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Action Inspirations

After analyzing your Employee Experience Survey results, browse possible ways to improve people's experience at work.

This page is part of After Survey Actions.

Below is a menu of possible next steps to inspire your organization to take meaningful action after reviewing your Employee Experience Survey results. These are based on the inspirations available to you within your survey results interface on the Culture Amp platform; they are compiled into this page for convenience. The inspirations were written by Culture Amp and Leading Edge.

The list is organized by factor, based on the factors of employee experience from the Employee Experience Survey.

You may notice that some inspirations appear more than once, under different factors. This is because those action steps can help with multiple factors, and because this page is not intended to be read straight through, but rather to be browsed by factor as needed.

We want your ideas!

Do you have ideas for action inspirations that are not yet in this document? Something you have tried to improve your staff experience that has been a win? Leading Edge wants to hear them! Send us your ideas at programs@leadingedge.org.

The questions behind the factors

The action inspirations are listed by factor and not tied to specific questions. But it is questions from the Employee Experience Survey that constitute the factors. To see the survey questions that make up each factor, expand this section below:

Questions by factor

Accountability & Feedback

  • I am comfortable providing job-related feedback to my colleagues
  • I am recognized for good work at my organization
  • My manager provides me with regular feedback on my performance
  • Our performance review process helps me grow and improve
  • The feedback I receive from my manager is useful for my growth
  • We hold ourselves accountable for results — e.g., producing high-quality work, meeting deadlines and commitments

Collaboration

  • My team receives high-quality support from other parts of the organization
  • There is good collaboration between teams/departments in my organization
  • There is good collaboration within my team/department

Direct Management

  • I am appropriately involved in decisions that affect my work
  • I have clarity around what I am expected to do and by when
  • My manager is generally available to respond to my concerns
  • My manager keeps me informed
  • My manager treats me with respect

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

  • I believe my organization creates a safe and supportive environment for people from all backgrounds
  • I feel comfortable discussing my background, beliefs, and cultural experiences with my co-workers
  • I feel like I belong at my organization
  • My organization demonstrates a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (feel free to leave specific examples and suggestions in the comments)
  • My organization enables people from all backgrounds to do well
  • My organization values diversity (for purposes of answering this question diversity is defined as the representation of all varied identities and differences)

Employee Engagement

Note: It can be difficult to take action that will directly improve any of the engagement questions. For this reason, we do not have any inspirations for the engagement questions. (They are included here for reference.) If you take meaningful action in the other areas, engagement scores will often improve as a result. 

  • I feel proud to work for my organization
  • I see myself still working at my organization in two years
  • I would recommend my organization as a great place to work
  • My organization helps me stay motivated to do my best work

Employee Enablement

  • I believe my workload is reasonable for my role
  • I have access to the information that I need to do my job effectively
  • I have the resources that I need to do my job effectively
  • Most days I feel that I am making progress with my work
  • Our systems and processes generally support us in getting our work done effectively (feel free to leave specific examples and suggestions in the comments)
  • There are enough people to do the work we need to do
  • Workloads are divided fairly within my team/department

Learning & Advancement

  • I have opportunities for advancement at my organization
  • I have opportunities to develop new skills at my organization
  • My manager helps me gain skills and knowledge that support my growth
  • My organization provides me with sufficient opportunities for professional development — e.g., training, conferences, community of practice, etc.
  • My role provides me with opportunities to do challenging and interesting work

Organizational Alignment

  • At my organization there is open and honest two-way communication
  • I feel like I am making a difference through my work
  • I have a good understanding of my organization‘s mission, strategy, and goals
  • I know how my work contributes to my organization’s mission, strategy, and goals
  • My organization is generally successful in the pursuit of its mission
  • My organization provides high-quality programs and services to our constituents

Organizational Policies

  • I am confident that my organization will take appropriate action if discrimination is reported
  • I am confident that my organization will take appropriate action if sexual harassment is reported

Psychological Safety

  • I feel comfortable speaking up if my values were/are ever compromised
  • I'm comfortable sharing potentially unpopular opinions about how to do our work
  • It is safe to take risks on my team — e.g., try new things, share new or different perspectives, ask tough questions, etc.
  • When I offer my opinion, I feel that it is heard and respected

Professional Leadership

  • I am kept appropriately informed about major decisions and events happening at my organization
  • I believe leaders will support the organization in taking action as a result of this survey
  • I have confidence in our leaders to lead the organization effectively
  • Our leaders generally communicate openly and honestly with employees
  • The leadership team's actions are consistent with my organization's values

Salary & Benefits

  • I believe my salary is fair relative to similar roles at my organization
  • I understand how salaries and raises are determined at my organization
  • My employee benefits generally meet my needs
  • My organization has worked or is actively working on our approach to compensation – e.g., creating salary bands, communicating an approach to compensation, defining how raises happen, etc.

The Board

  • I feel respected as a professional by board members at my organization
  • At my organization, board members and professional leaders work together effectively

Well-being

  • I believe employee well-being is a priority at my organization
  • I have colleagues who I can turn to for support
  • I have enough opportunities to disconnect from work
  • My manager genuinely cares about my well-being – e.g., my satisfaction, workload, and overall health
  • My organization demonstrates care and concern for its employees

Action Inspirations by Factor

Accountability & Feedback
  • Feedback Culture. To create a culture where people are comfortable with receiving and giving feedback will take some time. When conversations/meetings end, add a practice of asking and giving feedback on what happened during the conversation/meeting.
  • Feedback Training. Consider running an all staff training on some techniques and tools to help your team get comfortable with giving and receiving feedback. Be sure to focus on having difficult conversations and the power dynamics (level of role, identity) that are important to be cognizant of in delivering feedback. 
  • Employee of the month. Nominate an employee each month. One organization’s engagement committee created a voting process where anyone in the organization can nominate a colleague for an employee of the month award. The leadership team then selects a winner from the nominees.
  • Peer nominations for awards. On a quarterly or annual basis, recognize your people for a job well done. Prior to the event/meeting (whichever forum you use), the award categories are announced and employees are asked to send in nominations. Nominations are compiled and the leadership makes a final decision.
  • Peer recognition. Recognize employees using internal communication channels. For example, a “Shoutout” channel on internal office communication software, or an email shoutout to the whole team or the person and their supervisor that provides a quick thank you and recognition of a job well done.
  • Personalized recognition. Get to know how each employee prefers to receive recognition during their onboarding process, and then document and store these preferences for when an employee is to be recognized. Consider setting up a “rewards committee” made up of employees across functions to evaluate rewards. Consider donating to an employee's selected social cause, or providing work time to give back to the community, and even (extra) work time for personal development.
  • Rapid feedback session. Provide employees with an opportunity to give each other feedback quickly. One organization uses rapid feedback sessions. In a rapid feedback session each individual writes their name on a piece of paper and tapes it to the wall. Then, all employees walk around with post-its writing down what they most admire about that person and stick it to that individual’s paper. Employees feel appreciated and the feedback can give insight into what the employee should continue doing to best support their coworkers.
  • Team-level awards. Encourage teamwork by recognizing team effort above individual effort. One organization awards teams that surpass objectives, or come up with the most creative solution to difficult problems. The awards are presented in public forums and are associated with a clear description of what the team achieved and how they worked together to achieve it. Recognizing the team as a whole incentivizes collaboration and effective teamwork.
  • Thank you round. Give employees a chance to recognize others in a simple and public way. End each meeting with a lightning thank you round. It's a quick and easy way to thank individuals for their great work while also celebrating successes.
  • Wall of compliments. Build a wall of compliments in the center of your workspace. Use the wall as an opportunity to give kudos to a colleague for work well done, and to open up the room to also include constructive feedback. To ensure a nurturing atmosphere, one organization encourages giving positive praise in public, while reserving negative yet constructive feedback for a private conversation. You can institute this virtually, as well - many companies have “praise” channels for celebrating and sharing good news via Slack. 
  • More frequent feedback. Increase the cadence of feedback for employees. One organization has decided to abandon performance ratings. They have created a more frequent and feedback-focused performance management process. Every quarter, every employee sits down with their manager to give and receive feedback and discuss goals from the quarter prior and upcoming quarter. They can also discuss career pathing.
  • Better one-on-one meetings. Embedding a consistent practice of one-on-one meetings throughout an organization is a key component of performance management. At one organization, managers and individual contributors are trained on how to run effective one-on-one meetings. This organization formed a team to help develop new content to help managers in their one-on-one meetings, including: what makes a great one-on-one meeting, what types of conversations to have, a manager checklist, dos and don’ts, and a bank of questions to use to stimulate the right conversations. Geographically dispersed organizations may want to ensure there are one-on-one meeting champions in each location to assist managers with new training and tools. Executives should also be encouraged to role-model effective one-on-one practices.
  • Clear expectations in goal setting. Empower your managers with tools and techniques to help them set goals with their teams. The most important part of accountability is to have a clear understanding of how the goals will be measured and tracked.
  • Holding People Accountable with clarity.  In order to hold people accountable, everyone involved must be on the same page about expectations. Everyone should have a very clear understanding of Who Will Do What By When (WWDWBW). Managers should track progress against those expectations at a regular interval to ensure appropriate and timely progress.
  • Never ask “Why.” Train managers to hold people accountable by having them never ask “why” something didn’t get done, but rather:
    ○ What’s your next step towards getting it done?
    ○ By when will you do that?
    ○ Can I count on you to get that done?
    ○ What obstacles are in your way? Let’s address them right now.

