Talent challenges continue to be a priority for most agencies across the federal government. Frequent turnover, hard to fill roles, and shortages in mission-critical skill sets are all too common in most federal agencies.
There are countless strategies and approaches agency leaders can, and have, tried to address these complex challenges. But, building organizational empathy may be just the tool HR leaders need to make a near term impact.
Building organizational empathy is a strategic element for organizations trying to hire and retain top talent in an increasingly tight labor market. Research by the benefits technology firm, Business Solver in their State of Workplace Empathy report reveals that empathy is a key driver of retention, motivation, and productivity. More than 90% of employees surveyed indicated they were more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. In fact, respondents were even willing to trade off hours and pay in favor of increased empathy.
In an increasingly competitive talent environment, building a culture of empathy should be a key part of the people strategy in all organizations.
For the past 12 years since my family relocated to Northern Virginia, I’ve talked to my dad at least once a week on the phone. I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, though, that our conversations have evolved into a pretty familiar pattern. One that around various versions of one question: “What’s keeping you busy these days?” Of course, I’ve always got a list – starting new projects at work or at home, scrambling to get the next proposal in or find the next client, preparing for the sale of our house, or any other number of to-do’s whether large or small. Even my dad who’s been retired for the past five or so years also seems to always be busy. This phenomenon certainly isn’t unique to me and my dad.
The Culture of Being Busy
A few years ago the Atlantic published an article asserting that “Ugh, I’m so busy” has become the status symbol of our time. And in 2018, sociologist Anna Akbari’s Psychology Today article challenged readers to define their success not by their lack of time, but by the quality time they dedicated to the people and things that they loved. It seems our culture has come to embrace busyness over all else. The idea is that to be successful and happy we need to constantly have schedules filled to the brim. That being important means battling multiple conflicting priorities. Or that productivity means just having too much on our plate to possibly fit in one more thing.
And I think I’ve taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker. I pursue hobbies with such zeal that they look more like vocations. And I work so hard to provide my kids with opportunities, experiences, and activities that I stay busy keeping them busy. But at the end of the day, I don’t think I’m any more productive, significantly happier or more well off because of how busy I’ve become. Nor do I think any of the other folks I encounter who are constantly busy are any of these things either.
I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of David Epstein’s Range, his 2019 counter punch to the drive for specialization, often represented by the 10,000 hour rule, as the best path for achieving future success. In his book, Epstein pushes back against the idea that deeper and deeper specialization is the best way to achieve success, especially in rapidly changing and unpredictably complex environments. “We are often taught that the more competitive and complicated the world gets, the more specialized we must get,” Epstein notes, but according to his research, given that most business environments today are not governed by standard rules and predictable patterns, maintaining a competitive edge will require organizations to hire or train generalists who are often more willing and better able to find solutions to novel challenges.
According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends, many business leaders see the trend towards needing more employees who are capable of taking on diverse and varied job tasks. According to the report, a vast majority of respondents expect that the increased adoption and use of technology will mean that jobs in the future are far more multi-disciplinary than they have been. And that as artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and robotic process automation take hold, there will be a trend towards “superjobs”, or jobs that combine parts of different traditional jobs into integrated roles – these jobs will span the hyper-specialized areas of expertise of many current workers. Read More…
Chris Cancialosi’s article was just published in July’s issue of TD at Work.
How do organizations not only survive, but thrive in today’s new operating environment? By developing resilience and agility. Knowledge transfer is critical to this, and talent development practitioners are positioned to help companies prepare. In “Knowledge Transfer: The Key to Organizational Resilience and Agility,” Chris Cancialosi details:
what knowledge transfer is and why it is critical to organizations’ resilience and agility
the role of effective knowledge transfer in the future of work
ways to develop and strengthen an organization’s ability to effectively transfer and manage knowledge.
It’s been over fifty years since Title VII, the section of The Civil Rights Act that prohibits workplace discrimination. But how far have we really come?
Fortune’s data team recently released their findings on the diversity and inclusion practices of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 list. The big reveal?
Only 3% of this year’s companies are transparent about the demographics of their workforce. And of those sixteen transparent companies, 72% of senior executives are white males.
Now, more than ever, companies and organizations are feeling pressure to not only be more representative but also more inclusive of people from traditionally marginalized groups. Reports on gender and racial diversity in tech have forced the industry to make public commitments to increase diversity in their workplaces and inspired other companies to do the same.
Millennials are demanding more inclusive work cultures. Our sociopolitical environment has made conversations about the inclusion of marginalized people in every area of life absolutely critical. And according to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Report, 78% of respondents now believe diversity and inclusion is a competitive advantage.
But if major companies can’t even talk publicly about diversity, what do conversations inside of these organizations look like?
It’s funny how things go in cycles. What was critically important to us last year may not be a concern to us today. And things we used to take for granted, we now cannot fathom living without.
Think about the Internet. Most of us weren’t even aware of it until the mid 90’s, but where would we be today without it? Although I type here from the comfort of my office chair, my office is at home and I rarely need to venture into NYC thanks to technology. My office material comes from Amazon.com and my calls are handled over a VOIP platform. All driven by the web.
Knowledge management is a similar area you’ve probably never paid attention to. Maybe you haven’t heard about it yet, but knowledge management is already affecting how you live and work.