One of the many seismic shifts we’ve seen in the past 18 months is how organizations look at HR and the employee experience. ASUGFORWARD tackled these topics head on during the conference’s “Accelerating Business Agility” track of sessions, which featured SAP customers, partners, and experts charting not only these shifts, but also the ways SAP is helping its customers manage its talent—the most vital part of its business.

Jonathan Becher, president of Sharks Sports & Entertainment, kicked off the conference by discussing how the hockey team has transformed the company during the past year. One of the main points he made was that “employee experience is just as important as customer experience.” Organizational leaders need to be thinking about how their employees are doing and what they value, so the company better retains top talent.

Here are four more takeaways from the Accelerating Business Agility Track from ASUGFORWARD.

Employee Trust

    Recently, more and more organizations are realizing the importance of gaining their employees’ trust. When employers build trust with their workforces, it allows for everyone to have peace and flexibility in the workforce.

    During the session on “Facilitating Lifelong Learning,” Greg Selke, VP of HXM (human experience management) Value Experience at SAP, said, “I think the past year, organizations have either sort of won or lost the employee value prop battle with their workforce, based on their behaviors and actions, and there are certainly a larger group now I think that don't trust as much.”

    Having your employees’ trust is important not only for their experience working at your company, but also for the experience they provide customers. While employees have the option to work at or find a company they trust, employers can also gain this trust by aligning their actions with their words and providing opportunities for employees to grow. Providing learning opportunities also helps them grow and acknowledges that you value them. Selke added that when making decisions in your organization, make sure to consider how your employees will perceive it and if it will impact the level at which employees trust their employer.

    The Growing Importance of Flexible Work Options

      For some of us, working from home was a new experience, while others already had been working entirely remotely. Due to the events that have transformed our lives over the past 15 months, we are seeing more and more organizations adopted flexible—or “hybrid”—work options that allow workforces to split their time working remotely and in the office. During the “Attracting and Retaining the Right Talent: Insights from the Next Generation of Workers” session at ASUGFORWARD, Joaquin Vicente Nicolas Fernandez Meza said, “COVID-19 has shown us that people can work from home.”

      Now that most employers and employees have seen many roles successfully performed from home, people want to keep having flexible work options—even when offices open again. This will allow families to save money on child care costs, a factor that might allow more women to remain in the workforce. They’ll decreasingly feel the need to choose between their families or working.

      While some employees and employers want to remain fully remote, others prefer a hybrid model. Erin Hemmingson, integration architect analyst at Accenture and a recent college graduate, said, “I would fully support a hybrid environment. I think it’s very difficult to work fully virtually where there is no option to go in.”

      There was a consensus from this session: Employers need to be prepared to offer more flexible work options to employees. 

      Opportunities for Growth

        With the cost of education continuing to rise, being able to provide opportunities for growth is becoming increasingly important. Recent graduates or current students that are entering the workforce are looking at what companies provide in terms of opportunities for growth and learning.

        During the aforementioned “Attracting and Retaining the Right Talent” session, Joaquin Vicente Nicolas Fernandez Meza, a current undergraduate student at the University of Central Michigan, commented, “If the company doesn’t provide opportunities to grow professionally, I probably wouldn’t pursue a job there.”

        Students are taking note of what companies have to offer, and they want to be at a place that values and invests in them. Additionally, if companies don’t offer opportunities for growth, it is hard to retain talent. Later in the session, Sulaman Shah, a current student at Ontario Tech University, told attendees, “You don’t want to necessarily stay in one role for the rest of your life.”

        In order to retain top talent, companies need to provide opportunities for employees to grow and learn. This could be in the form of covering the cost of degrees or courses, or it can mean having mentors and teaching skills that staff need to progress in the company.

        Culture Is Key

          Last, but not least, organizations need to remember that culture is key. A strong workplace culture is crucial, whether you’re working on retaining your current talent or trying to gain new talent. Having a good culture looks different at every company, but it can include diversity in the workforce, valuing employees, ensuring different teams work together, and having good communication between leadership and the rest of the organization. For recent graduates entering the workforce or people transitioning between roles, culture is one of the main factors people evaluate while interviewing. Hemmingson said, “The most important thing I looked for was culture fit.”

          Why is culture so important? Simply, people spend the majority of the day working with their colleagues, so a good culture fit means a happier workplace.

          Another vital component of a company’s culture is diversity. This has become a major topic of conversation over the past year as employees want to see companies that have a similar makeup to the world around them. It is important to make the workplace as diverse as possible so there are different perspectives working on addressing different business challenges. “I think that diversity should be a very big factor in the workplace,” Meza said.

          These are just a few of the takeaways from the Accelerating Business Agility track from ASUGFORWARD. To catch all the sessions, check out the recordings on-demand.

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