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Collaboration
  • Collaborate by example. Ensure that leaders are demonstrating collaborative behaviors among themselves and encouraging collaboration within the organization. This may look like regular leadership meetings to share updates and explicitly discuss opportunities for greater collaboration across the organization. It might also look like two departments/teams meeting to discuss ways to actively support each other. It could also mean that leaders fill in for each other when one is out to demonstrate that they know about multiple components of the organizations and can step in for each other as needed.
  • “Shark Tank”-style competition. Encourage employees to pitch ideas to executives in a “Shark Tank”-style competition. At one organization cross-functional teams were formed to build ideas to pitch to the “Sharks” — a collection of senior leaders. This program encouraged cross-functional collaboration, healthy competition and recognition of great ideas. Once an idea was selected, resources were made available to implement.
  • Swap worst tasks. Swap least favorite tasks amongst members of your team to see if each person’s approach can be improved. Test this for one week of being in someone else’s shoes and creating empathy towards their approach to their work. The goal is for each person to identify a better way of getting the task done by the end of the week. People get better visibility into the not-so-pleasant parts of each role. Additionally, fresh eyes can often lead to new ideas. 
    ○ Get each person to write their least favorite task on a piece of paper.
    ○ Place them in a container and people then select a random task from one another.
    ○ Allow one hour for handover of that task.
    ○ Perform that task for the other person for one week.
    ○ At the end of the week, reconvene to share answers to suggest a better way to perform the task and what you learned about their role and responsibilities.
  • Best not besting. Make sure members know that they’ve been put on the team not to show what they can do personally, but rather to assist in making the team successful. Identify each person’s strengths from the standpoint of how those strengths will blend with others to help the team achieve its desired outcomes.
  • Focus on team goals. Keep the team’s goals center stage. One organization has conversations at team check-ins to demonstrate how each person’s “to dos” contribute to the team’s mission. This encourages team members to be more cooperative as individuals in order to be more competitive as a team.
  • Look beyond the team. Encourage team members to find ways of cooperating with other departments and outside agencies in order to discover new perspectives and new ways of doing things. One organization encourages team members to meet over coffee with a person from another department or agency to discuss work/team challenges “chevruta-style”. (Chevruta is a traditional Jewish form of paired learning in which the two co-learners teach and challenge each other.)
  • Meeting Manifesto. Improve meeting effectiveness using clear guidelines. One organization developed a meeting manifesto which outlines what a quality meeting looks like and keeps the end goal and objective of the meeting in mind. For each meeting, the meeting owner is challenged to identify the purpose, key decision makers and clearly state why each person has been invited.
  • Reward cooperation. Celebrate as a group when the team defeats its “opponent” (such as solving a key problem) and recognize individual contributions toward that victory. One organization gives team leaders a small budget to treat their team. Team leaders can spend the money on an ice-cream party, a lunch, etc.
  • Social time. Have the team leader plan a social event for the team in an informal setting. One organization encouraged a team lunch or a fun outing during the work day. Be careful, however, to not intrude upon personal time and especially avoid taking team members away from their families and loved ones.

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Direct Management
  • Accurately consulted decisions: Consult others in your decision-making framework, to facilitate transparency and clarity. Share who has been consulted on a decision whenever a decision is shared. By highlighting the names of people who were consulted, reviewers of the decision can quickly identify the basis for the decision. It is not to demonstrate consensus, but to show that decision-makers considered other perspectives and implications.
    ○ Map out the stakeholders you need to consult in a decision. 
    ○ Add in columns next to their responses e.g. for/ against/ indifferent/ comments/ theme.
    ○ Start to track over time.
  • Empathetic decision-making: Empathetic decision making includes others when decisions and authority change. As companies grow, the process and structure around decision making changes. As a result, an individual who used to make a decision may not be the right person to make the same decision anymore. While it feels as though people are being excluded from decisions that affect them, empathetic leaders are clear about how decision making is changing and can address that decision making should not be made by consensus. Be clear about how decisions are made, when that needs to change and why. Ways to introduce changes in decision making in an empathetic manner include:
    ○ When a new person starts/moves role, let the team know their decision making responsibilities in the future along with their role responsibilities.
    ○ Let the team know who used to make this decision and why it's changing.
    ○ Ensure that prior conversations are had with individuals before team announcements so they understand and are on board with the changes.
  • Expert stakeholder advice. When an important decision is being made, assign a specific area for consideration to each expert stakeholder. Each stakeholder provides their expertise on a single aspect. This way, each aspect of the decision has carefully considered expertise and each stakeholder helps form the opinions that lead to the decision. Once you understand how many points of view are to be presented, ensure that you allow equal time to each stakeholder perspective before making a decision. Bias can occur when more time is spent discussing a particular option, or when one person is given more time than others to share their opinion. Decisions will be perceived as fairer if equal time is given to discuss each point of view. Share with the team the decision to be made, the desired outcome and how you're allocating their specific area to consider. Then reconvene to:
    ○ Share the purpose of the meeting.
    ○ Agree the desired outcome to be reached.
    ○ Allocate equal time for each person to debrief their point of view (e.g. 5-15 mins).
    ○ Time keep/document the key points or summary.
    ○ Have the team agree to consolidate key points for consideration.
    ○ Agree on the decision and next actions to take.
  • Outline decision criteria first and share this with your team. Decide on the criteria you’ll use to make a decision before you start the decision-making process. This will reduce the likelihood of bias forming. You might write down what requirements the decision should serve, if any are a priority over others, or what perspectives are needed to make the decision. This can prevent people doing what they’ve always done and prevent the criteria from shifting during the decision making process. This is a useful tool to apply to hiring decisions.
  • Internal channels to affect decisions. Use internal communication channels to align on team decisions. Slack uses internal collaboration tools (e.g., polls) to help team members feel more involved in outcomes. All key decisions are shared and debated in the relevant channels, ensuring that team members can share the impact on their day-to-day work. It's best to not make it mandatory for all team members to join in. Allow them to opt-in on a decision-by-decision basis. This gives individuals ownership on what types of decisions will have the most impact for them.
  • Create opportunities for leaders at all levels to offer input. Creating and investing in leader network hubs allows middle managers to feel involved and have input into key decisions. One large organization implemented informal meetings where executives would meet with a cross section of leaders from across the organization, to share decisions that required their input. It was developed to enhance collaboration and information sharing and to be an opportunity to collaborate, hear the impact of decisions on the day-to-day work, and for leaders to contribute their input into the decisions being made in the organization.
  • Introverts and Extroverts. Adjust your leadership style to include diverse communication preferences, e.g., introversion to extroversion and challenger to passive. All team members will have a preference for how they participate in decision-making, idea generation and general updates. As a manager, try to create an inclusive culture that allows people to contribute to discussions in a way that is most comfortable and effective for them, yet efficient for the team.The less dominant communication styles will often be unintentionally excluded from key discussions or decisions when they do not possess the dominant communication style. This can also be evidenced in reverse, where some organizations revert to silos and not sharing or collaborating, because the bulk of people prefer to work in silence and alone. To be inclusive of all communication styles:
    ○ Utilize multiple different communication channels; some people are more comfortable providing inputs via email or direct phone call rather than in a team meeting.
    ○ Actively engage in perspective taking by suspending judgment, checking your understanding, and listening deeply before making decisions.
    ○ In team meetings, send out the agenda ahead of time so team members can reflect and collect their thoughts rather than being put on the spot.
    ○ Actively mediate during team meetings and respectfully invite quieter members into the discussion.
  • Clear expectations in goal setting. Empower your managers with tools and techniques to help them set goals with their teams. The most important part of accountability is to have a clear understanding of how the goals will be measured and tracked.
  • Holding People Accountable --WWDWBW.  In order to hold people accountable, everyone involved must be on the same page about expectations. Everyone should have a very clear understanding of Who Will Do What By When (WWDWBW). Managers should track progress against those expectations at a regular interval to ensure appropriate and timely progress.
  • Regular progress checks.  A consistent and clear performance review cycle enables employees to get routine feedback and for supervisors to seek feedback on how well they are doing in providing clear expectations, as well.   Some organizations regularly share each employee’s top priorities so everyone understands what employees are working on and there is clarity at all levels on the expectations of the work staff is aiming to deliver. 
  • Be present. Train managers in active listening. One organization ensures that managers are actively present in their conversations with subordinates by providing active listening training. Managers are urged to put everything down, turn off their monitor, and step away from anything which may take their attention away from the conversation with their subordinate.
  • Better one-on-one meetings: Embedding a consistent practice of one-on-one meetings throughout an organization is a key component of performance management. At one organization, managers and individual contributors are trained on how to run effective one-on-one meetings. This organization formed a team to help develop new content to help managers in their one-on-one meetings, including: what makes a great one-on-one meeting, what types of conversations to have, a manager checklist, dos and don'ts, and a bank of questions to use to stimulate the right conversations. Executives should also be encouraged to role-model effective one-on-one practices.
  • Establish an If-Then information sharing rule. It’s hard to remember when you should update your team and which information to share, having a process pre-prepared will make it easier to manage. Create a simple “if-then” rule for yourself so you know when and how to share important information with your team. Come up with a trigger that reminds you to take action and what that simple action is to take. E.g., if I'm invited to a cross-departmental meeting, then I will block 30 minutes on my calendar to email a summary of key points to my team or if my manager shares news with me about company strategy, then I will immediately add it to our team meeting agenda.
  • Mix it up. Use a mix of communication methods to communicate with your team. To improve real-time communication, managers can design their own communications approach to include both formal and informal, online and in-person meetings. Often, managers overly rely on email communications to pass along information, but this approach makes it difficult for employees to ask questions and get answers in real time. Now, managers can experiment with different mediums that work best for their team e.g. messaging (e.g. Slack) for requests, email for external communications, and in person (where possible) for new team introductions and team changes followed up with an email and message.
  • Start a team newsletter. Share relevant team updates each month via a newsletter. Keep it short, relevant, and fun. Share news and updates on organization and team strategy, goals, changes and important projects. Include photos and videos to keep it fresh. Use email or a two-way communication platform (e.g. Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Honey.is). If possible, rotate which team member produces the newsletter each month.
  • The 4Ds. The 4Ds approach helps Managers compile and communicate the most important information accurately. Often managers just share a decision that’s been made after the fact without the context; this ensures that the entire team understand the “why” behind a decision and also how it impacts their future work. The 4Ds stand for:
    Decisions made at leadership meetings.
    Debates raised in project teams for context.
    Direction on the goals and aspirations the organization is driving toward.
    Disclosing what information the Manager does not know yet (but will find out and share soon).
  • Team huddle. Hold quick daily sync-up meetings to ensure alignment of the team. The purpose of the huddles is not to solve problems or find solutions, but for the team to pass along and share information in a quick and digestible format that helps each individual complete their tasks for the day.
  • Throw things at me. Create open forums for managers to answer questions. Managers can hold monthly “throw things at me” meetings with their team where people ask questions about recent decisions, projects and policies. You might also invite a senior leader or key collaborator from a different part of the organization to attend, depending on the theme being covered that month.
  • Authentic thank you: Make it a habit to acknowledge team members' efforts. One organization teaches managers to start project meetings with an acknowledgement and a thank you for things that went well. They make sure the thank you is authentic by being specific about how the contributions made a difference to the outcome.

