MetriSight Ep.49 - How to Fix the Work-Relationship Problem

October 31, 2023 00:28:52
MetriSight Ep.49 - How to Fix the Work-Relationship Problem
Metrigy MetriSight
MetriSight Ep.49 - How to Fix the Work-Relationship Problem

Oct 31 2023 | 00:28:52

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Show Notes

HP's recently published Work Relationship Index, based on a global survey of 12,000 knowledge workers, 3,600 IT decision makers, and 1,200 business leaders, reveals a universal problem: Employees have an unhealthy relationship with work. HP exec Andy Rhodes summarizes the challenges and highlights ways to foster actions that will drive improvement.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:22] Speaker A: Hello, listeners, and thanks for tuning into this episode of MetroSight. I'm Beth Schultz, VP of Research and Principal Analyst at Metrogy. And with me today is Andy Rhodes. Andy is the Division President, Hybrid Systems at HP, and he has joined me to share some insights from a global study that HP conducted this year with the mission of understanding how employees feel about work. Toward that end, HP surveyed more than 12,000 knowledge workers, plus 3600 It decision makers and 1200 business leaders across twelve countries. So, a very massive project. And as a result, HP published its findings in its first ever Work Relationship Index. Andy, welcome. [00:01:12] Speaker B: Thanks, Beth, and great to see you again. And thanks for having me on the show. [00:01:17] Speaker A: Well, thank you for joining us. Now, let's just start off quickly. What is your role at HP and sort of, what's your relationship with the Work Relationship Index? [00:01:27] Speaker B: Yeah, sure, sure. So at HP, I'm responsible for all of the products and services we have that surround our PC to create a great ecosystem for hybrid work. So think about all of the video products. So webcams headsets, keyboard, mice bags, everything that someone needs around a PC to get work done. And that extends all the way into the office. Not just at our home offices or on the go. As we know, everyone works in many places, but also in the conference room themselves. So we made an acquisition of a company called Polly a year ago, and Polly is part of my organization. [00:02:11] Speaker A: Okay. And we're certainly familiar with Polly here at Metroge with all of the video conferencing and headset, et cetera, devices. So let's move on to the project itself. What motivated HP to undertake this survey and why now? [00:02:33] Speaker B: Well, I think why now is because the world has massively changed in the last four years. Everyone knows that that's not new news, but if you think about the debate that's been raging, really in the last year and a half since COVID restrictions were lifted across the world, a lot of that discussion has been around where we work, and we realize that that's just not enough. We realize that HP, given our background and our history, is steeped in sort of this relationship between our company and our employees. In fact, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, pioneered lots of new ways of working, named it the HP Way 80 years ago. But we realized that the conversation had to get beyond where we work and why we work. And how we work was just as important. So I think the reason that we've done this study is to get more insights for ourself as a big, big company and employer, but also on behalf of our customers and the whole community to see what else is impacting the relationship that people have. It's definitely not just about where, it's about how. It's about why. [00:03:45] Speaker A: Okay, now Metroge metrogya looks at employee experience. We look at workplace collaboration, so on. And our data shows that most companies have either as a result of the pandemic and the work from home versus hybrid work, et cetera, they've either launched or they've revamped an employee experience initiative specifically to address work from home, remote work, et cetera. Kind of all those changing workplace dynamics. The Work Relationship Index shows that, and I hope this isn't a spoiler, but it shows that the relationship that employees have with work is pretty unhealthy despite all this effort that companies are putting into employee experience. So I have a couple of questions. First, what are the characteristics of a healthy versus an unhealthy work relationship? And then in terms of that unhealthiness, what are companies getting wrong? What's happening? Why are we still seeing such unhealthiness in the workforce? [00:04:53] Speaker B: Yeah, that's a great question. I think the interesting thing is that if you really dig into the study and if you're a data hound like I am, you want to go deep and you really want to cut it multiple different ways. But there was 50 kind of factors in our research that really then laddered up to identify six major drivers. And I think employees have to tackle all six, not just one or two of them, to really create this work index. And only 27% of people are actually happy at work. 27. So that means 73% have this somewhat unhealthy relationship. But if you unpack all of those reasons, let me go through a couple of them with you. And again, there's been many studies over the years around these. So we're not saying anything like radically different. It's just bringing it all together in one survey. The first is that what people want is finding meaning and purpose in their work. And so it's fulfillment. First attribute fulfillment that's not about where you work or how you work. It's about why. I talked about this notion of why, what gives them purpose, what brings them to work every day, what gets them excited. And so that's one that no one can ignore and feeling useful and feeling empowered when they have that meaning with the work that they do. So that's number one. The second is all centered around us as leaders. Are we leading with empathy and are we leading with this notion of emotional connection? And that's really what drives trust between people that work and the employees or the senior leadership inside of those companies. And it's more than just saying that you're going to do that. It's about demonstrating it through behavior and action. And that really comes down to the culture of a company. And is this empathy and emotional connection part of the culture that they espouse and very connected with? That is people centricity? Is the