Directors: How to Engage a Diverse & NextGen Workforce & Workplace with WCD Global Institute

It’s no secret that across all demographics, flexibility is a top driver for employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. In fact, a recent Korn Ferry survey found 72% of workers would choose jobs with a lower salary if those jobs offered flexibility. Following the pandemic’s crisis-driven shift to flexible work, employees know they can be productive and successful when working outside of the traditional model, and they don’t want to give it up. Especially the next-generation workforce.

Those younger employees were top of mind at the recent Women Corporate Directors Foundation’s Global Institute 2023 where I joined C-suite executives who are also board directors for a dynamic panel discussion on “Engaging a Diverse & NextGen Workforce & Workplace.”

We discussed how, as business leaders and boards closely evaluate their workplace needs, their goal is to ensure that a diverse, engaged, and productive workforce is in place today and for the future. That will require reimagining how work is done. My panel partners echoed that flexibility is the number one expectation for talent in their organizations, and boards will play a key role in making sure the evolution of work considers the needs of the business and employees.

It’s interesting that historically organizations have looked to their Directors for their experience leading through challenge and change, but with flexibility, few will be able to draw on past experiences. This is one area where directors need to learn while checking their perceptions and beliefs about how work should be done in order to guide and inform.

Aim to make operating with intention across workplaces, spaces, and time how EVERYONE works.  So, millennials aren’t viewed as “not wanting to work hard.” So, women and people of color aren’t given “career penalties” for wanting the work+life fit that meets their needs. And boomers see working flexibly as an option besides retiring full-time.

Yes, we have to close the gaps between employee and management expectations – the clash of contexts I speak about so often. Yes, work is messy right now after COVID’s historic disruption. (Let’s remember, though, work wasn’t always perfect pre-pandemic, either.) But we have to meet the moment now with an equally disruptive but thoughtful, strategic and purposeful rethinking of work and how, when, and where it can be done.

The gaps may feel insurmountable, but the consensus was that Directors must play an important role in driving positive, sustainable change in the coming months and years. Important conversations such as those we had at the WCD Global Institute will help pave the way.

Are you a director, or does your board need help understanding what strategic work flexibility is, why it matters, how its executed effectively, and how they play a role in success? If the answer is “yes,” let’s connect and talk about how we can facilitate a discussion that will prepare you and them to lead effectively from the Boardroom.

For my friends in the U.S., hopefully, you had some time off over July 4th for some rest and relaxation. I know I needed it!  We hit the beach.  Here’s the view from an early morning walk. Magic.