If the past few years have taught us anything, the most important lesson for HR pros to remember might be there’s no predicting what’s to come. Between COVID-19, economic uncertainty and labor shortages, planning for anything is proving to be more difficult as the future of work remains uncertain.
However, the changes over the past few years have also encouraged innovation and spurred experimentation such as the four-day workweek. Whether experiments are successful or not, they can help you understand what your workforce really needs and tailor the employee experience to the unique needs of your workforce.
Focusing on and trying out new ideas can create the best employee experience and boost engagement by curating a workforce that works for your employees.
“To succeed you need to stay agile, flexible and adaptable because we never know what challenges will crop up next,” says founder and CEO of Bundle, Kayla Lebovits. “Having this mindset [allows you] to research and implement new ways of managing people, work and services that will better prepare [your] workforce for the future.”
One of the biggest hurdles to experimentation is fear of failure. It may seem tempting to try to implement experiments that have been successful for other companies, but this can end up in wasted time and energy if the experiment isn’t beneficial for your workforce.
“It can be counterproductive to simply copy one company’s solution and paste it directly into your team,” says Lebovits. “Listening to your team and understanding their needs is really important.” Instead, you may try adapting innovations from other companies and making them work to fit your employees’ needs.
Ideas to kickstart experimentation in 2023
To start experimenting with different innovations, consider these five experimentation ideas from Lebovits.
The six people meeting policy. Bundle has a rule of six for virtual meetings, which limits participants for internal daily interactions. “The rule forces everyone to be more thoughtful and deliberate with who they include and be mindful of those participants and their time,” says Lebovits. ”It has really helped us maximize our time, prevent virtual meeting fatigue, and make employees feel heard and valued. It also offers opportunities for people to be more candid and have more open rich discussions.”
Could this meeting be an email? We’re all guilty of coming out of a meeting and thinking that it could have been a simple email – and Lebovits is taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen. “Before scheduling a meeting, we empower our people to make sure that the discussion will lead to a decision, advance ideas or efforts, or accomplish a goal,” says Lebovits. “Sanity checking that the meeting information can’t just be communicated in an email saves us time and energy … and meeting fatigue.”
I-Time. Lebovits suggests allowing employees to dedicate up to four hours a month to research and explore innovative solutions to problems. “Innovation time offers employees time to think about out-of-the-box ideas and work on solutions to problems in any business area of the company,” says Lebovits. “The focus does not need to be in the area of their job responsibility necessarily but should focus on solving a real challenge they are interested in. Employees should embrace a fail-fast mindset, leaning into learning and trying different solutions.”
Meeting Need Check. What’s worse than a meeting that could’ve been an email? A meeting that could’ve been avoided altogether. To combat this, Lebovits suggests assessing recurring meetings based on need. At Bundle, the owner of the recurring meeting is responsible for polling meeting attendees to determine the needs and goals of upcoming meetings. If nothing comes up, the meeting is canceled. “This saves us a lot of time and gives people back space to work or take a break,” says Lebovits.
Power hours. “Our culture committee hosts the sessions and sends out communications where people can come together in a virtual space to work or chat together in a shared digital space – the new version of a water cooler moment,” says Lebovits. “The leadership team even joins in when possible to promote the sessions and let our teams see that we care about getting to know our people. It’s great for building relationships, connecting with new people, fostering collaboration, and encouraging information sharing.”
Although everyone wants new innovations to be hugely beneficial for companies, that’s not always the case. The beauty of experimentation is that whether it works or not, it’s a lesson that HR can take away from and build upon to continue building an employee-first experience.