company putting the thoughts of people and community at the forefront of many of the decisions that they make? And many of us work for profit organizations. And so the PNL is incredibly important. But are you going about it the right way? Do you have your employees best interest in mind as you make decisions along? That interestingly enough, what came out was skills. Are people learning the new skills that they think they need and are going to need in this next generation of how we work. And one that comes to mind because it's so topical right now that I hear all the time is AI, is AI going to replace my job? How do I get skills on AI? So there's a fear factor, there a little bit on new technology that I'll get to. But also the companies that we see been successful with this index are the ones that do place an emphasis on reskilling upskilling, allowing both the hard skills that people need and the soft skills in a world that has a lot of unknowns. The world we live in has a lot of unknowns. So skills was a new one and so placing emphasis on that, continuing to develop people in role, not being scared that if you develop someone in these new skills then you're just enhancing their sellability to other companies. The ones that aren't a surprise to me and it's what I deal with every single day is tools and workspace. So those are the last two tools been the right technology, the right equipment, the right space for them to be successful and the training around those tool sets. I mean it's pretty clear that two things are happening here on the tool side. One is if you don't give the right tools to people, they feel they can't do their job and then they question whether they're at the right company. Because if you can't do your job then you know that the company won't be successful or you individually won't be successful. The second that what we've really seen with the consumerization of technology over the last ten years is that tech has a tech that you put in people's hands, shows their worth within the company. So if you give them an ugly, fat, low end PC, then that's the worth that you're putting on that employee. And so the things that they can get now out of consumerization of technology is high. And so they have this expectation of the set of tools they use, whether it's at home, on the go or in the office. Their expectations are much higher because it maps with their self worth. And then the last is workspace. And this is one that's got so much air cover over the last year or so. This is the do we trust employees to work in multiple places? Do we have the right policies and do we enable them to work from home or on the go or back in the office? And there's so much research and so much debate on what is the right policies there. And my personal view running a relatively large organization is that you need flexibility and it has to be hybrid. And so what? I mean, flexibility is that different job roles, different cultures, different parts of the world will dictate different types of policies. But you have to be consistent. And then the reality is that organizations don't operate like an.org chart. There's an operations model and an organizational chart model. And so you can't just do it for your specific people that you manage directly. This workspace. Policy has to be done thinking about how companies actually operate, not how they're organized. So those are the other ones. I think the unhealthy relationships is where we see that they lack things like that. They lack emotional support, they lack fulfillment and meaning in the workplace. They're too strict on policies. Those are what are creating this unhealthy relationship. And then those are the things that people can work on. And what was surprising in my last point, because I know I've gone long and passionate about this one, but my last point is, again, coming back to the data, 83% of the knowledge workers said they're willing to actually earn less to be happier at work. So there is actually a direct correlation here between the economics of it and allowing this to happen. Now, would they actually accept that if push came to shove? Maybe not. But it's a clear indication of just how meaningful this is versus just compensation. [00:11:40] Speaker A: Yeah, I mean, that's 83%. That's a big chunk of workers saying that. So let's dig into these. Not all of them, but a few of them a little bit more. And I want to start with sort of that traditional thought of bringing together people, processes and technology that's long been touted as sort of the key for business success. Now, based on the research that you guys have done, can you sort of summarize that as still being a desirable. [00:12:16] Speaker B: I think, you know, there's a lot of maslow hierarchy of needs at play here, as know it's not one or the other. And I fundamentally believe that it starts with employing the right people with the right talent. You have to have a set of processes that allow you to deliver on your executables. Too much process then leads to lack of innovation. We've seen that. But too little process can also lead to a lack of productivity. So there's a huge balance there. And given that we're HP, then of course we believe, but everyone else does, that technology is radically important, radically important. But you can get all of those things right and still fail in terms of the relationship that you have with your employee base. And so this is where I think there is this more focus. And as leaders, we think about just the word productivity, and it's very clinical. But you think about these other attributes. We talked about meaning, and I'll share some anecdotes from my own experience. I think people don't just care about work and meaning, but they care about the communities that they live in. A part of that community is the people they work with. So their peers, part of that community is connecting themselves with schools and local resources and local charities. And we did something recently which was an eye opener for me here in Austin, Texas. We had a bring your kids to workday. That's pretty common. And I actually got a huge amount of requests if people could Bring Their Parents to Work day. Nice started off as a Bring your parents to Work because they were with the kids. It was during the holiday vacation period. But actually what we found is that people were so proud to show their parents where they worked in this high technology