Source: Lynda Gratton, Harvard Business Review, May-June, 2021
When designing flexible work arrangements, focus on individual human concerns, not just institutional ones.
Since the pandemic, companies have adopted the technologies of virtual work remarkably quickly—and employees are seeing the advantages of more flexibility in where and when they work. As leaders recognize what is possible, they are embracing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset work using a hybrid model.
To make this transition successfully, they’ll need to design hybrid work arrangements with individual human concerns in mind, not just institutional ones. That requires companies to approach the problem from four different perspectives: (1) jobs and tasks; (2) employee preferences; (3) projects and workflows; and (4) inclusion and fairness.
Leaders also need to conceptualize new work arrangements along two axes: place and time. Millions of workers around the world this year have made a sudden shift from being place-constrained (working in the office) to being place-unconstrained (working anywhere). Employees have also experienced a shift along the time axis, from working synchronously with others 9 to 5 to working asynchronously whenever they choose.
If leaders and managers can successfully make the transition to an anywhere, anytime model, the result will be work lives that are more purposeful and productive….
Source: Salwa Rahim-Dillard, Harvard Business Review, April 19, 2021
Many managers are ill-equipped to lead and connect with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) employees. Until white leaders become skilled at bridging (connecting with people different from them) and BIPOC leaders become skilled at bonding (connecting with people similar to them), BIPOC employees will not experience workplace inclusion. Hundreds of socially conscious CEOs have engaged in CEO activism and pledged their commitment to advance racial equity and inclusion. But many leaders (white and BIPOC) don’t know the explicit behaviors needed to implement the desired change. The author presents a research-based, multi-use performance, assessment, and training tool that provides behavioral descriptors to identify and measure a manager’s skill level at inclusively leading and authentically connecting with people from marginalized and underrepresented groups.
Source: Liz Kislik, Harvard Business Review, January 18, 2021
From the summary:
As offices continue to open up, there are ongoing discussions in many organizations about when and how employees should return to work. What should you do if your team wants to continue to work from home and senior leadership wants everyone to start showing up in person? You can advocate for your team, as long as you do it tactfully. Focus on what your leaders care about and find ways to show that remote work is beneficial to the company, not just to individuals. Demonstrate that your team is engaged no matter where they are located. For example, you might invite leaders to video meetings that include both in-person and remote workers. And encourage employees to treat company leaders as their most important customers. An emphasis on formal respect and personal interest can mitigate some leaders’ concern that employees aren’t taking their work seriously when they’re at home.
Source: Taehee Kim, Lauren Bock Mullins, Taewon Yoon, American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published February 10, 2021
From the abstract:
Many employers, including the federal government, have introduced or extended their telework arrangements because of the associated advantages, which include cost-efficiency, personnel pool enlargement, and employee well-being and motivation. Despite the continued interest from both academics and practitioners, little understanding has emerged about this work arrangement, with scant studies in public administration and organization literature. Among those studies, consensus has not been formed as to the organizational benefits, especially on performance or employee motivation. Previous studies have also overlooked the heterogeneous characteristics of teleworkers, the dynamics between teleworkers and nonteleworkers, and especially, the role of supervisors in managing telework to achieve proposed benefits. This study adds to previous literature by empirically examining the role of supervisors in managing/motivating teleworkers toward improving organizational performance, using data from the 2011 Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Telework study. Findings suggest that supervision which includes results-based management and trust-building efforts improves performance of organizations that have telework arrangements.
Source: Megan Reitz, John Higgins, and Emma Day-Duro, Harvard Business Reivew, February 26, 2021
Leaders tend to be ill-equipped to handle outspoken employees. But with employee activism on the rise, leaders need to be wary of mishandling their response. These missteps can be damaging for leaders and companies, which can suffer from reputational damage and ongoing employee unrest. The authors’ research into how employees speak up at work and politics in the workplace have shown that three fundamental traps snare leaders facing activism from their employees: over-optimism, a belief that you can be apolitical, and a rush to quick fixes. By better understanding where each of these approaches go wrong, leaders can chart a better course, one that is built on a more authentically engaged leadership.
Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61 no. 1, 2021
From the abstract:
A case study presents a public library director who has traveled lavishly with library funding to the annual American Library Conference while three librarians with professional obligations did not receive support. The initial analysis concludes that she did nothing illegal or even unethical and presents reasons why her expenditures may be less troubling than they seem. Nonetheless, she behaved unwisely because her actions may have a negative effect upon employee morale and her relationship with the community. The general principle for all library managers should be to evaluate the necessity of professional travel, especially to attractive locations, and to make sure that an administrator is the appropriate person to represent the library. Beyond travel, administrators should not be exempt from cost saving measures because of the current pandemic. One additional complication is a differing judgment between the administrator and staff about what is a perk and what is an obligation.
Source: Miyeon Song, Kenneth J. Meier, OnlineFirst, Published October 26, 2020
From the abstract:
Public managers and employees should be on the same page for successful performance. Managers’ self-evaluations of their own management, however, often do not match employees’ evaluations. Despite the consistent findings of a discrepancy between managers’ and employees’ perceptions of management, little research has examined how this perceptual incongruence affects employee job satisfaction. The present study addresses this question using parallel surveys from both managers and employees in the context of public education. The findings suggest managers overestimate their management effectiveness in general. As the perceptual gap between managers and employees increases, employees are less likely to be satisfied with their organization and their profession. We also find that this relationship is nonlinear, and the negative effects of incongruence could be accelerated when employees have considerable consensus about management. This study highlights the role of perceptual congruence in creating a better work environment and promoting job satisfaction for public employees.
Source: Andrew Wesemann, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2020
From the abstract:
The current human capital crisis, compounded by tumultuous workforce conditions in the public sector, holds consequential implications for governmental performance. As a result, scholarship has emerged emphasizing the importance of strategic human capital management (SHCM), which is explicitly intended to curtail organizational instability and concurrently improve performance levels. There is, however, a paucity of empirical research testing whether SHCM does, in fact, influence performance in public sector organizations. In an effort to fill this gap in the literature, this study tests for such a relationship in an analysis of agencies throughout the U.S. federal government. Using data from a large sample of federal employees, within 45 agencies, hierarchical linear modeling results reveal that SHCM holds a significantly positive relationship with performance measures at the employee level, although agency level results are less conclusive. Nevertheless, findings provide foundational quantitative evidence that the performance related benefits of SHCM are generalizable to the public workforce and transcend sector boundaries.
Source: Nana Amma A. Acheampong, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, September 18, 2020
From the abstract:
Generation Z is the youngest and newest entrants into the workforce. However, confusion about their characteristics, work values, and reward preferences hinders effort to attract, recruit, and retain this generational cohort into public sector organizations. Accordingly, this study investigates effective reward strategies for recruiting and retaining Generation Z into public sector organizations. I used an evidence-based research approach and an aggregative systematic review as the study methodology. The evidence curated from 32 studies reveals how the background and life experiences of Generation Z influence the importance they assign their work values, reward preferences, and how they prioritize rewards in terms of their employment decisions. Additionally, gender also influenced the importance Gen Z assigned to specific rewards. Overall, Gen Z’s strong attractiveness to specific extrinsic and intrinsic rewards makes public sector organizations a likely employer of choice and offers managers a viable strategy for attracting, recruiting, and retaining the youngest generational workforce.
Source: Joseph Popcun, Rockefeller Institute of Government blog, September 24, 2020
On September 10, 2020, the Rockefeller Institute of Government hosted a webinar with senior leaders from state and local government who reflected on the management challenges and opportunities that arose during the response to—and ongoing recovery from—the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The goal of the conversation was to understand how the public sector rapidly adopted new policies and adapted operations to meet new demands, particularly in support of a workforce that was able to work remotely to deliver essential services to constituents virtually. Based on their experiences over the past six months, panelists informed the audience of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers about dramatic changes to the public sector landscape—changes that may be features of the “new normal” for months and years to come.
This post explores some of the key themes that the panelists shared about how government was, and can continue to be, reimagined to ensure accessibility and continuity of services, as well as to attract and retain a workforce that makes government work for the people. The panelists discussed the “nuts and bolts” of how specific agencies devised new management approaches, leveraged remote work options, deployed public health and safety precautions for essential in-person work, and identified ways to improve resiliency and ensure continuity of their operations. These lessons are an invaluable resource to state and local governments throughout the United States as they continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19 and face a potential resurgence of viral transmission within their communities.