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging
  • Report On Team Diversity. Report accurately on the diversity of teams, including and beyond race and gender. You can show that team diversity is important by reporting at team level. In smaller groups, you can expect more natural variation. Consider also what makes teams diverse beyond people’s race and gender (for example, how many are career changers? How many are parents? Sexuality? Veteran Status, etc.) Distribute guidance on how to have conversations about team-level diversity. If successful changes occur based on discussion, make sure they are shared.
  • Unconscious bias training: Address bias in the workplace by training individuals to become more aware of their subconscious biases. One organization has its workforce participate in unconscious bias training to become aware of how stereotypes affect behavior. All managers are required to go through the training. As part of the training, everyone has breakout discussions to talk about what they have learned about unconscious biases and how they might impact their workplace, employees and candidates.
  • Inclusivity check for tools and systems: Ensure that internal tools and systems are designed to support everyone equitably. One organization set up a team to evaluate their internal systems to ensure that their tools and processes were fair and accessible to everyone. Their compensation and promotion systems have been configured to show pay differences and promotion density by ethnicity, gender and other demographics. They check all of their tools, systems, and internal processes regularly to make sure everyone is included.
  • Use universal storytelling to bond. Create opportunities for team members to share stories about themselves and their work experiences to build understanding at a deeper level. By applying the concept of universal storytelling, you can build an approach that doesn't deny differences and celebrates similarities to bring people together in a shared experience that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Research has shown that this form of sharing creates social bonds and a feeling of belonging. Ask each person to reflect on and write down answers to the below questions:
    ○ What are three principles your family taught you?
    ○ What three things did you learn from school (any level)?
    ○ Name three defining moments of your career? What have you learned from these?
    ○ What are three mistakes you've made at work so far? What have you learned from
    these?
    ○ If you could liken your career to a story, what tale would it be?
    Ask the team to share and review areas together where they have had similar experiences and where they have had different experiences. Ask each person to share which part of someone else's story impacted them the most and why.
  • Co-worker speed lunches. Intentionally spend time with colleagues you might not otherwise chat with. Getting to know others on a personal and professional level will build better bonds, help develop deeper empathy for other people's roles and responsibilities, and understand how the organization's operations and networks fit together.
  • Create a sense of belonging. People who feel they belong within a team perform better.  Building a space where people feel they can bring their authentic selves to work is key to creating better outcomes for culture and work outcomes.   
    ○ Consult data from your Employee Experience Survey, Pulse Surveys, or other data sources, to gain insights into who does and doesn’t feel they belong and why.
    ○ Create social bonds through team structure, e.g. working with other teams, access to remote workers, and an environment that encourages connection. 
    ○ Ensure opportunities for trusted relationships, beyond a direct manager; look at mentorship and pairing people to connect. 
    ○ Be intentional about inclusion—e.g., circulate and ask for feedback on a document before meetings. Consider whose voices are missing as you craft work and decisions and how you can better reflect the diversity of your organization in its outputs.  
    ○ Share stories on how we are or aren't living out our values, offer assistance to those who need guidance.
    ○ Share purpose, values and goals—regularly track performance, share stories and give updates.
  • Emotion-focused training. Train on more than just skills to help employees become more self aware. One organization sends their emerging leaders to manager essentials training that focuses on helping people with high potential to become more emotionally intelligent. This training, which focuses on developing self-awareness and empathy, enables managers to build stronger relationships with their direct reports. To apply this to smaller groups or teams, you could have your entire team have emotional intelligence training. It does not have to be just the leader that does the training. A low-cost option would be to have your team members read a recognized book on the topic (e.g., Dan Goleman's Emotional Intelligence) and discuss learnings and takeaways as a team.
  • Focus on “culture add” when hiring. To build a diverse team, change language from “culture fit” to “culture add” when hiring. Focus your attention on what a candidate adds to the culture of the team. Looking for a candidate with “culture fit” introduces ambiguity into the recruiting process because it can signal that you are seeking traits and backgrounds that fit into an existing culture, rather than someone who will add to the culture. This makes it more likely that underrepresentation will be perpetuated.
  • Bias in referral programs. Employee referral policies can exacerbate gender and racial gaps in hiring by drawing from current employees’ friendship and social networks. Research has shown employee referral recommendations are typically same gender and same race/ethnicity, reproducing the demographics of current employees. Think about ways to encourage referrals from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. Ask your teams to nominate people from their networks as a referral, from a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and look to ensure that the evaluation process isn’t biased in seeking like-minded people specifically. In your applicant tracking system, pull the demographic data of all hires made from referrals—this data will show the impact that your referrals have had on the diversity of your organization.
  • Empower Hiring Teams. Allow each team to decide how to add diversity to their team. 
    ○ When building a job description for a new role, have all team members consider what skills their existing team lacks and make sure those criteria are added to the job description, or responsibilities are shifted to include upskilling others. 
    ○ When evaluating candidates, have existing team members consider diversity in their evaluation criteria. This ensures that you’re not just hiring like-minded, like-skilled team members but considering all areas of diversity and skill sets to broaden the team capabilities. 
    ○ You could assign someone to the role of “diversity monitor,” who leads the team’s effort to diversify and identify where the team lacks diversity and where it could benefit from it.
  • Inclusive hiring process. Support diverse hiring by building an inclusive process. Ensure that bias is mitigated throughout the application process and interview experience to give all talent an equal opportunity to showcase their skills. Acknowledge that recruiting processes may exhibit biases of the team; taking extra steps to address sexism, racism and ableism can lead to better outcomes for underrepresented talent.
  • Lead with authenticity. Support new leaders with training focused on leveraging their strengths. One organization has introduced a series of coaching sessions for new managers to discover and design their unique, personal style of leading teams. The definition of an individual's style combines the aspirations and attributes of individual managers with the values and desired behaviors of the organization.
  • Explore “thinking hats” for diversity of approach. Edward DeBono developed the “six thinking hats” system. It's a methodology for team members to think differently from how they're used to. Have the team separate thinking into six distinct categories when approaching a task. Each category is identified with its own colored metaphorical ”thinking hat”. Teams can learn the hats, identify who on the team typically wears each hat, and practice having team members work on problems wearing a different hat than they’re used to. The six “thinking hats” are:
    ○ White Hat: calls for information known or needed. The facts, just the facts.
    ○ Red Hat: signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.
    ○ Black Hat: judgment—playing devil's advocate or identifying why something may not work. Probably the most powerful and useful of the hats, but a problem if overused.
    ○ Yellow Hat: symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.
    ○ Green Hat: focuses on creativity—the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas. It's an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.
    ○ Blue Hat: used to manage the thinking process. It's the control mechanism that ensures all six hats/guidelines are observed.
  • Define diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Start with basics. Consider what the words actually mean within your organization. Sometimes organizations with the best of intentions indicate that they value efforts related to diversity and inclusion without fully understanding what is meant by this. Taking some time to get clear on the words, their meaning, and how they relate can help you to advance these conversations within your organization.
  • Write a DEIB statement. Change will have a better chance of being effective when the CEO and leadership team are behind it. Commit to these four areas: 
    ○ Assess DEIB in your organization, using a measurement tool, to understand where change needs to happen and track progress via feedback from your people.
    ○ Build a trusting workplace that commits to difficult conversations around DEI.B
    ○ Implement ongoing unconscious bias training.
    ○ Share both best practices and what doesn't work in your workplace with your team (and externally).
  • Support external inclusion events. Demonstrate support for diversity and inclusion initiatives through sponsorship. You might provide sponsorship funding, a space to host the event, staff volunteers or speak at the event. For example, for charities and organizations that your team say matter in their community.
  • Share DEIB initiatives on your website. Make your commitment to diversity and inclusion public no matter your size. Start by including a section on your website, outlining what you’re doing to create and nurture a diverse and inclusive workforce — ensure you update it regularly to demonstrate the progress made by your organization. Holding accountability publicly will ensure that this is driven as a priority within the organization as it grows. It also lets external and internal stakeholders be aware of your commitments and actions toward equality for all. You could include a short statement on your home page or in your email signatures, as the organization grows you can expand with more resources. Here are some thought starters to write your own:
    ○ Have a clear point of view of what DEIB means to your organization, and why.
    ○ Have a clear commitment of what you are setting out to achieve.
    ○ Include initiatives you have started.
    ○ Include the data and results achieved so far, and what you'll continue to measure into the future.
    ○ Tell your stories, e.g., from employees in a blog.
    ○ Review and update this annually.
  • Share DEIB victories and learnings. Share stories about your diversity and inclusion initiatives across the organization and externally, and what did or didn't work. Be transparent about progress, victories and learnings, both good and bad, so other organizations can learn from your experience and engage in the discussion. Being transparent on how you approach DEI can have beneficial effects globally to lift the game within the business, government and social contexts.
  • Code of conduct refresh. Have your team contribute and update your Code of Conduct and other organization-wide policies to ensure considerations around diversity and inclusion are addressed. Often policies aren't written using inclusive language, and the norms of an organization isolate a particular group. For example, is parental leave termed as such, and importantly, is it assumed this is for women only or for all new parents?
  • Define belonging for your organization with “empathy interviews.” Conduct empathy interviews to explore people’s experiences of inclusion in your organization and team. Define the key behaviors and attributes of an inclusive culture with examples to share with other people to help drive inclusive behaviors and help people understand the instances where they could be exclusive. Share the stories unearthed to help new starters understand how inclusion works in the organization. Use an empathy interview guide to set up the structure, recruit the right people to meet with, and determine how to use the findings from the sessions.
    ○ Empathy interviews are about having authentic conversation with the interviewee.
    ○ Empathy interviews allow you to understand emotions, motivation and choices the user makes. These in turn allow you to become familiar with their needs and design to satisfy them.
    ○ Always ask “why?” Even when you think you know the answer you may be surprised by a completely different answer that reveals aspects you may not have considered. These could, in turn, lead you to solutions you did not anticipate.
  • Hey team. Encourage gender-inclusive language, starting with removing “Hey guys” from the team vernacular. Using non-gendered terms helps shift the balance. Use an alternative like “everyone,” “y'all,” “folks,” “friends,” or “team.”
  • Pronouns and names. Create pronoun and preferred name fields (in addition to legal name whenever necessary) for all communication channels for your employees. This ensures that everyone, including cisgender people, can share the pronouns they want to be associated with, which naturalizes the process. Provide templates, including: 
    ○ Email signatures
    ○ Slack or other messaging channels
    ○ People directories
    ○ Employee and candidate forms.
  • Feature role models. Feature a mix of employees and constituents/beneficiaries/community members that accurately represent the diversity of your community in marketing, social media, and careers pages. Make it clear that people from underrepresented groups belong in your workplace. Subconsciously or consciously, images tell candidates from underrepresented backgrounds that your company is somewhere they could see themselves, increasing the likelihood that they'll enter the first phase of the recruitment funnel. Conduct an audit on the imagery used in all external (and internal) communications on what it's like to work with your organization.
  • Create shared music playlists. Identify playful and informal ways to connect people, like creating a shared music playlist, having a list of favorite team lunch spots, or a ritual of Friday morning dance-at-your desks, to create a sense of team belonging. A culture of belonging can be driven from the ground up, through playful and simple acts of inclusion, and rotating these amongst different tastes and preferences.
  • Combat loneliness. When we don’t feel like we belong within an organization, we can end up feeling lonely. Feeling lonely at work impacts a person's whole sense of being and people with marginalized identities are often the most likely to feel lonely. When employees feel connection with others, they are less likely to feel lonely and are more likely to be happier, healthier, and more impactful in their roles. Whenever you make introductions, share a bit more than each person’s name and job title. Develop a few go-to questions to use so that people can introduce themselves in a more human and holistic way. More human introductions can act as an icebreaker for new relationships and can also create more opportunities for people to connect through shared stories.