environment, what they specifically did every day. And so I think about this community aspect, it's so, so valuable. It's just remembering that we're all people at the end of the day, and we have these back end teams that we rely on, like our family, like our communities. And I think that's somewhat overlooked in many cases. So, yes, people process technology, still critical, still desirable, but you have to inject these other things on top of that as well. [00:14:52] Speaker A: It is so fantastic when the company becomes really shows an appreciation of the community right, and gets involved in all of those community efforts that employees undertake. I want to ask a little bit more about leadership. You talked about leadership, the importance of leadership a couple of times. You talked about having leaders who are empathetic, who can establish a sort of emotional connectedness. Does that in your opinion, does that require sort of elevating that type of leader to a C level position? Somebody that maybe is the chief Employee experience officer or maybe Employee Engagement officer, sort of and not only giving them that position, but then empowering them with budget and staff and technology to really drive, change and sort of help know all leaders throughout a company develop that empathy and emotional connectedness. [00:15:56] Speaker B: Yeah. Beth, I think we're veering a little bit away from what's in the study and the data. So I'll give you my own personal opinion on this versus the study telling us what's right or wrong on that specific question. But I think there's elements of this in the data. If you extract it and look at it, I think that a Chief Employee Experience or Engagement officer can help. They can help. They can help set policies. They can help understand the culture of the organization. They can look at metrics. They can take that data and that metrics and share it with the C suite. But ultimately, that is not the panacea or the only thing that will allow this engagement with employees to change. It has to be ingrained in the culture, lived, breathed, and then executed upon. And you cannot rely on one person to do that. And so my personal view is that it's everybody's responsibility because it's a cultural element and you can't have a single individual or department responsible for the whole company. I think where they play a massive role in the HR department or beyond is to help the rest of the organization establish how you measure, how you metric, how you improve, what are some of the specific programs. But for me, this has to be driven into the purpose of the organization. And then you have to employ the right leaders or you train the right leaders to ensure that those cultural elements are espoused in the way that people work every single day. So again, it helps, but it's not the panacea, it's not the thing that's going to go fix it. It's all about the culture. And that culture is set by a leadership team, but it's executed by everyone. Whether you are running thousands of people and responsible for thousands, or where you're an individual contributor in a company, it's just as important to have that connection with the culture and believe in it, to make these kind of changes and make people have meaning in their work and appreciate those communities that we talked about. And then it's also about where these people can help, is looking at these metrics, looking at this work study we've done, establishing, use our framework, use another framework. But just like, let's take skills again. Where is the budget for that? Is the budget prioritized? Is it happening? Are leaders giving people then the room to go reskill and learn and take their time out of their busy day to day lives? All of those things need to happen. And so measuring and metricing, that can always help, but it has to come from the top and it has to also come from people understanding that that's what they want out of a workplace. [00:18:47] Speaker A: I think you're sort of getting to another question that I had, which is going back to that people centricity. So you talk about leaders, but then you also talk about people being at the heart of decision making within an organization. But I don't know, sometimes that can smack as being sort of a lofty. How does that work? How do you make it actionable? [00:19:12] Speaker B: Yeah, that's a great question. I think coming back to the data and actually one of the surprises in the data was that there was a huge discrepancy between what managers thought and what people thought on many of these attributes. And I'm throwing it in here to sort of come back to answer your question, because just one in four that's take knowledge workers consistently sees their employees treating them as valued and respected, as opposed to just being a number one in four. I think that's a terrible percentage. And so action is at the heart of this. You're right, you have to have action because there's such a discrepancy between those two numbers. I think it is actionable. I mean, I think one is really starting to listen and understand why there is that gap between whether people think they've been treated as a number and not been treated with the dignity they want and the impression that they have from managers and leaders in the company. It all starts there because it's going to be different in every single company. So we didn't go into what is creating that gap. We just know there's a gap there. So I think the action starts with a really good dialogue with employees. Whether it's through surveys, roundtables skip levels, is to understand in each of the companies that we work with or if people are listening here, go dive deep into that and understand what the meaning is because you can't action it unless you understand what is creating it. Is it the culture? Is it in specific parts of the because of maybe one or two specific leaders? Is it that the company has policies? It's just not well known. So I think that's all part of it. And at the end of the day, having had two kids, my son just got married, so my two kids are now gone and out of the home. But I always remember that they never learned, and this is a cliche, and they never learned from what you said, they learned from what you did. And I think that has to be a deep part of this, is that people are looking to leaders in terms of actions, not in terms of rhetoric. And in this period of time, more than ever, with