Eric Handler headshot Written by: Eric Handler

Creating a mutually beneficial work environment

Nearly half of the workers in the U.S. are looking for a new job or planning to begin looking in the next year. We’ve entered a different reality of record-high job openings, low unemployment and workers having all of the leverage to demand what they need from an employer.

There’s a lot about what an employee wants and how to help meet those needs, but there’s still a job that needs to be done. Employers have needs as well.

Businesses aren’t charities, and leaders need to be able to turn and profit. They need employees who are qualified and capable of doing the job, who they like being around and interacting with daily, and who genuinely care about the work they are doing, the people they provide a service for, and who want to work for the company itself. 

How can we get back to a mutual feeling of respect?

Managers are feeling pressure to meet the demands of today’s employees. They are feeling the pressures the marketplace puts on them to meet the compensation demands, the demands for more flexibility and work-life balance. Employees want a manager that respects them and respects their time. And, in many cases, if your company isn’t ready to offer these things, employees are willing to walk.

However, these are not new developments, and not necessarily new demands. These are things employees have always advocated for. The main difference is that they now have more leverage to get what they want.

What can leaders do so that they can get back to this general feeling of mutual respect for the work they do together? 

  1. Embrace the new concept of a professional calendar: Flexibility is the top request of all employees. Leaders are going to have to embrace a professional’s ability to get the job done, no matter what his or her calendar looks like. But an employee has the responsibility to the business to make sure the work gets done. It’s that simple. You can work outside of the traditional 9-5, but that’s going to require each employee to understand their responsibilities and hit their benchmarks. This is something that benefits both the employee and employer—the job gets done and the employee gets the work environment they desire.  
Eric Handler having a meeting with his team
  1. Look beyond filling the “traditional” corporate role: Working “beyond the call of duty” is something that was expected by previous generations who went to work. This was a way to pay your dues and climb the corporate ladder. But this isn’t something that will work for the current labor force. Managers need to look beyond what was previously thought of as necessary for all corporate jobs and adopt more of a flexible work environment. This puts less stress on the employees and makes the job more enjoyable. When employees are happy, that happiness shows in the work they deliver. It’s a win-win for your organization.
  2. We can no longer tolerate a disrespectful manager: A leader who is disrespectful of his or her employees’ time can’t be tolerated anymore. Today’s workforce needs managers who are willing to work with you—both by physically stepping in to help you get the job done, being flexible with your schedule, and giving you enough trust to get the job done without having to be micromanaged. So, it might require you as a leader to get your hands dirty, but it will ultimately pay off in the long run with the respect you’ll gain from your employees. 

The hiring landscape of the past few years has changed significantly, but there’s no reason it can’t still benefit both the leader of a company and their employees. It’s just going to require a little bit of added effort.