Ritika Nowlakha looks at hybrid value propositions and asks – how can you differentiate in such a crowded market?
As I planned to cook myself a meal on one of the weeknights, I stepped outside to grab a few things. Lost in my thoughts as I walked towards the store, my foot landed on a crooked paving stone, and I twisted it. As I sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor to see me, a multitude of thoughts rushed into my mind. Amongst them was: ‘How will I get to work?’
I would need to operate in a hybrid manner – work from home for some days and go into the office only when it was needed. I’m telling you this because I was fortunate – able to bend hybrid working to suit my personal circumstances. I could continue working with minimal disruption in a challenging situation.
Hybrid work has been on everyone’s lips for the past few years. It is a blend of working from home, or maybe a café, and spending time in the office. Looking at data published by Harvard Business Review, 61% of knowledge workers said they preferred hybrid working based on their ability to exercise it in a way that best fits them.
During the pandemic, many employees learned to live and work in the same place. Now they no longer want to balance their personal lives with their work lives. Instead, they want one life that blends their work, personal responsibilities and activities, the combination of which will vary on an individual basis.
However, with a growing pool of organisations offering hybrid working, it is no longer a game changer. As most organisations tell a similar story, revolving around themes of flexibility and well-being, messages lack appeal due to minimal differentiation.
Saying the same thing
Undifferentiated hybrid propositions are everywhere. Tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon promote hybrid working as a means of embracing flexibility. Deloitte cites hybrid working as a way for employees to enjoy flexibility. Legal & General tells candidates that it encourages its employees to operate in a hybrid manner so that they can ‘be at their best’. Similarly, the Bank of England promotes hybrid working saying that the well-being of their staff is important to them.
To attract candidates and to make your message stand out from others, communicate with employees in a clear and an inspirational manner addressing any employee fears. Make your propositions answer sources of employee anxiety and let the employees know the real deal.
So given all of this and assuming that hybrid working is here to stay, below are some points that could help differentiate your message about hybrid working.
- Describe a culture of trust. If you have one, talk about your high-trust environment developed through the mediums of open, transparent communication channels and proactive feedback. Such an environment allows employees to feel safe in voicing their concerns and much more at ease when they are not in office. Tell candidates about how your hybrid work policy is anchored in trust and care, with an emphasis on nurturing employee experience.
- One size doesn’t fit all. It’s no longer desirable to lead with a one-size-fits-all approach. Reassure employees that you are not looking to answer logistical questions straight away, like how many days in office per week are best. Communicate instead that you are willing to evolve by testing and learning different approaches, and happy to consider tailored work approaches that align to employee preferences.
- Show them you care about their lives. Focus on talking about how non-monetary benefits at work such as training schemes and team events can help create synergies between work and life. Work can improve life, rather than just being seen as a disturbance to it.
- Hear them. Employees want to be understood and know that they are being heard. Create a bond with employees by taking their suggestions and empathetically baking them into daily business lives.
- Explain your decisions. Be honest about what you offer and communicate the reasons behind it. Employees and potential employees like to know why and how decisions have been made. This will make them trust you more.