so much uncertainty in the world, the time for talk is sort of over somewhat. And so everyone is looking more than ever at the actions that we take and the decisions that we make, especially in a very tough economic and political environment that we're living in. [00:22:03] Speaker A: I like that actions, not rhetoric. And congratulations to your son. Okay, so let's talk about tools. Now, obviously, this is kind of HP's baby, right? And if I'm not mistaken, the study showed that knowledge workers, they're not feeling super great about the tools. They're not feeling like they have all of the right tools and equipment to be successful, especially in a hybrid environment where staying connected and feeling connected, they're not the same thing. So what does HP do with the insight that it's gleaned from the study in terms of its own product and product roadmaps and how it works with enterprises? [00:22:50] Speaker B: Number one, this is one I think we had a very clear, definitive opinion on before and after the data. And the data validated exactly what we knew, which is that I think depending on where you are around the world, because the world's a big place and there's lots of deltas. But on the whole, during COVID no one had the right tools to work from home. And I too believe that it and business leaders did an incredible job, incredible job just as a community in getting people back into productivity at home during those early days of COVID and then through a two year period, we built up, I think, pretty good ways of working from home. We have two displays, we have docking stations, good keyboards, lots of great video. I'm actually working from home today. I usually work in the office three days a week, but today I was working from home because of that flexibility that we've got. And so I think we've built a pretty good, in general, at home set of tools and criteria, including cloud computing and all the ability and great unified communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams. The world has done well in getting that. Now, as we've come out of the work from home, hybrid is not work from home. I always say that. So, like, hybrid is not work from home. Now people are realizing that the office is anywhere. I call it the Anywhere office. It could be here in my home office. By the way, many people don't have that. They're competing for scarce real estate in homes like the couch or little private places. I always said during COVID the most valuable asset was Internet and peace, a place to focus. And that was the scarce real estate within the home. That's sort of gone away because kids are back at school and people but I think what the next chapter is, is now people are going back into offices and they're realizing that the tech in offices is like three or four years behind where the tech was in their homes. And so they've been asked to go back to collaborate, work together, build more trust. There's something still about the technology we have is great, but the ability to drive trust and drive relationships, you still need that face to face time, not all the time. And then people are going back to the office and they're finding that the tech is not good enough. It's four or five years old and the technology has moved on. So that's where we come in as HP, especially with the Poly acquisition. Poly is all about being seen and been heard and no thought or no voice been left behind. So that you have this meeting equity, whether people are in the office, at home, and there's great new feature sets like face framing. Like if you see modern cameras in the office, they can split multiple people with the cameras and actually face frame so that everyone is seen. If you're at the back of the room, you're not this tiny little voice or face, then no one can actually see the expressions that you have. So I think that's where we come in is with our roadmaps. We've already had those is to continue to drive meeting equity wherever people work and make sure that no voice or no idea, because a voice is really a conduit for idea is left behind. [00:26:20] Speaker A: That's great. No voice, no idea left behind. Love. It given us a lot to think about already today. Andy, any last takeaways or last thoughts to share with our listeners? [00:26:33] Speaker B: I think the first is the time to act is right now. As a leader of people or an organization or just a leader doesn't have to manage people. And I say the time to act is right now is that we do hear this new dialogue that in a down economy, the power, so to speak, shifts from employees to employers. And it's a horrible way to think about it because there's always cycles in the economy and it's not about down economies, up economies, and who has the upper hand, so to speak. So I think now is the time to look at this data, to reflect on it, and to have a dialogue across business leaders, whether it's in It or knowledge workers or at the board level, and really see what each company is doing and having a meaningful conversation in the business, with the business, with the employee base and see where you score on many of these attributes. So, yeah, my last thought is act now, take the data, have a look at it, and open the dialogue and see how this data can help you improve that relationship. [00:27:46] Speaker A: So, Andy, where can listeners get the data? [00:27:51] Speaker B: Well, it's real simple. If you just go to HP.com, it's featured on our homepage there, so they can access our website. It's fully available and downloadable for anyone to get hold of, and we will refresh that on a yearly basis. [00:28:05] Speaker A: Excellent. I'm glad to hear that we'll be able to track this over time and hopefully we'll see some improvements. [00:28:11] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:28:12] Speaker A: So with that, Andy, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for sharing with us. Really fascinating research. I appreciate you taking the time out to share with us. [00:28:23] Speaker B: My pleasure. Thanks again, Beth. [00:28:25] Speaker A: Okay. And listeners, thank you for tuning in. Please do watch this channel for our next episode and check out all of our latest content on our website at WW metric.com. And if you'd like to hear more about our employee experience research, please feel free to get in touch. Till next time, take care, everybody happy.

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