Shadow Board: Pandemic inspired changes
COVID-19 crisis showed us the fragilities of our society and our humanity. This virus highlighted how quickly our activities can be completely disrupted. During more than a year, we lost our basic foundation: the human connection. While digital transformation has been a good support for any organization to survive, it is still not replacing a face-to-face meeting or the coffee machine in the cafeteria alias the gossip’s place.
The pandemic pushed us to revisit our fundamental “why” in our professional day-to-day activities. Some of you shifted to a new industry to learn new ways of working, applied to a completely new job, or joined a new company with values closer to yours.
Indeed, 55% of Americans expect to look for a new job in the upcoming twelve months according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey.
“Pandemic-inspired changes, including the ability to work remotely and/or from home, have transformed mindsets and expectations for many workers.” Mark Hamrick, Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst and Washington Bureau Chief
Employees are now looking to other expectations: more flexibility in the work schedule, better work-life balance, home working possibility and more empathy from managers.
More than ever, companies will need to increase their employee engagement rate. In a market with many uncertainties due to the pandemic, employees are willing to start something new as the crisis challenged their values, development plans and believes. Daniel, Nick, Jon and Ashley created the Employee Engagement Checklist.
“However, as we found in a follow-up study involving 302 managers, leaders are often not aware of what is most important for driving employee engagement. The levers leaders think are most important do not correspond to what is actually most important. The mismatch between what leaders think their employees need versus what they actually need is further evidence that practitioners require guidance on what will work most effectively to engage their employees.” Daniel Stein, Nick Hobson, Jon M. Jachimowicz, and Ashley Whillans
Their findings highlighted three important levers to increase employee engagement:
- Help employees to connect with what they care about;
- Make the work environment less stressful and more enjoyable;
- Reward employees with additional time-off.
Young workers and executives: hands-in-hands
Young graduated students in 2020 have started a new job without seeing any colleague in person. Onboarding has been done most of the time remotely. It disconnected them from the ground operational reality. This didn’t help the integration to a team, a culture, a purpose, a company. Disengagement of younger workers and the inability of the executive team to keep up with rapid changing market conditions are two issues that companies are currently facing.
Shadow board seems a solution that worked for Prada and Gucci. The principle is very simple: having a group of young talented employees working with senior executives on strategic initiatives. It’s a win-win situation. Retail companies have not the only one with successful implementation of shadow board. Shadow board can support in many aspects, and we will share few examples of business model transformation, process redesign and cultural transformation.
In 2018, AirBnB revisited a business model and launched a new marketing approach thanks to a shadow board.
Stora Enso company used a shadow board to revise how executive members assigned works to employees. The shadow board suggested to include non-experts in projects to have an unbiased view to increase the chance of breakthrough. It led to the creation of a new team for a project to reduce the lead time in supply chain. The new team shared a workable plan within a six months’ timeframe.
GroupM India implemented a three-year digital and cultural transformation. Shadow board increased connections between management and low-level employees across agencies through the development of Yammer. The board also strengthened the partnership with media owners, consultants, data providers, auditors and start-ups.
Shadow board also helped employees to be more visible. After being a member of a shadow board, it could help you to be promoted to a more senior position.
At Stora Enso, a female shadow board member was a group-level financial controller when she began the program. As a result of her impressive work on a project involving one of their legacy businesses (paper), she was promoted to be the sales director of the largest paper segment a few months after the program’s end. As HR director Lars Haggstrom stated, “This [promotion] would never have happened had it not been for the shadow board program.” Jennifer Jordan and Michael Sorell
And you, what did you change in your private or professional life thanks to the pandemic?
As a manager, what initiatives did you take to increase employee engagement?
Article by Kevin MISSAULT (Alumni MSG 2021)