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Employee Enablement
  • No meeting Wednesdays: Provide employees with the time to focus on execution. One organization uses "No Meeting Wednesdays" to make sure employees have the time to focus on getting things done. The organization acknowledges that managers spend most of their time in meetings, while other employees, that they called "makers," need uninterrupted time to make.
  • Email response policies. Provide clear expectations on when work activity is appropriate after standard work hours. 
    ○ Instead of instituting a ban on emails after work hours, one organization developed clear policies around when someone is expected to respond to an email (or other communication). 
    ○ Having policies about response expectations ensures everyone is on the same page. It also doesn't inhibit employees from sending ideas outside of normal hours—there is just no expectation that a response will occur until the following work day. 
    ○ Within your team, determine what the current norms are for sending and receiving emails and messages. Discuss what hours employees would like to be “no response required” times.
  • Support requests in meetings. Give employees an easy way to highlight a need for support. One team has a space in their meeting notes for individuals to request support. Support includes sharing workload, sharing expertise, or simply making internal referrals. Not only does this help employees manage their workload, it also increases visibility on what team members are focused on.
  • Time audit. Ask teams to audit their time. One organization heard from managers that their teams felt overbooked. They asked everyone to write out exactly what they did and for how long for two weeks in order to assess, reprioritize and help shift things around to help make workloads more manageable.
  • Help your team get comfortable with “no.” Make it easier for team members to say no to requests by introducing and normalizing a practice of saying no and stating what one can offer instead. Getting comfortable with saying no is a common challenge for many. However, it’s also an important part of maintaining boundaries around energy, workload, and priorities. Focusing on what you can offer instead of yes can soften the blow of saying no.
  • Schedule the send. We often think to ourselves, “Just because I'm sending this message late doesn't mean you have to respond.” But despite our best intentions, others often see that email or Slack message and have a hard time ignoring it. This is especially true if you're a mentor, team lead, or senior leader sending messages to your team. So use a scheduling assistant to set the time. Gmail, Slack, and many other email and messaging systems have “schedule send” features.
  • Weekly team workload check-in. To manage workloads effectively, consistently check in with the team about timelines and progress. Having a dedicated time to track proposed hours/deadline vs. real time hours spent/progress towards a deadline will be useful. This could include a 30-minute planning session at the beginning of the week and a 30-minute check in session at the end of the week. 
    ○ Having the team agree about what can be achieved in smaller weekly milestones will help to set focus and expectations on workload.
    ○ Often team members are not aware of each other's workloads, making it hard to know who needs help and how to help them. 
    ○ Ask for any “red flags” at the weekly team workload check-in. These can be waved (metaphorically) if someone is feeling overwhelmed on a deadline or needs support. These can also be used at other times throughout the week, when a team member feels they need to elevate a conversation around pressure to deliver. Making this a general, named practice can help create a safe and open environment to register workload concerns.
  • Overtime policy. As there are varied reasons for people working overtime hours, it's helpful for all to share an organization policy and approach to overtime hours. This can include whether overtime is considered paid or part of a salary, if time off in return is given, what is reasonable overtime hours for a role, what makes up exceptional circumstances (for example, a crisis, colleague who is sick suddenly), and making sure that teams are aware of how their resources match the headcount. While prolonged overtime for any individual or team is not ideal for their wellbeing, often people may want to volunteer to do extra hours if it's paid, use it for growth into a stretch task and may enjoy their role and want to immerse themselves in a specific project.
  • Hold employee skills-sharing sessions. One organization has created a program for employees to present and teach skills to interested employees in other departments. These sessions are optional and recorded to create a comprehensive library of past skills sessions that can be accessed by all employees for viewing at any time. This leverages the skills that are already present within the organization.
  • Peer mentorship program. Create a mentoring program where team members are connected with other employees in the organization who have different experiences. Create a list of transferable skills you'd like to make accessible across the team—e.g., resilience, Excel hacks, difficult conversations, presenting skills, specific program skills, understanding the community better, etc. Peer mentor programs can inspire both the mentor and the mentee with new ideas and can encourage new, collaborative ways of working. They can also break down silos across departments/ teams.
  • Leverage a micro-learning strategy. Empower your employees with “bite-sized” learning opportunities. Delivering just the right amount of information can help a learner achieve a specific goal in real-time.
    ○ Mirror the way we gather knowledge outside work. Deploy short courses that learners can easily search through to find the most relevant topic, watch a quick video, and resume their work, all in a matter of minutes.
    ○ Share short courses that are in the 3- to 8-minute range and focused on a single topic.
    ○ Make the material easy to remember and apply on the job. Encourage the team to integrate what they learn immediately into workflows and apply it to a project.
  • Mixed mode training. Create custom training modules to fit the unique needs and interests of different employee groups. To provide more customized training, many organizations are transitioning from 100% face-to-face training to a mix of face-to-face and video learning. This can be applied in processes like onboarding. Follow-up Pulse Surveys can measure the perceived impact of the training program on employee experience and connection to the organization's culture.
  • Decision making due dates. Make decisions more efficiently. One organization has due dates for all major decisions which they map out at the beginning of each quarter as part of their objectives and key results (OKR) process. The due date forces more efficient decision-making and less reliance on consensus. To facilitate transparency and close the loop on deadlines being met, decisions are posted publicly.
  • Information flows exercise. The information flows exercise focuses on identifying blockers. One organization's teams get together regularly and look at their daily operations and opportunities for greater efficiency. They identify specific information blockers in the process. The team first asks, "When was our own team the blocker for another team, whether it was information withheld or taking too long to complete a task?" Then, they discuss when their own team was blocked and how they can ask others to do things differently to prevent it from happening. Summaries from these meetings are shared internally and teams come together to design solutions.
  • Organizational table of contents. Create a living Organizational Table of Contents outlining where each department stores their work and where to find particular projects. Each entry has a link to the document so the information is easily accessible to everyone.
  • Create project FAQs. Answer and archive cross-department FAQs about particular projects by creating and updating FAQs for each team and project. This forms a great database for new and existing employees as the collected institutional memory/intelligence for the organization.
  • Document storage standards. Set team standards for document storage. This cuts down the time spent searching for documents each time you need them in multiple places. Decide as an organization (or team) norms for where and how information will be stored. For example, you might decide that documents that are still being worked on always have “WIP” in the title and are stored on a collaborative tool, or a notation of the owner of the document and dated as when it was last updated. Try setting aside time either daily, weekly or monthly to put your documents on shared servers or in your files.
  • Process hackathon. Bring together diverse perspectives to improve organizational processes. One organization holds an annual hackathon to improve processes. Each department chooses their least-favorite process (large departments can choose more than one). Cross-functional teams are formed with people from different departments and each team discusses how to improve one process. In addition to helping to improve efficiency, this also leads to greater empathy with colleagues.
  • Inclusivity check for tools and systems: Ensure that internal tools and systems are designed to support everyone equitably. One organization set up a team to evaluate their internal systems to ensure that their tools and processes were fair and accessible to everyone. Their compensation and promotion systems have been configured to show pay differences and promotion density by ethnicity, gender and other demographics. They check all of their tools, systems, and internal processes regularly to make sure everyone is included.
  • Internal tools team. Establish an internal tools team to evaluate and acquire tools. This approach can help improve processes and purchases of software to reduce manual labor, facilitate employee and organizational growth, and reduce employee burnout. Put together a team with employees from different backgrounds. Have them make a list of all the tools the organization is currently using and evaluate the performance of each. Some questions to consider are:
    ○ Are our tools performing the way they should?
    ○ Does it make things easier for our employees?
    ○ Are there gaps? Are there processes that require tools we currently don’t have?
    ○ Are there tools we need to get rid of or upgrade?
    The team then holds quarterly meetings to discuss progress and continue evaluating the tools, and subsequently makes changes to increase efficiency.
  • What's in the toolshed? Take inventory of the tools and resources people use to identify those that are most valuable using a simple rating tool. Ratings are an easy way to get insight into how your employees rate your current processes. It’ll help you make decisions on whether the processes are efficient or not. Based on the ratings, decide which tools to start, stop and continue using.
  • Swimlane planning. Share how internal processes are working (or not working) and collaborate on improvements by using swimlane diagrams. This method ensures that the organization as a whole takes a closer look at all the internal processes, and that all employees have a say in the matter so they can get their work done more efficiently. 
    ○ Map out your most common processes in swimlane diagrams.
    ○ Take care to map processes that have previously not worked well.
    ○ With the diagram as a guide, discuss them in all-hands meetings and other organization-wide forums so that all employees can provide input into ways to improve.
  • Work cycle audit. Take a look at your annual work cycle. One organization took stock of all departmental work cycles to determine times when additional support was needed and when cross-departmental collaboration could provide the necessary support. They hired temps, interns and virtual assistants to help during busy times.
  • Hire more people before you feel understaffed. If your organization has a team exactly calibrated to its workload, then it will fall behind whenever someone is sick or on vacation. Teams need some amount of slack/redundancy in order to be resilient and reliable. Don’t wait until the team is overwhelmed; stay ahead of the workload curve in hiring whenever possible.
  • Facilitate team feedback with “Start, Stop, Continue”. Give team members an opportunity to share internal feedback on how their team is working together with a “Start, Stop, Continue” session. This can be hosted by a manager in real time, or explored using a Pulse Survey. Have participants submit ideas for:
    ○ What members of the team can start doing to be more effective.
    ○ What members of the team can stop doing to be more effective.
    ○ What members of the team can continue doing to be more effective.
    For each question, share the ideas on a (real or virtual) wall, group them into themes to identify similarities and differences, and provoke discussion. Agree together on one behavior to stop, start, and continue (three total) that the team will commit to. Agree what success will look like and set a check-in date.
  • One thing I'm saying no to. Manage department workflow by fairly distributing workloads. Have each person share at the beginning of the week, the “one thing they are saying no to” and why. It may be a meeting clash, a deadline that can be moved, or a function they don't need to attend. Encourage another team member to assist, step in or agree that it isn't a priority. This helps people to have clarity on where they add value, what priorities for the team are, and how they can help colleagues out when swamped.
  • Culture of commitment, not heroism. Define a culture of “commitment, not heroism” to prevent burnout and distribute workloads evenly among the team. Managers frequently see some employees taking on much more than they could own and deliver during business hours, and this behavior leads to burnout and poor-quality outputs. It can also be seen as heroism to over-deliver on what is required from a role. Commitment is viewed as clarity on what your roles are (i.e., who is accountable, who is a contributor, who gives approval), the project deliverables (what needs to be achieved, by when) and what you have permission to say yes/no to. By articulating what 'commitment' looks like on a team, and in a specific role, managers can prevent employees saying “yes” to unreasonable workloads or requests.
    ○ Define what a committed employee looks like at your organization.
    ○ Have permission from the team to “call out” when someone is slipping into heroism behaviors.
    ○ Additionally, in all one-on-one meetings, encourage managers to have commitment vs. heroism discussions about workload.
  • Custodians and Consultants. Increase flexibility and capacity by pairing employees to work together. This can help address uneven flow of work requirements that result in unreasonable workloads. Try pairing employees so that each employee has a primary portfolio of work (the Custodian), and has a secondary responsibility for filling in for a colleague (the Consultant) as needed, e.g., when on vacation, personal leave, or with a large project that requires additional resources. By having a backup in place, teams can accommodate increased workloads much more effectively, without putting too much strain on individual employees and ensuring all knowledge isn't held with one person.

