Invest the time to understand me as a person, including my passions, interests, desires, and needs both in and out of work.
By Lauren Noël and Christie Hunter Arscott
The early career women we interviewed want their organizations to invest the time to understand them as a person, including their passions, interests, desires, and needs both in and out of work. In our research, 94% of young women stated that it was important for their employers to recognize that they are unique and whole individuals (not ‘just employees’) with interests outside of work.
Leading companies are embracing this philosophy of ‘employees as people’ by adopting the following practices:
RECOGNIZE THAT PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED HOW THEY LIVE AND WORK
The millennial generation is calling for shifts in how work and life are integrated. In today’s environment enabled by technology, early career women and men are increasingly defining work as an activity not constrained by time or place. HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing company, recognizes that a great culture helps people produce their best work and attracts top talent to the company. Thus, rather than fighting the needs of this new generation, HubSpot embraces these changes and is creating a culture where all talent thrives. HubSpot’s Culture Code, which has been viewed online by more than 1.5 million people, highlights the shifts taking place. In the category of ‘Hours’, the Culture Code states that hours used to be ‘9-5’ but now are ‘whenever’. In the category of ‘Location’ or place, the Culture Code states that old ways of working limited this to the ‘office’ but now work location is ‘wherever’. As Katie Burke, Vice President of Culture and Experience, stated: “At HubSpot the idea is to optimize work around your life, not the other way around.”
EXTEND FLEXIBILITY TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
Early career women are calling for changes in flexibility policies and programs. Rather than having flexibility as a benefit only afforded to those with children or family demands, the millennial generation is seeking organizations where flexibility is extended to as many people as possible, regardless of parental status. For organizational leaders, one key to executing an effective flexibility strategy is keeping in mind that results matter more than where and when those results are produced. When adopting this mindset, leaders are working to move their organizations from ‘presence driven’ cultures to ‘results driven’ cultures. As an early career woman at HubSpot explained, “the key question is, ‘are you making progress on the things that matter?’” HubSpot’s flexibility policy boils down to three words: “use good judgment.” In practice, this means that employees work it out with their teams to work the hours and in the location where they can best produce results.
GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE TO RECHARGE
Some companies are taking steps to give all employees a chance to recharge. For example, employees who have been at HubSpot for five years qualify for a sabbatical. When a HubSpotter “turns five,” they get full pay to take a four week sabbatical. What’s more, they receive a separate sabbatical check for US$5,000. There are no restrictions on the sabbatical. The idea is to do whatever would enable you to recharge for four weeks—work on your novel, take a family vacation, or pursue whatever passion you may have. Likewise, eBay has a sabbatical program where after five years of employment, employees receive a month of paid leave to pursue anything they would like to do.
Overall, our conversations with emerging women leaders revealed that they are a highly ambitious and passionate group, both in and out of work. They want their organizations to view them as people first by focusing on results rather than presence, providing flexibility (beyond traditional parental benefits) and offering customized ways that they can recharge. In return, these women will dive into their jobs with zeal and be able to optimize both their work and their lives.