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18th Oct 2023

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The 4 Alarm Bells Leaders are Ignoring: Insights from Bruce Daisley’s IMI National Leadership Conference Keynote

At the IMI National Leadership Conference, author and former Twitter VP, Bruce Daisley delivered a captivating keynote, filled with humour, insights, and a deep dive into the nuances of workplace culture. Daisley, well-known for his senior leadership role at Twitter and his passion for improving the workplace, shared valuable information that left attendees pondering the way they approach work.

The Power of Workplace Culture

Daisley kicked off his keynote with a light-hearted anecdote, joking about not being fired from Twitter by Elon Musk! This set the tone for an engaging and insightful discussion on the significance of workplace culture. According to Daisley, the magic of a truly powerful workplace culture can transform the way we work and interact.

Daisley introduced Google’s 70/20/10 policy, which encourages employees to spend 70% of their time on their job description, 20% on projects agreed upon with their boss, and the remaining 10% on whatever they desire, without needing to inform anyone. However, Daisley amusingly noted that once he was at Google, no one mentioned this policy again. It raises the question of whether such policies are merely buzzwords or if they are actually implemented.

Rethinking Work

Daisley explored the concept of a four-day workweek and its impact on workplace connections. He observed that when people work shorter and more focused weeks, there appears to be a decrease in interpersonal connections.

In a world where many of us spend half our workweek in meetings, Daisley questioned the efficiency of such gatherings. He suggested the use of bots to attend meetings for information gathering, potentially reducing the 20 hours a week many people currently spend in meetings. This concept opens up the possibility of significant cultural changes in how we collaborate. It’s important to remember that things we used to see as a given (like meetings and calendars) won’t necessarily be as important in the future.

Daisley delved into the concept of productivity and the anxiety many people feel about not accomplishing enough. He raised concerns about declining work productivity, especially in the face of large companies like Apple and Google calling employees back to the office. He also shared Microsoft’s data, revealing varying opinions about productivity between employees and their bosses. While the majority of employees believe that they are more productive at home, this opinion isn’t necessarily shared by their colleagues and employers.

The Impact of Workplace Culture on Retention

Drawing attention to the rising rate of resignations in recent years, Daisley emphasized the importance of workplace culture in retaining employees. He noted that companies with strong cultures tend to keep their employees longer, highlighting the connection between productivity and turnover rates.

Daisley discussed the remote work debate from a diversity and inclusion perspective. He highlighted that remote work can benefit certain demographics, such as people of colour and younger women, who may experience fewer microaggressions and have more freedom in their behaviour. This revelation underscores the need to consider the diverse experiences of employees when making decisions about returning to the office.

Daisley touched upon the alarming issue of stress in the workplace. Citing a survey, he revealed that 42% of Irish workers experience high levels of daily stress, leading to conflicts between employees and managers. Burnout is often attributed to factors like unfair treatment, unmanageable workloads, unclear communication, and lack of support.

The Changing Nature of Work

Daisley noted that workplace culture is undergoing a transformation, becoming more semi-detached and resembling the relationship we have with college rather than school. A crucial element in employee engagement, according to Daisley, is having a friend at work. Having a friend at work creates a sense of belonging and visibility. It’s a factor that is easily overlooked in large workplaces and it might not seem important to employers, but it’s a get element of workplace retention.

In the final segment of his keynote, Daisley emphasized the importance of shared joy and culture in the workplace. He highlighted the connection between health and the number of social groups to which people belong, suggesting that fostering a sense of “we” is the key to a thriving workplace culture. After all, people really start to demonstrate resilience when they feel like “we’re all in it together”. Great cultures come from people being around each other and collaborating, so when we start to think “we” rather than “me”, that’s when we’ll start to see the real impacts of a great workplace culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Google’s 70/20/10 policy?
Google suggests that employees should spend 70% of their time on their job description, 20% on projects agreed with their boss, and the other 10% on work that they are specifically interested in.

How can a four-day workweek impact workplace connections and culture?
The four-day workweek can have both positive and negative impacts on workplace culture. One example is that people tend to form less strong connections when they work a shorter, more focused week.

What are the benefits of using bots in meetings, and how can they change workplace collaboration?
Some office workers spend 20 hours per week in meetings. By sending a bot instead, employees are able to gain the insights from the meeting, while getting back some time to work on other priorities.

How does workplace culture affect employee retention, and what strategies can companies use to improve it?
Resilience is a major factor in employee retention, and resilience comes about when people feel like we are all in something together. People feeling like they have a friend at work is key in retaining employees.

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