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Learning & Advancement
  • Career Jungle Gym. Create a clear way to communicate all development opportunities. One organization developed what they call a Career Jungle Gym, which is a career pathing document that clearly lays out opportunities across the organization. The Career Jungle Gym will often differ depending on function and role and covers topics such as expected behaviors, scope, responsibilities, leadership traits, and independence/autonomy. This can also be used as a foundation to talk about new opportunities where an employee is not the right fit for a given role.
  • Evaluate the promotion process. Calibrate all processes involved during a promotion evaluation. 
    ○ Many organizations calibrate by department, team, and location. 
    ○ Progressive calibration processes also evaluate across gender, race/ethnicity, remote workers and other demographics. 
    ○ The main point is to promote employees based on a more comprehensive picture of your organizational structure, and to make sure to include those on parental leave and career leave.
  • Expand career conversations. Hold regular career-focused conversations with employees. One organization has mid-year career conversations that focus solely on development and career planning. These conversations are led by the employee so that they are encouraged to take ownership of their development. They are provided with a simple template to complete as a guide for the conversation. The employees are encouraged to include a discussion of their personal and job-related goals so the manager can give recommendations for individual skills development opportunities.
  • Insight days. Enabling employees to experience a different role for a day helps to develop empathy across functions and break down barriers. 
    ○ One organization developed a program where all employees are required to do at least one day in someone else's role each quarter. To make it easier and minimize disruption, this organization also allocated specific days when a larger group of people could switch roles. They created a rough guide for hosts to help them structure their day with minimal preparation. 
    ○ This initiative not only creates empathy for other roles, it also reduces silos and increases collaboration.
  • Internal job board. Ensure all employees are given a fair chance to move into new roles within the organization. After receiving feedback that opportunities were not being made available to employees on merit, one company set up a jobs board. All open jobs are posted internally, enabling employees to apply based on perceived skill fit. All applicants are considered before external recruitment is commenced.
  • Internal transfers program. Define the process for internal transfers. One organization set up an internal transfers program that clarifies how employees can move throughout the agency. They have created a booklet for employees that defines the step-by-step process to initiating a lateral move within the organization. This program has increased open communication between managers and their direct reports about transfer opportunities, and has made it clear when internal recruiters should get involved in the process.
  • Job exchange. Give employees a chance to test out different jobs within the business. 
    ○ One organization set up a job exchange program which enables employees to expand their experience and develop skills outside core capabilities. The exchange is generally initiated by an employee and facilitated by the manager and human resources team to ensure employees exchanging roles are set up to succeed.
    ○ Job exchanges ensure people are given an opportunity to learn and develop even if there are no new roles to move into.
  • Stay interviews. Learn before employees churn. 
    ○ One organization uses stay interviews as a way for the organization to re-engage with employees that are at risk of leaving. 
    ○ Stay interviews can be held at specific times in the employee lifecycle where employees are encouraged to discuss their career development needs as well as any blockers to their long-term success at the organization. 
    ○ In departments where there are higher rates of turnover, it can be helpful to have a skip-level meeting with someone more senior in the organization intermittently throughout the employee lifecycle. 
    ○ Have stay interviews with your employees when they hit their one year mark so you know what is important to that employee and most likely to influence their decision to stay committed.
  • Company-designed courses. Provide learning opportunities outside core job responsibilities. One organization has an “[Organization's name] University” which delivers both required content and optional classes for employees. The optional classes include topics that are both relevant and secondary to the mission of the company. The relevant courses foster an understanding of what other employees do on a daily basis, while the extracurricular classes provide a creative outlet.
  • Cross-organizational opportunities. Break down silos by providing opportunities for people to move into roles throughout the organization. One organization developed a program to encourage cross-agency movement of employees by bringing together managers from different departments to do talent reviews. They identify strong candidates for transfer to different departments and provide networking opportunities for people with similar disciplines across the organization.
  • Employee-driven education. Give employees an opportunity to learn from each other. One organization has created a learning and development program where employees teach classes and workshops that range from extracurricular skills to those that are essential to their roles. This has proven to be a formalized way for employees to share their skills and interests with others in the organization. The community aspect fosters collaboration and team support.
  • Fireside Chats. Learn from leaders outside the sector. One company in the business world has started Fireside Chats — a program to bring in industry leaders to discuss their insights on particular topics. All employees are invited to these discussions but are not required to attend. To enable employees around the world to get access, the chats are recorded and posted in a library on the company intranet for viewing at any time.
  • Hold employee skills-sharing sessions. One organization has created a program for employees to present and teach skills to interested employees in other departments. These sessions are optional and recorded to create a comprehensive library of past skills sessions that can be accessed by all employees for viewing at any time. This leverages the skills that are already present within the organization.
  • Publicize aspirations. Make career goals public within the organization. At one organization, employees display their career goals and objectives on an online platform used internally. Examples of goals include moving to another department or transitioning into a people leader role. Managers use this information as a conversation starter during one-on-one meetings. They also facilitate involvement in projects and introductions to people within the sector that might help employees achieve their goals.
  • Customized career templates. Providing customized career conversation templates helps facilitate career development conversations between managers and employees. Templates are customized depending on the employee's goals (e.g., gain leadership skills or transfer to a new department). Career conversation templates are useful to guide both performance reviews and employee check-ins.

