Navigating work trends with HR experts

How understanding employees' views on work culture can create thriving organizations.

By Sara Alvarez Kleinsmith, thought leadership, Dell Technologies

If you’re curious about the latest trends in working, ask employees. The Breakthrough study by Dell Technologies polled 10,500 workers from 40 locations worldwide, providing enlightening statistics on what employees are experiencing today.

Meghan Biro, founder of Talent Culture and host of the #Worktrends Podcast, recently sat down with Dell’s chief human resources officer Jenn Saavedra to discuss work trends and the Breakthrough study. This interview led to a lively conversation on Twitter about work trends, with users typing in their best advice and observations on a variety of topics.

From work-life balance to inclusion and empathy to better remote leadership, insights from leaders across the Twitterverse produced an enlightening dialogue. Saavedra and Biro’s podcast episode addressed why the Breakthrough study is a pivotal tool for any organization. Below are just a few highlights.

The barriers to breaking through

Tweet from Meghan Biro as part of Twitter #worktrends live chat

When polled through an employee engagement survey, 86% of Dell team members said they feel that Dell is leading the way in flexible and remote working options. The change was not brought on by the pandemic, as hybrid options have been a part of working life at Dell for over a decade. Saavedra pointed out that the normalization of remote work globally presents advantages and opportunities for better work patterns and enhanced productivity.

Finding synchronicity across time zones, secure and reliable connection and a sense of common purpose are all challenges modern workers face. And although many are able to work in more flexible conditions, work-life balance continues to be a struggle.

“One of the areas that comes up is mental health and well-being,” said Saavedra. “While we erased commute times, there are more meetings than ever. And the boundaries get blurred.” According to the Breakthrough study, 58% are not experiencing greater work-life balance, and 41% report feeling a sense of burnout.

The ABCs of a people-centered philosophy

When asked about Dell’s human resources approach to these challenges, Saavedra mentioned the “ABCD” approach to Dell’s people philosophy:

  • A is for achievement—The Breakthrough study revealed that only 37% of workers polled report having mentally stimulating work. This can lead to a lack of motivation. According to Saavedra, “That can make for really long days.” Helping employees find purpose in work and reduce repetitive tasks may improve morale, retention and productivity. Saavedra says artificial intelligence and automation may create a gateway for this, inspiring employees to learn new skills working with new technology that can increase productivity while reducing repetitive tasks.
  • B is for balance—The work-life balance component can be aided with awareness on the part of leadership, empathy and clear communication. Dell Technologies’ Chief Product Officer Brooke Huling and Chief Information Officer Jen Felch provided useful tips for leaders to create balance within teams at a LinkedIn Live event. Their suggestions include boundary setting around response and availability times and setting employees up with the systems they need to succeed.
  • C is for connection—Saavedra says that changes in global work are creating a need for greater connection on a macrolevel. Workers are looking for help  creating connections. “It’s less about those strong, day-to-day connections you have with your team. It’s more about those broad network relationships. How do we as a company help broker those broader connections? We have to be willing to experiment with new things.”
  • D is for diversity and inclusion—Saavedra points out that diversity and inclusion are keys to long-term success for companies and that “no one approach fits all.” Inclusion applies to myriad differences across employees. From identity to varying lived experiences and different learning styles, it’s a core belief at Dell that inclusion is central to innovation.

How to close the skills gap and foster a culture of collaboration

Jenn Saavedra, chief human resources officer, Dell Technologies

Biro asked Saavedra what key pieces of advice she’d offer to other brands or people asking for help when it comes to upskilling. Her advice?

  1. “Remain curious, learn new skills through formal training, take opportunities to learn on the job, take on new roles and move laterally. Leaders must also help their people navigate into the future.”
  2. “Empathy is key. You’re not going to be your best and do your best work if you don’t feel like someone understands who you are and what you’re navigating. From a leadership perspective, it’s about taking the time to understand others’ points of view. According to the study, 83% say that leaders overlook different perspectives. Everything starts based on empathy and trust.”
  3. “Lead from the top. Be an example of collaboration. Give people the opportunity to contribute. Make sure there’s a shared purpose among team members. All of these things start to shift this culture and mindset to best serve the customers, community and company.”

The work trends chat that occurred on Twitter and the Breakthrough study make it clear that many employees are sharing the same sentiments when it comes to modern work life. Organizations and leaders would do well to take Saavedra’s advice for listening, remaining curious, and prioritizing empathy in a world of rapid technological change. “Everyone wants to thrive; they just need to know that their leaders and their company are going to be there to support them.”

Click below to listen to the full episode of the #Worktrends Podcast