4 Strategies Employers Can Adopt to Create a Fair (but not equal) Workplace

By Mike D’Abramo & Daniel Pozzebon

Sklar Wilton & Associates has been in the “building stronger brands” business for years and because the best brands are built from the inside out, we have extended our strategic services to help our clients navigate through disruption and futureproof their business.  In this three-part blog series, we’ll examine the Future of Work as it relates to businesses, brands, people, and culture to help you ask the right questions and find answers that are unique to your company.

You’ve probably heard all about “The Great Resignation”. Workers everywhere have reassessed their priorities and what they expect from their employer.  More jobs are going unfulfilled as employers struggle to meet these expectations, leaving them to compete with one another in the “War for Talent”.

When it comes to creating meaningful connections between employers and their employees, we start with a fundamental question: how can employers treat people fairly, without treating everyone the same?   

This is a universal problem in many walks of life—anyone who has two or more kids at home lives it daily. It means fulfilling needs and wants through methods as unique as the employees themselves. But can an employer with different employees at varying stages of their career and life create a culture of fairness that still caters to individual needs?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to the future of work, there are some key concepts that forward-thinking businesses are applying to meet the changing needs of today’s employees and win and retain the best and brightest talent:

  1. Applied Empathy: As we peer into the homes of coworkers, virtual work has shown us just how unique each employee’s circumstances are. Applied empathy is about context: understanding how their life and work interact to create barriers to overall well-being and satisfaction. Breaking down these barriers shows you care about your workers unique needs, which may not be the same as another employee, and enables them to meaningfully contribute to your company’s success. Most organizations we work with have learned that small tweaks to individual schedules or responsibilities can lead to a higher quality performance without significantly sacrificing efficiency or reducing business targets.
  1. Decision-Making Transparency: Organizational un-structuring and transparency is a sure-fire method to build trust and mutual empathy amongst employees. But this is not without risk: When does ‘respecting an employee’ become ‘setting a precedent’? This is where companies need to build up two areas: First, a sense of how decisions get made rather than what the results of the decision are. Transparency in why one employee gets to work adjusted hours, and another does not cannot seem capricious. And second, a corporate culture that has openness as its foundation. Employees will feel trusted and trust their managers to be fair, rather than become reliant on hard-and-fast rules.
  1. Meaningful Compensation: Pay is important to all workers, but it is not the only thing that matters. Employees are looking for rewarding work, personalized recognition, flexible benefits, training, and more. What is important to one, may be insignificant to another. Rather than having a rigid range based on the level or job description, why not look at customized packages that appeal to a prospective employees’ unique needs and wants? For some, that may be pay, for others it may mean more vacation time, or additional professional development opportunities. Consider what your company can offer and build it into your purpose. Employees are the engine and fueling them with their unique criteria is the only way to keep the thing moving.  
  1. Internal Alignment: In a competitive job market, it is important to know your company’s boundaries for flexibility. Employees will seek out what they need, so it is imperative to have the tough conversations internally before a job candidate asks you in an interview. This preparation will enable an effective two-way conversation more likely to satisfy both parties. Building these values into your culture and living them publicly will help attract the right talent and avoid leaving the organization in a position of flexibility you were not prepared for. 

Just as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for employees, there isn’t for employers either. What is your organization good at? How do you want to deliver on your strengths? You don’t have to give every employee exactly what they ask for, but you can develop employee-centric offerings that suit your company and attract the employees best suited to your culture. Does work from home fit your culture? Can you customize overall compensation packages? Take actions that tell employees that you understand the circumstances they are living and working in and are prepared to accommodate the best you can.

To learn more about our Disruption Audit Process and how it can help you futureproof your business, email us at futureproof@sklarwilton.com   

 For more on The Future of Work, tune in to the MacKay CEO Edge Podcast and hear our in-house strategist, Mike D’Abramo, talk about Futureproofing Your Business in Uncertain Times.