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Organizational Alignment
  • Directly responsible individual (DRI). Assign the person to whom final decisions are made by, and how transparency is provided to the team. Apple first coined the title Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) to determine who has final say. The DRI is announced and shared with everyone involved in the project when responsibilities are assigned. While this conceptually may seem contrary to a team collaboration, this will enable the DRI to assign responsibilities, facilitate sharing of information, and project management of deliverables. It empowers everyone to know who and how decisions will be made. The DRI can lead and support the team by: 
    ○ Identify who keeps records of progress and decisions.
    ○ Assign key stakeholders to be involved, when and why. 
    ○ Establishing and garnering feedback.
    ○ Identifying collaborative tasks for people to work on together.
    ○ Identifying best practices in communication.
  • Honest feedback. Embrace vulnerability through honest feedback. Try having teams anonymously share feedback with leadership, which leaders read out loud back to the teams. (It’s humbling, but worth it!) Similar to “Mean Tweets” on Jimmy Kimmel, sharing faults with the team humanizes leadership and encourages others to share their thoughts, even when they’re critical. When managers and members of leadership share times when they made mistakes, and address the feedback received, it creates a safe space for teams to follow suit. At regular intervals in the year have the team submit feedback to the leadership team/individuals, to have them read aloud at the all staff meetings. Have them share their perspective, take the responsibility for actions or consequences, suggest what they learned and would do differently next time.
  • Information flows exercise. The information flows exercise focuses on identifying blockers. One organization’s teams get together regularly and look at their daily operations and opportunities for greater efficiency. They identify specific information blockers in the process. The team first asks, “When was our own team the blocker for another team, whether it was information withheld or taking too long to complete a task?” Then they discuss when their own team was blocked and how they can ask others to do things differently to prevent it from happening. Summaries from these meetings are shared internally and teams come together to design solutions.
  • Leadership vulnerability. Build psychological safety through leaders demonstrating vulnerability when receiving constructive feedback. The most difficult act when receiving a differing opinion is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and fully absorb the information without getting defensive. When leadership demonstrates vulnerability, courage and openness, it sends the message that learning from mistakes is valued and encourages teams to take risks. The more we can normalize receiving difficult feedback the more commonplace it becomes.
  • No triangles. Encourage open and honest feedback within your organization. The “no triangles” rule states that if you have feedback for an individual, then you must go directly to that individual and not to a third party. One leader implemented a “no triangles” rule in her team after finding that people were not being up-front and honest with one another. This behavior shift breaks down potential for gossip, rumors or hearsay in the team.
  • Skip-level meetings. Foster open communication and alignment using skip-level meetings. One organization has regular skip-level meetings, where directors skip their direct report and meet with their team, often one-on-one with individual contributors. The manager who reports to the director is not involved in these meetings. This fosters an open environment where employees feel included in important decisions. The directors have an opportunity to ensure that the mission and objectives of the team are clear and that the team is being fully enabled by the organization to meet its objectives.
  • Elephants, dead fish, and vomit. After receiving survey feedback that employees didn't feel they could be open and honest, the Airbnb executive team categorized their dialogue in meetings under three areas: “elephants,” “dead fish,” and “vomit.”
    Elephants are big things in the room nobody is talking about.
    Dead fish are things from the past people can't let go of.
    Vomit is for situations when someone just needs to be heard.
    Improve meeting effectiveness with clearly-defined opportunities to contribute feedback on these categories of things that often goes unsaid in organizations out in the open.
  • Meta-feedback rating. Improve your feedback process by zooming out to talk about the quality and quantity of feedback you and your reports give one another. In every 1:1 or in a special monthly feedback-focused 1:1, ask your direct reports four questions: 
    1. How satisfied are you with the feedback I give you in terms of usefulness and frequency? 
    2. How satisfied are you with feedback you’re giving me in terms of directness and frequency? 
    3. What would increase each score by 1 point? 
    4. What is a development area for you in which you’d like to get more feedback?
    Let your direct reports know about the “meta-feedback rating” in advance of the 1:1 so they have time to prepare their thoughts.
  • Rave cafe. Get to know your colleagues across the organization. One organization introduced RAVE Cafes, an initiative that collects a mixture of eight people from across the organization that don't usually work together to discuss their work experiences, once a month to reward and value employees. Nothing is off the table to discuss and it's left unscripted or facilitated. Some of the Board also come along at different times. This is a great opportunity to invite new employees within their first three months to help them feel welcome and meet more people. The intention of these conversations is to meet in an informal setting with no agenda and chat about life, work or anything else that is top of mind. By intentionally not having an agenda, people are able to connect on a more personal level and learn from one another.
  • Use internal communication channels better to align on team decisions. Create channels and tools specific to your organization that:
    ○ Allows teams to understand where communication will come from,
    ○ Gives them notice on when a decision will be posted,
    ○ Gives them opportunities to debate and discuss potential outcomes,
    ○ Sets a deadline on when a response is required,
    ○ Gives guidance on the final decision being made (e.g., highest/lowest votes, polls, post analysis of the commentary by the leaders, etc.), and
    ○ Share the decision once it is made and any changes to process, procedures, policies.
  • Alignment workshops. Align organizational work processes to organizational change efforts. One organization holds regular alignment workshops where mid-level managers, the ones responsible for making processes run efficiently and effectively, are asked to reflect on existing operational and people practices to identify how their current systems and processes might block achievement of the mission and strategic priorities. Outputs include a cost-impact analysis (matrix format) where high impact, low cost items are candidates for immediate action.
  • Capability and team profiles. Create a visual summary of your organization's strategic capabilities and map each role and team to the capabilities. One organization does this to help people understand how they contribute and who to go to for input on specific projects.
  • Coffeehouse meetings. Create casual forums for cross-team sharing. One organization designed "Coffeehouse" meetings where cross-functional teams can share what they are working on. The organization that started the monthly team "Coffeehouse" meeting did so to connect employees to key pieces of information and encourage cross-agency sharing. It is a casual, 90-minute meeting where various senior leaders explain what their teams are working on and how it links to organizational objectives. With high participation among employees and the most senior leaders, it was an innovative way to communicate.
  • In-person project kickoff. Bring every team member to a central location anytime there is a kick-off for a new project. One organization has found this helps align the team on the goals of the project and strengthens team member relationships from the beginning.
  • Level-up alignment sessions. Connect employees to the organization's mission using level-up alignment sessions. One organization delivers these sessions at annual all-hands conferences focused on their vision, mission, and brand. Every employee is encouraged to collaborate on what the vision, mission, and brand mean, and to align on key messaging. Internal keynote speakers drum up excitement for the mission, providing fresh perspectives.
  • Onboarding at headquarters. To get employees onboarded and contributing quickly in a way that best aligns with organizational goals, one agency brings all new employees (regardless of distance) to their headquarters as a part of their orientation. As part of this, new hires hear speeches from the executive team, and meet with colleagues from other functions who they will be working and collaborating with in their roles. There are ways to effectively transition this to a virtual setting: the important aspect is doing this consistently so that new hires have a shared experience.
  • Role narratives. Create role narratives for everyone on your team. Role narratives describe expectations of each role more broadly than a list of responsibilities, which is often seen in job descriptions. A role narrative is a simple one-page description that helps a hiring manager narrow in on and articulate the purpose of a role, as well as what success looks like in both the short term and long term. A role narrative will typically include: title, mission, 12-month vision, key outcomes and decision scope. It may also include a team mission and how the role contributes to the success of the team.
  • Team growth exercise. To facilitate team alignment on goals, one organization encourages each team to hold a quarterly team growth exercise where the teams state what they can accomplish in the short term (3–6 months), what they want to accomplish strategically in the long term (1–2 years) and what resources are needed from the organization to achieve those goals.
  • Consistent strategy communications. Improving communication of an organization’s strategic direction and ensuring executive alignment are essential to gaining employee support and maintaining employee motivation. One organization's communications department supports executives in delivering frequent updates to employees. Communications from executives celebrate wins and tie the wins to specific employee efforts and the overall business strategy. Having a representative from the communications department work with each executive results in regular communication about the direction of the organization. The message, tone and voice are consistent and communications are clear and easy to understand.
  • Managing the media cycle. Address grapevine gossip and untrue stories in the press by holding all hands meetings to help employees separate fact from fiction. One organization that is regularly featured in media has a “Managing the Press Cycle” program to squash rumors that surface about the organization's performance and future. At the meeting, leaders provide appropriate detail on the underlying truths (if any) behind stories.
  • Our vision of the future. To frame the long-term vision of the organization and provide a coherent view for all employees to support, each leader on the leadership team crafts a statement about the specific vision their team is pursuing. 
    ○ It addresses the future goals of their team and how those fit into the mission of the entire organization. 
    ○ It’s not meant to address current business metrics or projects, but rather how the organization will have a sector-wide impact in three years’ time.
  • Team question for all hands. Asking questions at an all-hands meeting can be daunting. To encourage healthy discussion, one organization launched an initiative where each team presented one question at the meeting. The team discussion prior to the meeting helped teams align on their focus areas and identify blockers.
  • Capabilities gap assessment. Conduct an organizational capabilities gap assessment. One organization assesses capabilities of team members against near and long-term strategic objectives. Through one-on-one and group interviews with leaders a shared understanding of peoples' strengths and weaknesses and the impact on the organization's objectives are established. The leaders then identify and agree on gaps in key capabilities that need to be acquired or developed. They align on and prioritize hiring pipeline efforts, people practices and rewards structures.
  • Constituent events. Connect employees to the constituents in your community in a formal in-person way to build empathy and engagement. One organization hosts community events, inviting constituents, funders as well as prospects. The event usually includes a panel discussion or a keynote speaker about a topic related to their programs and services. It's a great way for employees to engage with constituents and see the impact of the program or service they offer. Additionally, employees get useful feedback on requested changes to the program (or service delivery model) and how it compares to competitors' offerings.
  • Constituent wins. Share the value that constituents experience with employees on a regular basis. One organization invites a panel of constituents to be a part of their all-hands meetings. Each constituent explains how using their service/program has positively impacted them and shares some things they wish for. An employee moderates a Q&A session between the constituent panel and attendees.
    Team Level: The team lead can invite a panel of internal constituents to be a part of their team meeting. The internal constituents can explain how the team helps them achieve their goals, but also highlight some difficulties in working together.
  • Open NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey. Help people understand what matters to constituents. 
    ○ One organization communicates the complete results from their Customer NPS survey. A raw feed of the answers is posted in an internal communications channel. A weekly email that discusses changes in scores over time is sent to everyone in the organization. 
    ○ This helps people understand what constituents think about the service/program. 
    ○ It is also a great way of highlighting individual impact when employees are called out by constituents for excellent work.
  • Product teardowns. Create ways for people to provide formal feedback on program offerings. 
    ○ One organization has product teardowns where following the launch of a new program, all employees are invited to analyze and critique. The meetings start with breaking the program into its component parts. Then, the people discuss what is positive and what could be improved. Last, they brainstorm how to make those improvements and take ownership. 
  • Win of the week. Celebrate the wins of others by highlighting a win each week to the whole organization. 
    ○ One organization starts all-hands meetings by announcing the win of the week (selected by an internal communications team). They highlight how that win impacts overall objectives. This process of sharing key wins starts the meeting on a positive note and highlights progress toward organizational goals.
    Team Level: The team starts their meetings by going around the table and announcing a “win of the week”. Each team member chooses a win from another team to share how it impacts their own team.
  • Living our values. Help employees live organizational values. One organization created a booklet with a value on each page and space for signatures underneath. Booklets are given to employees at the new hire orientation in their first week of work. In order to “earn” an employee's signature on a value page, the new hire asks the employee what the value means and then paraphrases it to communicate understanding. The book is signed by the tenured employee if they feel the new employee paraphrased accurately. Each signature must be unique and the booklet is to be completed by the end of the 30-day training course. This creates additional opportunities for employees of varying tenures to interact, and for seasoned folks to regularly discuss company values with new employees.
  • One organization-wide conference. One organization holds a four-day conference touching on themes from the common drivers of engagement. The first day is about the organization's future, the second day is about the employees and their development, and the third day is for learning about each other and how employees work together. Bringing together people from multiple offices allows people to connect, share experiences and form bonds that aren't organically cultivated in geographically dispersed teams.
  • Storytelling. Help leaders communicate your organization's vision and goals and their own decisions using storytelling. One organization provides coaching and skill-building opportunities for all new leaders to help them translate their vision and ideas into compelling stories. This allows them to shape conversations, and inspire action. Most coaching exercises include both writing and telling stories.
  • The power of reiteration. Communicate your vision multiple times. Research shows that reiterating the vision through sufficient channels enables employees to better remember and recall it. For example, you can communicate the vision at weekly team meetings, off-sites, when new employees are onboarded, when new projects are assigned, or when wins are celebrated.

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Organizational Policies
  • Clarify the process: Clarify and communicate the process so that employees know what to do, who to talk to, and what will happen when a report is made.
  • Engage in practice and discussion. With partnership from outside experts, give employees an opportunity to talk through real-life situations and case studies to strengthen their understanding and familiarity with organizational policies. 

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Psychological Safety
  • The “Platinum Rule”. The “golden rule” says to treat others as you want them to treat you. To create a culture where employees feel safe and comfortable sharing unpopular opinions, one organization updated the golden rule to make it the “platinum rule” — to treat others the way they want to be treated. All managers were tasked with taking the time to find out their team's preferences for frequency of check-ins, style of communication, type of feedback, etc.
  • Welcome healthy conflict. Ask questions in a way that does not shut down creativity. One organization trained their managers to ask questions in a different way. Instead of “Why did you do this?”, ask, “What was your thought process?” They further encouraged their teams to ask questions of them. The dialogue created a culture where healthy conflict was welcomed. This led to employees feeling empowered to come to their managers with those wacky ideas, which sometimes prove to be invaluable.
  • Ask for dissent. To promote psychological safety, normalize dissent and encourage employees to speak up if they believe the organization is making mistakes. Top leaders can set the tone by frequently and visibly asking others (both senior management and frontline employees) to think of ways that the organization might be making mistakes.
  • Change the language around risk. Describe risk-taking in open terms. Avoid using negative associations. Instead of talking about risk-taking in terms of success vs failure, try speaking about it in terms of experimenting or exploring. The language you use when discussing risk-taking will be associated with it and will inadvertently become part of your culture.
  • Define risk-taking parameters. Create a clear set of guidelines to facilitate “smart risk-taking.” 
    ○ Having a rubric or a review process to help your team assess the risk they would want to take. 
    ○ This will mitigate unnecessary risks which may jeopardize your organization. 
    ○ Criteria can include: financial cost, people cost, timeline, resources, political capital, stakeholder involvement, etc.
  • Model how to take risks. Modeling risk-taking can help your team feel more confident in taking their own risks. 
    ○ If you, as a leader, only talk about taking risks and learning from failure, but you yourself are not willing to do so, your staff will be risk-averse as well. 
    ○ Walk the talk. Be transparent about the risks you're taking. Take them with you as you step out of your comfort zone. 
    ○ The more you model the behavior the more likely that your staff will pick up the habit.
  • Consider engaging in design thinking protocols.” Design thinking “sprints” and innovative ways to approach problems enable employees to build skill and get practice in creative thinking that may point to different ways of doing things that are outside of the box.  LUMA Institute and IDEO have excellent resources for this on their websites. 
  • What else? Encourage innovation and a creative approach to problem solving. 
    ○ Help your team change their approach to problem solving. Most people function under the assumption that there is only one right answer, which stifles innovation, creative-thinking, and risk-taking. 
    ○ When thinking through solutions, ask your team to give you 10 to 15 solutions/approaches to the problem. 
    ○ To reinforce this kind of thinking among your team, when a question is brought to your attention, don't answer it but instead ask them “What do you think we should do?” and then once they answer, ask them “What else?” Do this a few times, you'll be surprised what will be unearthed.
  • Decision-making framework. Making consultation part of the formal decision-making process facilitates transparency and clarity. 
    ○ One organization shares who has been consulted on a decision whenever a decision is shared. By highlighting the names of people who were consulted, reviewers of the decision can quickly identify the basis for the decision. 
    ○ This practice is particularly helpful in global organizations. It is not to demonstrate consensus, but to show that decision-makers considered other perspectives and implications.
  • Product teardowns. Create ways for people to provide formal feedback on program offerings. One organization has product teardowns where following the launch of a new program, all employees are invited to analyze and critique. The meetings start with breaking the program into its component parts. Then, the people discuss what is positive and what could be improved. Last, they brainstorm how to make those improvements and take ownership. 
  • Process hackathon. Bring together diverse perspectives to improve organizational processes. One organization holds an annual hackathon to improve processes. Each department chooses their least-favorite process (large departments can choose more than one). Cross-functional teams are formed with people from different departments and each team discusses how to improve one process. In addition to helping to improve efficiency, this also leads to greater empathy with colleagues.

