Lessons on turning the Great Resignation into the Great Attraction in the Tech industry

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The Covid-19 pandemic has made employees across the globe introspect on the quality of life they are living and are able to offer to their families. What began as a forethought during the economic slump of 2018 became a motivating factor with the advent of the pandemic. Today, the world is in the midst of what is being termed as the ‘Great Resignation’. As per a Mckinsey report, more than 19 million US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021. This explosive attrition rate has hurt every industry.

Organizations that have realised the talent drain have taken up various initiatives to retain them, with financial perks being the most common and the obvious one. However, it seems that no amount of financial perks or lifestyle enhancing gift coupons or entertainment facilities in the premises are stopping the rising number of resignations. 

However, on the brighter side of things, there are a few innovative organizations that have clocked record performances and kept their employees content at the same time. All this, while tackling the challenges posed by the pandemic. One such organization that garnered some great reputation in the industry and among its employees is Everest Engineering. Craig Brown, the CEO of the software company based in India, shared some insights with us on how he looks to maintain a great work environment at the company.

Craig Brown, CEO, Everest Engineering

What are the measures taken at Everest Engineering to deliver sustainable software solutions?

It comes back to that ecosystem. We have four promises to nourish that ecosystem. A promise to our customers, and a promise to the community. Nested in those headings, there’s feedback loops. It’s all about having empathy for others, understanding each other and our customers to do our best work. We need to have purpose about why we are coming together, and if we don’t know how we’re making a difference then we need to stop and ask why.

Fostering a strong sense of community is important, as we perform best when we know we have the support of other people. Leadership is everyone’s job so we always take the time to make sure others are supported and connected.  

We believe it’s important to support others to make them successful, and that this is the fastest way to build high-performing teams. By being accountable, we can take on more trust and autonomy and make more ambitious contributions.

Do share some of your experiences in regard to the challenges that some of your colleagues are facing with the new work model.

People want to be growing and learning in their job, they want to be able to apply that knowledge the way it makes sense to them, and they want to see that their work has an impact on the world. At every step, feedback and the ability to act on that feedback matters.

Paying attention to what motivates people is even more important when you’re in an industry where it is hard to hire smart, talented people – for example the software industry. If you don’t give people the latitude to make decisions based on their experience and the insights they have about the challenges they are addressing, they’ll simply leave.

Great management is the key to success in truly high-performing organisations. Great managers shape an environment that enables teams to do great work. That can include making space, setting directions, providing guidance or information, but at the end of the day, most decisions about what work needs to be done are best made by the people that are close to the customers. Great managers also know how to stay out of the way when they need to.

You have talked at length about the new work model this current pandemic has compelled us into. Do share with us the disadvantages and the advantages of micromanagement.

Micromanagement is generally a toxic behaviour that says more about a manager not knowing how to do their manager job than about the person doing the actual work.

There is a time for close instruction; when you are brand new to a problem space, and you don’t know what to do you probably appreciate someone taking the time to help you understand what needs to be done and the constraints of the situation. But while this is close attention, it isn’t really micromanagement, as we all know.

Micromanagement is considered a bad term. It means someone telling you what to do all the time and constantly checking up on you. People don’t want some manager telling them what to do and how to do it, especially by someone who knows less about the problem than they do.

The pandemic challenged a lot of bad managers; how do they show their value when all of a sudden everyone is working remotely, and you can’t constantly check up on people. I hope most managers have found that there are better ways to add value through leading, coaching and supporting team members and that people are learning to stop with micromanagement.

What are the initiatives taken at Everest Engineering to build a strong social community?

We are continually investing in the fabric of transnational culture. We run a variety of social events, including remote ones for the people working from home. These can include karaoke sessions, learning to watercolour, playing music together, playing games and more. When people have been in lockdown, we have worked hard on making space for people to spend social time together.

We also work on our culture in the context of work; how do we work with others, how do we solve problems and how do we actually do our jobs as team members and individual contributors. We are continually coming together to discuss what we can do to be better at our work. We think about technical practices, communication and interactions and the way we work as a team. We never stop looking for ways to improve.

We recently conducted a coaching program where we taught people how to have coaching conversations and then set up a bunch of people to run peer coaching conversations. The people that participated in the program got a lot out of it, including feeling better about work, about the lockdowns and about their careers.

Relationships are the platform for business success. Not transactions.

What are the initiatives that could be taken by the management to adapt the organization to the changing work culture and the lifestyle of the employees?

I am sure that we will eventually gravitate back to offices, but we will treat our offices differently to what we did before. We will have a more multi-modal approach to where we work. Offices will become one of the places we work. We will also work at home. Some of us will also hit the road and work while travelling. Organisations that don’t allow flexibility will lose out on hiring the best possible talent. Organisations that learn how to facilitate great remote working experiences as well as provide great office experiences will thrive.

We’ve talked about fitting out offices like a coworking space. Taking that idea of mixed model work spaces further; not only will people work at home and at offices, they’ll also want to have different experiences at the office.

We think about deconstructing what an office does and thinking mindfully about what the purpose of that real estate needs to be in a modern digital economy. It is definitely more about social connection and collaboration than individual contributor work, but in a day people will move from one mode of work to another, and so the office needs to accommodate a variety of work modes.

Music rooms, professional kitchens, games areas, open and closed meeting spaces, team and individual working spaces all need to be present and people need to be able to access the work spaces they need for the mode of work they are engaging in.

Article by Ujal Nair. Excerpts of an email response from Everest Engineering

Also Read: Beat the Great Resignation

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