Our top 7 surprising insights for navigating uncertainty

Since the pandemic hit, we’ve interviewed dozens of Fortune 500 executives, conducted proprietary data analyses, and combed through academic literature for insights on how to better navigate uncertainty and set teams up for hybrid success. 

As the weather turned chillier this month, we decided to pause and look back at everything we’ve published over the past two years, with an eye for the articles that continue to resonate. Here are our top 7 insights so far:

1. The ideal number of work from home days is 1.5 

As leaders, managers, and teams navigate the transition to hybrid, the question on everyone’s mind is: what’s the ideal number of work-from-home (WFH) days per week? 

According to our proprietary research, a magic number may exist. After analyzing over a year’s worth of performance and employee engagement data in a global company’s call center, we found that when the norm was to work in-office full-time, the ability to work from home 1-2 days per week led to the highest levels of performance—and happiness. After that (i.e. when employees worked 3 or more days from home), performance first plateaued and then started to decline. 

How we found the magic number >>

2. The return to offices is a unique opportunity to re-onboard everyone

The return-to-offices will be a fresh start for many of your people. That means it’s also a once in a lifetime chance to intentionally improve your culture.

To seize this opportunity, we recommend listing the specific norms you’d like to set, and then finding small ways to reinforce them. If inclusion or innovation are important to you, make sure managers are encouraging equitable discussion in meetings, and are creating space for everyone to get a word in. Focus on quick wins that can drive immediate, noticeable improvement. You want to signal that things aren’t going to be the same as they were pre-pandemic.

More tactical tips for how to seize the return-to-office moment >>

3. Your top managers at the highest risk of quitting (but they don’t have to be) 

Over the past two years, managers have had a lot piled into their plates. They’ve been responsible for keeping teams connected, communicating policy updates, and providing emotional support. It’s no surprise that our analysis of 90,000+ employees showed that managers are currently twice as likely to be looking for new jobs as other employees. In short, they’re burnt out, and looking for a change of pace.

How to retain your top managers >>  

4. Making work better doesn’t require MORE work 

In the dynamic new world of work, leaders need a way to quickly refocus their teams and help them jump into action. That’s why we built our new Nudge Control Panel. 

In just a few clicks, you can prioritize where your teams should improve, and immediately start delivering nudges that empower everyone to start taking action right away. As progress is made or as things change, simply log in to drive action in new areas. By selecting the types of nudges you’d like your teams to receive, you can promote better ways of working, without creating extra work. Simply log in to your Humu dashboard and select the Control Panel tab to start sending relevant nudges to impacted teams.

Give teams in-the-moment support >> 

5. Managers matter more than ever

In light of high turnover, the transition to hybrid work, and continued uncertainty, managers matter more than ever. The following five behaviors are foundational to manager—and team—success in the new world of work:

  • Offer personalized growth opportunities 
  • Set clear roles and expectations
  • Trust employees a bit more than feels comfortable 
  • Make work feel meaningful
  • Bring the team together by focusing on inclusion 

Investing in these five skills is the fastest way to give employees what they really want: a great team, ways to grow, and a culture they can be proud of.

How to help managers build mission-critical habits >> 

6. To rally your people, put empathy first 

Our research shows that people are best able to adjust when personal flexibility, empathetic leadership, and emotional support are present. Especially as teams return to offices, leaders should put empathy over performance--at least for a while.

That means starting 1:1s by checking in with how the person is doing outside of their work life — and really listening to their answers. We recommend leaders look out for signs of burnout, be extra flexible about how and when work gets done, and partner with employee resource groups to understand and surface employee concerns.

More tips for leading in a hybrid world >>

7. The 
Great Resignation isn’t 
a compensation issue: 
it’s a culture issue.

In September 2021, 65% of America’s working population said they were actively job searching, a sharp increase from 36% in May. Humu’s proprietary research shows that tenured employees and managers are more likely than ever to leave their jobs. So what can leaders do to hold onto their top talent amidst the Great Resignation?

Research shows that the qualitative aspects of work matter most to employees, while employers seem to be focusing on the quantitative aspects. The highest quit rates exist among disengaged workers, regardless of pay and benefits. To better retain top talent, employers should instead invest in the 5 essential elements of strong, cohesive company cultures: Learning, Clarity, Trust, Purpose, and Inclusion. 

Explore the 5 keys to retaining top talent >>

Want to stay steady in the face of uncertainty and make your company culture stronger than ever? Request a Humu demo today. 

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