I would normally spend prepping for a meeting might be now spent helping my kids do worksheets. Rather than feel bad about my lack of preparation, I do the best I can. And I can feel good knowing that I have permission to be less than perfect right now.

As Muzquiz said, “When stuff interrupts your day that’s out of your control, don’t feel bad about it. If you’re trying to prep for the next meeting and you can’t, just accept it, apologize, and don’t beat yourself up if your work life isn’t as perfect as you want it to be.”

5. “Go ahead and take that vacation day.”

At a recent all company, Zani told us, “Go ahead and take a day off if you need it.” And you know what? I did just that.

Dube said today, “Taking time off might feel like a weird thing to do; you want a vacation day but you’re in your home. But if you need a day off, request it like you normally would. If you had a vacation planned, maybe take that time off from work anyway and spend it with your family without the pressure of work.”
What would your employees say about their remote work-life balance?

As PI SVP of Operations, Maribel Olvera said, “We’re not working from home. We’re home, and trying to work.”

This is a point in time. It’s a difficult one, but we will get to the other side. In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another and help each other through this the best we can.

123 - 10 tips for consultants during an economic downturn

 10 tips for consultants during an economic downturn

April 8, 2020 ,Laurel White ,5 minute read

COVID-19 has been challenging for all small businesses, and consultancies are no different. Within a matter of days, consultants went from being the most popular person on the call list to having radio silence.

As companies scramble to reduce spending, consultants find their calendar wiped clean. Due to stay-at-home mandates, they’re seeing their usual travel schedule halted. They’re left to navigate virtual engagements—yet still provide similar quality to in-person ones.

We know you want to support your clients during this difficult time. So we created a guide for you: Surviving an Economic Downturn With Talent Optimization.

Here are 10 of the guide’s biggest tips:

1) Encourage clients to take talent optimization one step at a time.

For clients rushing to put out fires and stabilize their business, talent optimization can be a daunting hill to climb.

During your engagements, position talent optimization as a series of surgical, highly-effective interventions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the entire discipline if tackled all at once. Instead, encourage your clients to take it one step at a time.

2) Have clients tailor their communication style to fit the org’s needs.

When disaster strikes, it’s important that clients have a clear communication plan in place. They’ll need to provide regular, candid updates to the rest of the organization.

Encourage your clients to tailor their communication style to the behavioral needs of each department. For example, finance or legal may require detail-heavy updates. Sales, by contrast, may prefer bigger-picture plans accompanied by a list of action items.

3) Appoint a fast-acting response team.

Clients should also form a crisis response team. This team will be responsible for making key decisions quickly. So it must be small enough to stay agile and fast-moving.

Consider that your clients likely want to act fast, but not rashly. You’ll want to recommend executives who are decisive, yet detailed enough to consider the data available before moving ahead.

4) Help clients adapt their business strategy.

Your clients will likely need to adapt their strategy to meet the evolving needs of the organization.

Start a dialogue among the key decision-makers. Work to determine which strategic priorities still make sense in light of the downturn. Likewise, help them decide where they should refocus their efforts.

5) Take the role of a mentor and guide.

Tensions can run high during a crisis. This is your chance to facilitate and provide your clients with data and facts.

Position yourself as a mentor and guide. You’re there to help your clients align on strategy, make tough workforce decisions, and emerge from the storm stronger. In a time when emotion and finger-pointing can derail good intentions, help keep clients on the right track.

6) Encourage clients to develop self-aware managers.

For clients to make it through this crisis, they need resilient leaders. And this resilience stems largely from being self-aware.

Clients should encourage managers to tailor their leadership to employees’ behavioral needs. Using a tool like PI Group Analytics, you can help managers visualize how their behavioral makeup compliments that of their team. In doing so, managers can have the confidence needed to lead through times of uncertainty.

7) Use behavioral data to help restore high-performing teams.

You can also use behavioral data to help clients uncover areas where team performance has faltered.

Take a team of highly dominant go-getters. The group likely has no shortage of opinions or ideas. But they also run the risk of talking past one another—and failing to come to a consensus. To fill this communication gap, you could recommend that clients add more reflective thinkers to the team.

8) Understand how remote work affects existing team dynamics.

Some teams perform well in an office setting but struggle doing remote work. You could have a team of outgoing collaborators that work well in person, yet lack the same energy in this new virtual setting.

Using team analytics tools like PI Team Work Styles, you can shed light on existing team dynamics. That way, you can quickly assess the state of these teams, determine where communication has failed, and provide clients with actionable solutions.

9) Diagnose the pains facing client organizations.

During a crisis scenario, employee engagement will likely take a hit. If your clients don’t have a way to measure disengagement, it becomes all the harder to actually solve it.

Using an engagement tool like the PI Employee Experience Survey™, you can help your clients pinpoint where there is the most pain and friction within the organization. From there, you can help them focus their efforts and resources to addressing these areas.

10) Fill organizational gaps by having clients hire from within.

Hiring may have slowed, but as clients restructure, new roles will inevitably open up. Thankfully, you can help them hire from within to fill the need.

When hiring from within, clients should act as if they’re hiring externally. Stakeholders must first determine the role’s requirements. Then, they determine the appropriate behavioral and cognitive benchmarks. From there, they select candidates who best fit the job target.
Be there for your clients in their time of need.

When so much is uncertain, take time to protect what you have. This isn’t a time to scale and grow; it’s a time to focus on client retention.

Throughout these difficult times, try to remain flexible. Seek to help your clients in any way, even if it doesn’t fall into your typical book of services. Clients will appreciate the work you do now to support them during this time. And, they’ll remember the gesture for years to come.