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Professional Leadership
  • Consistent strategy communications. Improving communication of an organization’s strategic direction and ensuring executive alignment are essential to gaining employee support and maintaining employee motivation. 
    ○ One organization's communications department supports executives in delivering frequent updates to employees. 
    ○ Communications from executives celebrate wins and tie the wins to specific employee efforts and the overall business strategy. 
    ○ Having a representative from the communications department work with each executive results in regular communication about the direction of the organization. The message, tone and voice are consistent and communications are clear and easy to understand.
  • Decision-making framework. Making consultation part of the formal decision-making process facilitates transparency and clarity. 
    ○ One organization shares who has been consulted on a decision whenever a decision is shared. By highlighting the names of people who were consulted, reviewers of the decision can quickly identify the basis for the decision. 
    ○ This practice is particularly helpful in global organizations. It is not to demonstrate consensus, but to show that decision-makers considered other perspectives and implications.
  • Open forums. Hold regular open forum meetings with senior leaders. This gives the entire staff a way to hear from the CEO and pose questions about the state of the organization, when they normally don't have that access.
  • Virtual summit. Keep leaders informed about the direction of your organization. At one agency, directors and above (about 10% of the organization) are invited to a virtual summit each year. At the summit, content about the organization that is being presented to the Board of Directors is shared. This increases transparency and alignment.
  • Public executive channel. Enable greater transparency in decision making by making executive discussions on internal communication channels available to anyone at the organization. One agency did this by ensuring there was no private channel, only the public (internal) channel, which gives employees greater visibility into the main topics of discussion within the organization.
  • Shared leader updates. Share department updates on the state of the agency regularly to keep everyone informed on what is occurring across the organization. 
    ○ At one organization a leader from a different department each week shares an update. The leader is encouraged to link the team's mission and objectives to overall objectives of the organization. However, the content of the email is completely up to the department head, resulting in interesting and creative emails (sometimes with quotes and pictures) that serve the dual purpose of updating employees and gathering feedback. 
    ○ This activity can be quite valuable for organizations that are growing quickly and struggling to keep people connected to the leadership team.
  • Synthesis sessions. Hold open forums to share information about the current state of the organization with employees. One organization has “Synthesis sessions” which are monthly meetings where a leader discusses current challenges and successes. The first 15 minutes focus on the leader sharing current opportunities and discussing future possibilities. The remaining time is devoted to open discussion on any questions employees have and any concerns that individuals on the team may have about blockers to their ability to help the agency achieve its goals.
  • Celebrate success. Celebrate your staff and the things you do well as an organization. Whether that celebration is an all-team lunch, an outing, an acknowledgment at an all-team meeting, or anything else that feels right for your culture, it will go a long way in helping staff feel heard and valued for their feedback.
  • Plan for action. Leaders communicate the 1–3 priority areas to address and share a proposed plan for action. 
    ○ Ask employees for input on the plan, implement, and ask for feedback along the way. 
    ○ It is important for employees to feel part of the process, but not overburdened with a new responsibility.
  • Survey results share-out. Organizations share Employee Experience Survey results in different ways and at different levels of detail. 
    ○ Consider an all-hands meeting, departmental meetings, or organization-wide email. 
    ○ Share as much detail as makes sense. You may decide to share a few key strengths and one to three gaps or you may want to share your data in more detail. 
    ○ Follow up six months later to report progress on actions taken as a result of the survey.
  • Anonymous questions. Make space for feedback and questions from all employees. 
    ○ To facilitate questions at all hands meetings, one organization created an anonymous communications channel (using its internal communication software). Employees ask questions anonymously prior to all hands meetings. The questions are then answered by leadership at these meetings. 
    ○ Employees feel that their voices are heard and they can express their opinions without connecting their name to the question. 
    ○ This could also be done at a team level prior to team meetings.
  • Captivate and connect. Highlight how people live the organizational values. 
    ○ At one organization every leader shares a story about an employee living the organization's values at the quarterly all hands meeting. This gives leaders a chance to demonstrate that they see how people contribute to the success of the organization. It also reinforces the core values of the organization and leaders' deep understanding of and alignment with the values.
    ○ Team leaders could share similar stories at team meetings.
  • Diverse leaders, diverse stories. Collect inspiring stories from leaders at your organization. 
    ○ Many leaders often have stories of success and failure that help put a spotlight on their own passion, as well as how it relates to the organization's success. 
    ○ By communicating these stories internally and externally, you can showcase diverse experiences and backgrounds, and encourage employees to share and get involved in the conversation.
  • Organization-wide conference. One organization holds a four-day conference touching on themes from the common drivers of engagement. The first day is about the organization's future, the second day is about the employees and their development, and the third day is for learning about each other and how employees work together. Bringing together people from multiple offices allows people to connect, share experiences and form bonds that aren't organically cultivated in geographically dispersed teams.
  • Level-up alignment sessions. Connect employees to the organization's mission using level-up alignment sessions. One organization delivers these sessions at annual all-hands conferences focused on their vision, mission, and brand. Every employee is encouraged to collaborate on what the vision, mission, and brand mean, and to align on key messaging. Internal keynote speakers drum up excitement for the mission, providing fresh perspectives.
  • Monthly webinar. Keep employees connected and involved with the organization’s direction. At one organization, a different member of the executive team or management team hosts a webinar each month on a topic relevant to their part of the organization. The webinar session is available for all employees, includes a 15-minute Q&A session, and is recorded for anyone unable to attend to accommodate time zones.
  • Lunch drop-ins. Increase visibility and accessibility of leaders by holding regular lunches hosted by executives. At one organization executives have one lunch a month with a team that is randomly selected. Leaders have an opportunity to meet and get to know employees outside their team. Leaders connect with employees outside day-to-day activities and employees have a chance to get to know leaders on a more personal level.
  • Internal communications channels. Use internal communications channels to align on decisions and organize communication. Consider creating individual channels for specific projects and teams to support cross-communication. These could be email threads, message boards, chat channels within Slack or similar software, or other formats; the important thing is to set expectations about who will communicate what kinds of information when and where
    ○ All key decisions are then shared and debated in the relevant channels, ensuring that team members are involved in outcomes that affect day-to-day work activities. 
    ○ Team members are not required to be involved in the conversation, but are welcome to participate if they choose to.
  • Leadership vulnerability. Build psychological safety through leaders demonstrating vulnerability when receiving constructive feedback. The most difficult act when receiving a differing opinion is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and fully absorb the information without getting defensive. When leadership demonstrates vulnerability, courage and openness, it sends the message that learning from mistakes is valued and encourages teams to take risks. The more we can normalize receiving difficult feedback the more commonplace it becomes.
  • Our vision of the future. To frame the long-term vision of the organization and provide a coherent view for all employees to support, each leader on the leadership team crafts a statement about the specific vision their team is pursuing. It addresses the future goals of their team and how those fit into the mission of the entire organization. It’s not meant to address current business metrics or projects, but rather how the organization will have a sector-wide impact in three years’ time.

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Salary & Benefits
  • Define your talent strategy.  In order to develop a comprehensive and effective approach to compensation, organizations should first have a point of view and understanding of the talent they hope to attract, hire and retain. They may elect, for example, to be market leading, or to take another approach.
  • Salary Bands in six steps. In Salary Bands: Valuing Talent with Intention and Transparency, we lay out six steps to more transparent, rational, and equitable compensation. Most employees don't understand how pay decisions are made at their organizations. That's a big problem, because research suggests that employees care more about whether they feel pay is fair than they do about the absolute amount they are paid. Read the guide for full explanations and examples. The six steps are:
    1. Create a compensation philosophy.
    2. Complete a job analysis.
    3. Benchmark with market data.
    4. Build salary bands.
    5. Determine salaries and raises.
    6. Share the bands with your team.
  • Frequent pay calibrations: Instead of yearly pay calibrations, consider more frequent check-ins. This approach of more frequent salary checks is based on the thinking that the moment you realize an employee deserves a raise, they should receive it. The longer between that realization and the raise, the more time the employee has to feel that their contributions are not being fairly compensated. In a highly competitive job market this can lead to regrettable turnover that could have otherwise been addressed.
  • Say what you pay. Be clear on the salary range when advertising new roles to promote fair pay across the organization. Candidates shouldn't have to feel their current earning is a criteria in whether or not they get the job. By being clear on what someone can expect in the role, candidates can self-select whether they wish to be part of the process and ensure no one is unduly wasting their time. 
    ○ This practice allows people to decide to apply for a role with all the necessary information. Someone with deep passion for what you do that's less motivated by salary will not be overlooked. It also ensures equity of pay from the outset. Simply matching or boosting current pay can perpetuate gender or ethnicity pay gaps over time.
    ○ Being transparent with equal pay for equal work demonstrates a culture of equality from the point of entry into the business and helps embed that as a value throughout the employee lifecycle.
  • Talking about our relationships with money. Hosting sessions with your people to establish their current and desired relationships with money can shift their perceptions on pay parity, and dispel some unconscious bias. Credit Karma are passionate about tying people's understanding of how they're paid to their actual work, and want to make sure that people understand that connection. They hosted town hall meetings and Q&A via tech (Slack) on pay transparency to have a real conversation about how compensation works.
    ○ Workshops can uncover and challenge beliefs people have towards money, compensation and value, inequities related to compensation and negotiation, and more.
  • Don't negotiate pay when hiring. Remove pay negotiation from the hiring process by offering transparency on role compensation from the outset. Clarity on the full package (base and bonuses) from the outset will ensure that candidates are aware of the compensation in light of the role, responsibilities, and organization culture to inform their decision-making process, and refrain from rewarding or punishing them for their ability to negotiate.
  • Equal pay day. Pledge your organization's commitment to equal pay for all by sharing initiatives and progress on Equal Pay Day—April 2nd in the U.S.A. (different countries observe different dates). Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap. It is estimated that women earn $.80 for every dollar men earn, and the statistics only get worse for different ethnicities and demographic groups of people. Setting initiatives around Equal Pay Day is a way to set goals and track the improvements made by your organization in lessening the gap in pay discrepancy.

