When I started at Pragmatic Institute two years ago, everything was changing. And, it was exciting to think about all the ways we could innovate to increase employee retention.
But then in 2020, shortly after my start date, the world stopped and everyone was thinking differently about what makes people love their work. Innovation was no longer a conversation about a competitive edge and marginal improvements when it comes to hiring and keeping the best talent. Now, it was about adapting to survive a deeply uncertain environment.
The pandemic coupled with the great resignation has left human resource professionals scrambling to rethink how to compete when it comes to benefits, perks, and pay.
And, here are the seven key ways Pragmatic Institute is working hard to retain employees:
1. Flexibility and Remote Working
There was something we learned in 2020 that we can’t unlearn, and that’s that people can be perfectly productive working from home. Even ten years ago, there was a gap in technology that made remote working challenging or impossible.
Of course, this isn’t true in every industry or at every company, but the organizations who choose not to offer remote-working capabilities should have a good reason. If the reason for working from the office is “how it’s always been done” or “we simply like to have people in person,” then you’re at risk of having your best talent poached.
Why do people like working from home? It’s not because they are lazy and don’t want to be forced to do work in an office. Actually, we’ve found it to be quite the opposite. People have the ability to build the most productive work environment for themselves.
They invest hours they would have spent commuting into doing other things they love like spending time with friends and family or enjoying leisure time. They can also take care of sick family kids (or remote-learning kids) without having to use a sick day.
2. Vacation and Sick Time
We’ve stopped thinking about vacation and sick time as entirely separate. Instead, at Pragmatic Institute, we simply have “paid time off.” You can use a “sick day” or “vacation.” Either way, it’s approved if the hours are available.
In 2022, we’ve also added two floating holidays for people to utilize for any recognized holiday (and birthdays).
What we noticed is people can feel uncomfortable taking time off. So, we’ve designed a “use it or lose it” vacation policy, which motivates employees to spend time away from the office for a couple of weeks (or longer) every year.
Vacation time is an investment with an impressive ROI. Time away from the office correlates with increased productivity, better health, more creativity and reduced stress.
By its nature, remote working is typically flexible. But, beyond location-flexibility, we like to offer time-flexibility as well.
People work better on schedules that make sense for their life. Some of our employees start their workday earlier or later simply because that’s optimal for their individual productive rhythm.
Now, employees can customize their workday to achieve more rather than having to fit their style to a standardized 9-5 schedule.
Our flexibility is a huge benefit to anyone who is a caretaker to a parent or a child. It’s easier to work in doctors’ appointments, transportation for childcare or school and the occasional remote-learning situations.
4. Work-Life Balance
There has been a significant shift in how people approach integrating work into their life. Our vacation policies incentivize employees to take time off. More importantly, our leaders promote the benefit of stepping away from work and fully engaging in personal lives outside of the office.
We want employees to know that quality time with friends and family is a priority for the company, so between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, we have a holiday break as an organization to rest and enjoy special time away.
5. Company Culture
One of the biggest arguments for working in an office is company culture. But, we’d argue that company culture can be built without a building. We bring everyone in the organization together every week (virtually) to celebrate and acknowledge accomplishments and welcome new team members. This gives us a brief moment to connect.
Our New Hires department even sends out a welcome box to recently hired team members, which includes an eclectic assortment of items from everyone in the company. It’s a uniquely tangible way to get to know everyone even from a distance.
Each employee submits an item to the welcome box with a simple message about why they chose that item. This small activity creates a thriving, team-centric culture from day one.
Departments also celebrate accomplishments in different ways including virtual games, group lunches and special parties. We might be geographically far away from each other, but we have no problem working closely.
6. Training and Development
Second only to pay and benefits, employees want training and development. HR invests a lot of time thinking about how to answer the question, “What’s next?” Because employees want a clear path forward. They want to improve their skills and see progress in their careers.
We encourage all of our employees to take any or all of the Pragmatic courses free of charge. We also invest in additional training opportunities to help employees further their skills.
In addition, training for managers means they’re better at working with their team. And, great managers are the secret ingredient for keeping (and attracting) top talent.
I get it. Investing in training is hard. Sure, you might have the budget, but how do you spend it? I’ve asked that question many times in my career, and there is never an easy answer.
Also, training doesn’t have the looming unmovable deadline like payroll and hiring. So, I too have been the HR professional who wants to incorporate more training but was too focused on the many important tasks right in front of me. It’s hard to pick my head up and look weeks into the future and organize training events.
That’s one of the reasons Pragmatic Institute strives to be a training partner. It’s not a “one-and-done training experience;” it’s a lifetime free and paid training opportunity for your staff.
Our company relieves some of the tension between wanting to offer more training opportunities and having the time to find valuable and useful courses and events.
The best part is our course offerings are always expanding and updating. In fact, we’ve launched two new courses, Insight and Data Science for Business Leaders, and updated our Market course, in the first month of 2022.
Market is a course that will help product professionals better understand buyers and build the product marketing strategies that deliver results >> learn more.
Insight provides product professionals with a grounded and actionable approach to incorporating data into product practices and decisions >> learn more.
Data Science for Business Leaders teaches how to partner with data professionals to uncover business value, make informed decisions and solve problems >> learn more