Image of a man sitting in the green forest working on his laptop.
#Business Transformation

Ensuring employees flourish in the new world of work

Global Trends
5 Mins.

Today’s hybrid, distributed working environments present both benefits and challenges to many employees. But they also require individuals to adopt new mindsets, disciplines, work patterns, and processes. How can they thrive within these new environments and how should they expect management teams to support them? As part of a two-part interview on new work models, we ask two senior executives from G+D’s people management team – Beate Vollmond and Thomas Steininger.

Employee perspectives on new models

What are the challenges employees are encountering with these new ways of working?

Thomas: Even though we appreciate the benefits of a hybrid work policy, we also feel that spending more time in the office again has had numerous benefits for our collaboration. It is important to have a sense of belonging, and it is easier to establish and to maintain this feeling when you meet in person. So, finding a good balance in how we want to work together is key for us as a company.

Trust & responsibility

Thomas Steininger and Beate Vollmond G+D
Thomas Steininger, Director – Head of Global Talent Management & Leadership Development, G+D (left), and Beate Vollmond, Director – Head of HR Engage & Reward, G+D (right)

How has the relationship between employees and management changed as the new hybrid work models have become the norm?

Beate: One important change that has emerged as more people have started to work remotely is that trust between employees and leaders has taken on new significance. For some leaders, at least, it has been a very important lesson to realize that “my people can work without me looking over their shoulders.”

But this is a two-way street. When employees can no longer see what their leaders are doing all day, they also need to trust that their leaders are focused on the same goals. So there now needs to be that two-way transparency.

A key aspect of that is empowerment: employees now want to be more empowered within the scope of their roles. When we surveyed employees in summer 2021, we found that 89% said they were ready to take decisions within their field of responsibility – and to take responsibility for those decisions. Of course, there will always be decisions that need to be taken by a leader, but in employees’ day-to-day activities, greater empowerment is something we have to look at.

New skills & mindsets

What skills do employees need to build up in order to thrive in these new surroundings?

Thomas: In general, roles and skill requirements are changing very quickly. So, defining and focusing only on specific skillsets that need to be built up has become pointless for most roles. However, an open mindset towards change, transformation, and lifelong learning has become increasingly important. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to be more open to change, to trying out new things, to adopting a growth mindset. You need the kind of mindset that says, “I am willing and able – and feel empowered – to constantly learn, and to develop myself and therefore help transform the entire company.”

Inspiration for change

Why is it so important for companies to embrace change in working environments and culture, and what is inspiring that need for change?

Beate: Every company today is having to react to a highly disruptive business environment – cost pressures, competitive pressures, performance pressures, pressure to innovate. And to respond to all of those pressures, we need to attract the best people ­– to retain them and develop them. That is the only way we upscale the skillset of tomorrow. To do this, we invest a lot of time, effort, and money in various development activities, including global talent programs.

Thomas: To attract and retain people in the current environment of skills shortages, you need to offer interesting opportunities across all areas of the business and make them visible to everyone. For example, in some parts of G+D the focus on new technology is clear – especially to younger employees. But we also have to convey the fact that the more traditional parts of the company are also a hive of technology-driven innovation, with a long future where younger people can thrive and establish exciting careers. We also see that traditional career pathing makes no sense in our fast-moving and changing environment anymore. Therefore, both managers and HR leaders must be flexible about role design in order to provide opportunities for employees to experience many career options and trajectories.

Desk with laptop in a green forest.

Hybrid world of work

What hybrid work practices have you adopted at G+D?

Thomas: We do have one overarching approach for office workers within our Germany operations that provides flexibility. Various combinations of remote or office working are possible, as long as the employee and manager agree. That doesn’t necessarily apply to non-office workers, of course, or to our operations in other areas around the globe.

We differ from other companies in Germany, in that we don’t have quotas that stipulate how many days you have to be in the office. It has to be balanced, of course, and agreed on with your manager, but that balance might mean someone is spending this week in the office and all of next week at home.

Beate: As Thomas mentioned, hybrid work is not possible for all our workforce, e.g. our non-office workers. The opportunity to work hybrid is a privilege that our employees appreciate, especially towards those who don’t have it. We should foster an attitude that moves “from ME to WE.”

So, have you changed the physical structure of work to accommodate new modes of collaboration?

Beate: As part of our new approaches, we’ve adapted the physical work environment. Our Flex Office approach to desk sharing is one aspect, but we’ve also created lounge areas in the office where people can work together, collaborate, share creative ideas, play, and socialize. Some are themed as work lounges, others are more sports focused, where people sit at desk bikes or play table football, so people can meet, chat, relax, and then go back to work again.

Advantages of "new way of work" models

What positive benefits have come about from these new ways of working that employees have appreciated the most?

Beate: With our New Work project at our Munich location, we had some important and popular changes from an employee perspective. One is Silent Wednesday Mornings. It was based on the realization that constant multitasking is intrinsically bad practice – and there are many studies that show that. We wanted to help a lot of people to get out of “meeting marathons.”

So, we created a period from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. when there are no regular meetings, no required phone calls, no multitasking. Just time to focus.

About the G+D Contributors

  • Beate Vollmond, Director – Head of HR Engage & Reward, G+D
  • Thomas Steininger, Director – Head of Global Talent Management & Leadership Development, G+D


Published: 21/03/2023

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