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The Board
  • Showing up. Encourage board members to show up to the organization’s programming, or volunteer for the organization, if and when appropriate. This provides an authentic, natural way to show board members some of the work of the team in action, and to build more points of connection among the board, the team, and the work. Moreover, when the board has the opportunity to see the work up close, it often helps in their strategic decision-making and setting of organizational priorities. Some boards may want to create a committee or task force to boost board member attendance and engagement with the organization’s programming.
  • Board gratitude. Create opportunities to raise staff visibility to the board, and opportunities for board members to show appreciation to the team. In the case of smaller organizations, it could be in the form of handwritten notes or in-person thank you meetings or calls. For larger organizations, it could take the form of sending gifts or throwing gratitude lunches or other events and celebrations recognizing the work and dedication of the staff. Depending on the type of organization, some boards may want to create committees or task forces on staff appreciation. This can be especially helpful for larger and remote organizations, where team members have fewer opportunities to interact with the board.
  • Board-professional mentorship program. Board members (or other volunteer leaders) can serve as mentors to professionals. Taking time to invest in professionals in this way builds deeper connections and expands skills and knowledge for both the volunteer leader and the professional. Make sure expectations are clear (e.g. meet once a quarter; goal might be to build awareness of each other's jobs). Consider if a formal application process for participation is appropriate.
  • Align the board and professionals regarding values. CEOs and boards can periodically review organizational values and ensure that professionals and boards are aligned about what the values are and how the mission and work serve those values. Conversations that reground the work in values and vision can be a useful jumping-off point for conversations between the CEO and the board about long-term strategy and organizational priorities. These conversations can also set up interactions between board members and team members to be conducted on the basis of the explicitly shared values. Articulating organizational values and translating them into the way the organization works is also an excellent way to onboard new board members into multiple levels of their work as board members.
  • Values-based storytelling. One organizational value is highlighted during every board meeting by a board member or staff member telling a story that centers around that value. 
    ○ This is a way to emphasize and remind everyone of the core values and also to highlight the great work of the organization. 
    ○ Some organizations also invite people who have been impacted by the organization to share a story with the board. 

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Well-Being
  • Email response policies. Provide clear expectations on when work activity is appropriate after standard work hours. 
    ○ Instead of instituting a ban on emails after work hours, one company developed clear policies around when someone is expected to respond to an email (or other communication). 
    ○ Having policies about response expectations ensures everyone is on the same page. 
    ○ It also doesn't inhibit employees from sending ideas outside of normal hours, especially for those whom may intentionally keep different hours —there is just no expectation that a response will occur until the following work day. 
    ○ Within your team, determine what the current norms are for sending and receiving emails and messages.  Recognize that people may keep atypical or different hours given the pandemic and various caregiving responsibilities and communicate accordingly. 
  • Work-life policy manager training. Help managers role model effective work-life choices. 
    ○ One organization developed a training program for managers to understand how they can encourage good work-life choices. The training educates managers on current policies and encourages them to make full use of vacation days and telecommuting options. 
    ○ One organization implemented a work/life blend accountability buddy system in which team members checked in on each other to make sure they were making time for self-care and were keeping off-hours emails to a minimum.
  • Collaborate by example. Leaders are a powerful instrument to facilitate change. Ensure that leaders are demonstrating collaborative behaviors among themselves and encouraging collaboration within the organization. This may look like regular leadership meetings to share updates and explicitly discuss opportunities for greater collaboration across the organization. It might also look like two departments/teams meeting to discuss ways to actively support each other. It could also mean that leaders fill in for each other when one is out to demonstrate that they know about multiple components of the organizations and can step in for each other as needed.
  • Coffee chat. Take time out of your day to get to know your team members on a more personal level. 
    ○ Managers can have monthly chats with individual team members outside the office, usually at a local coffee shop or having a video call coffee from your remote locations. 
    ○ The intention of these conversations is to meet away from the office with no agenda and chat about life, work or anything else that is top of mind. 
    ○ By intentionally not having an agenda, people are able to connect on a more personal level. 
    ○ Set aside half an hour or an hour depending on your schedule to meet up with a team member at a local coffee shop or anywhere outside the office setting.
  • Recharge days. Flexible time off to counter burnout for people who have been putting in long hours. 
    ○ These are offered in addition to vacation days that require approval, consider giving employees fully flexible time off. 
    ○ Look at offering recharge days to be used when an employee has worked exceptionally hard on a project, had significant time traveling for work or just generally feels at risk of burnout. 
    ○ This is a low-cost way to offer appreciation for going over and above, and ensure that the team builds in recovery time if they've had a sprint, deadline or tricky task to accomplish. 
    ○ Agree that managers' can appoint a recharge day at their discretion. 
    ○ Let the team know when someone is out of the office on a recharge day and why this day was offered to them, and to avoid contacting them to fully immerse themself in catching up.
  • Out-of-office notices. Remind employees to put up out-of-office automatic responses to their emails, so that they are more likely to truly unplug and not check email over weekends, holidays, or vacations.
  • The how sandwich. Guide managers to help employees communicate in their one-on-one conversations. Coaches at one organization challenge managers to apply the “how sandwich'” to all one-on-one conversations over a week’s time. They begin every one-on-one conversation with “How are you?” and close with “How can I help?”
  • Adopt a plant. Foster team commitment and engagement. One organization encourages teammates/officemates to choose a plant to purchase and to name it creatively. They are encouraged to do research based on how much light and water is needed. Keeping the plant alive is a team activity and they also decorate the plants during festive holidays.
  • Captivate and connect. Highlight how people live the organizational values. 
    ○ At one organization every leader shares a story about an employee living the organization's values at the quarterly all hands meeting. 
    ○ This gives leaders a chance to demonstrate that they see how people contribute to the success of the organization. 
    ○ It also reinforces the core values of the organization and leaders' deep understanding of and alignment with the values. 
    Team Level: Team leaders could share similar stories at team meetings.
  • Coffeehouse meetings. Create casual forums for cross-team sharing. One organization designed “Coffeehouse” meetings where cross-functional teams can share what they are working on. The organization that started the monthly team Coffeehouse meeting did so to connect employees to key pieces of information and encourage cross-agency sharing. It is a casual, 90-minute meeting where various senior leaders explain what their teams are working on and how it links to organizational objectives. With high participation among employees and the most senior leaders, it was an innovative way to communicate.
  • Communal space. Create a space for your team to build community. 
    ○ Help employees find ways to connect across teams by creating spaces that encourage collaboration and teamwork. 
    ○ Consider creating a communal space with lounge chairs, books, arcade games, outdoor space and snacks for employees to use when they want to take a casual break.
    ○ Evidence suggests a link between the use of third spaces and the promotion of well-being and happiness. 
    ○ Having available public spaces where one can relax, connect with others, rejuvenate and exercise, also has numerous health benefits. 
    ○ Choose a location for the space that situates it between multiple departments to encourage conversations between employees that might not otherwise interact. 
    ○ These spaces can also be hosted virtually.
  • Hack the halls. For teams who work in person, get employees involved in improving their workspace. One organization conducts a decorating event after hours in each office. Food and beverages are supplied by the organization and the decorating theme is chosen to match the values and mission of the organization. The kickoff gathering clarifies guidelines and ensures art and decorating is in line with organizational values. Teams spend a few hours decorating and moving furniture. A limited budget is available to purchase things that make the office more enjoyable.
  • Open forums. Hold regular open forum meetings with senior leaders. This gives the entire staff a way to hear from the CEO and pose questions about the state of the organization, when they normally don't have that access.
  • Living our values. Help employees live organizational values. One organization created a booklet with a value on each page and space for signatures underneath. Booklets are given to employees at the new hire orientation in their first week of work. In order to “earn” an employee's signature on a value page, the new hire asks the employee what the value means and then paraphrases it to communicate understanding. The book is signed by the tenured employee if they feel the new employee paraphrased accurately. Each signature must be unique and the booklet is to be completed by the end of the 30-day training course. This creates additional opportunities for employees of varying tenures to interact, and for seasoned folks to regularly discuss company values with new employees.
  • Lunch drop-ins. Increase visibility and accessibility of leaders by holding regular lunches hosted by executives. At one organization executives have one lunch a month with a team that is randomly selected. Leaders have an opportunity to meet and get to know employees outside their team. Leaders connect with employees in outside day-to-day activities and employees have a chance to get to know leaders on a more personal level.
  • Onboarding at headquarters. To get employees onboarded and contributing quickly in a way that best aligns with organizational goals, one agency brings all new employees (regardless of distance) to their headquarters as a part of their orientation. As part of this, new hires hear speeches from the executive team, and meet with colleagues from other functions who they will be working and collaborating with in their roles.
  • Rotate and create. For teams who work together in person, make regular changes to the physical workspace. 
    ○ Without recognizing it, the physical environment we are in creates a certain mindset. Always sitting at the same desk, same view, same walls, same neighbors leads to the same ideas/thoughts. By radically changing the physical set up, you can change the mental setup. 
    ○ This includes thinking outside the box to change the environment, like making the office pet friendly. 
    ○ You can also change the room set up, shuffle desks, change chairs, etc.
  • Skip-level meetings. Foster open communication and alignment using skip-level meetings. One organization has regular skip-level meetings, where directors skip their direct report and meet with their team, often one-on-one with individual contributors. The manager who reports to the director is not involved in these meetings. This fosters an open environment where employees feel included in important decisions. The directors have an opportunity to ensure that the mission and objectives of the team are clear and that the team is being fully enabled by the organization to meet its objectives.
  • Stay interviews. Learn before employees churn. 
    ○ One organization uses stay interviews as a way for the organization to re-engage with employees that are at risk of leaving. 
    ○ Stay interviews can be held at specific times in the employee lifecycle where employees are encouraged to discuss their career development needs as well as any blockers to their long-term success at the organization. 
    ○ In departments where there are higher rates of turnover, it can be helpful to have a skip level meeting with someone more senior in the organization intermittently throughout the employee lifecycle.
    Team Level: Have stay interviews with your employees when they hit their one year mark so you know what is important to that employee and most likely to influence their decision to stay committed.
  • Meditation room/meditation sessions. Create a quiet space/opportunity for employees to work or reset. One organization turned an unused space in the office into a meditation room. Employees often volunteer to lead meditation sessions and invite the entire office. Remote teams can also include meditation as part of virtual meetings.

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