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Today’s Leaders Risk Falling Behind Without Necessary Skills for Managing a Hybrid Workforce

PRESS RELEASE: Paid content from PR Newswire
Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.
December 19, 2022 GMT
(PRNewsfoto/The Conference Board)
(PRNewsfoto/The Conference Board)

NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report from The Conference Board in partnership with Udemy Business, The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and ROI Institute, explores the leadership skills needed to successfully manage hybrid teams and how organizations can adapt their leadership development practices to prepare leaders for any type of working environment.

High-touch skills development is critical as the pandemic has permanently changed not just how work gets done, but where it gets done. In fact, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, the number of people primarily working from home between 2019 and 2021 tripled from 9 million to nearly 28 million people. As a result, ways of working now run the gamut from fully remote to fully onsite with a plethora of hybrid arrangements in between. However, with this newfound flexibility also comes unique challenges—especially for leaders––as they seek to continue managing their teams effectively amidst a constantly evolving, new-age work model.

The findings of this report are based on a series of working groups which took place between mid-August and late September, including CHROs, Chief Talent Officers, Chief DEI Officers, and other learning leaders across more than 30 organizations. Running in parallel to these working groups, more than 100 early-career leaders from these organizations were invited to participate in a six-week virtual leadership development program hosted by Udemy, Leading in a Hybrid Work Environment, with data collected on the perceived effectiveness of that program.

Key findings from these studies revealed that:

Hybrid work doesn’t fundamentally change what’s required to be an effective leader, but some skills are rising in importance to successfully manage hybrid teams.

  • Leaders need to communicate with empathy and compassion, build trust, and create a culture that encourages employees to share challenges and ask for support.
  • Leaders should have regular check-ins with their employees that specifically address employee concerns and offer timely performance feedback.
  • Leaders need to support flexible and inclusive practices to mitigate isolation, improve retention, and bolster overall performance.
  • Leaders should successfully leverage technology to engage, connect, and collaborate with team members.

“As today’s workforce continues its shift towards a hybrid-preferred model, it’s critical that leaders adjust their management styles to meet the new demands required for employees to keep doing their best work whether they chose to do it at home or in an office,” said Alan Todd, Vice President of Leadership Development at Udemy Business. “Additionally, with communication at the heart of the key skills required to keep employees engaged and productive, leaders must make it a priority to continually cement new habits and behaviors through online learning programs such as this one.”

Leadership skills developed in a virtual learning environment can deliver as high or higher returns than those of traditional, in-person leadership programs.

  • In a post-program survey, where participants were asked to rate the Leading in a Hybrid Work Environment curriculum, 90% of respondents said the program was effective or extremely effective in providing the ideal elements for a virtual leadership development program.
  • Additionally, 84% of participants said the virtual program was more effective than traditional, in-person programming.
  • Finally, those who participated in the program said their perceived improvement in the six skill areas addressed during the program rose by an average of 15%.

“Effective leadership has always been a crucial part of a positive employee experience, an inclusive and engaging environment, and a productive workforce,” said Rebecca Ray, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “That has not changed, even as the workplace has. But to truly thrive in this new world of work, a focus on developing hybrid work-specific skills in leaders will arm them with the tools they need to promote employee productivity and engagement. The ability to deliver effective leadership development in this new hybrid world of work at scale is critical.”

A successful leadership development program delivers behavior change, application of skills, and business impact.

  • Elements of a successful virtual learning approach include pertinent, quality content, an easy-to-use platform, ongoing coaching, an engaging learner experience, clear expectations set in partnership with a supervising manager, and collaborative conversations with colleagues.
  • Providing highly responsive, individualized, and structured support, including targeted, continual synchronous and asynchronous support is critical to success.
  • Program success also requires manager involvement before, during, and after the program, as supervising managers are critical to business alignment and enabling support while participants strive for proficiency with skills that matter most.
  • Participants who are actively engaged with their cohort are more likely to complete the program, report higher levels of skill mastery, and declare a higher commitment to continued development post-program.
  • Eighty-seven percent of participants completed the program, compared to an average online learning completion rate of 5% to 15%.

“Creating virtual learning that delivers results has never been as important as it is today, particularly programs that deliver leadership skills important to the hybrid work environment,” said Patti Phillips, Ph.D., CEO of ROI Institute. “Sadly, most virtual learning fails to do more than provide a positive experience for learners. This is changing. Virtual learning that delivers pertinent content, coaching, and collaboration, and the opportunity to apply skills learned, is the first step to delivering value that is truly meaningful to organizations and the people that make organizations successful.”

A semi-synchronous, virtual leadership development program can deliver demonstrable business impact.

  • More effective leadership can improve productivity, quality, safety, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction, among other business performance indicators.
  • Analysis reveals that for every dollar spent on this program, there is the potential of returning the dollar investment plus an additional $3.10.
  • Employee engagement was selected as the business measure in need of improvement by most participants (69%). Employee experience and productivity were the second and third most selected (47% and 42%, respectively).
  • At the end of the program, 68% of respondents indicated that improvement had occurred in their selected measures.

Download the report Effective Leadership in a Hybrid World of Work here.

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. The Conference Board Human Capital Center provides businesses with insights and expertise to attract, develop, and retain talent, as well as build strong cultures that empower employees and drive performance.

About Udemy Business

The mission of Udemy is to improve lives through learning by providing flexible, effective skill development to empower organizations and individuals. Udemy Business enables employers to offer on-demand learning for all employees, immersive learning for tech teams, and cohort learning for leaders. With our integrated learning solutions and strategic partnership, we equip companies with the tools to build a future-ready workforce, increase employee engagement and achieve critical business outcomes.

About The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Michigan Ross, is the business school of the University of Michigan. It is ranked among the best business schools in the world by The Economist, Financial Times, QS World University Rankings, U.S. News & World Report, and Bloomberg Businessweek. Michigan Ross creates innovative solutions to the world’s most complex business challenges.

About ROI Institute

ROI Institute, founded by Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D., and Patti P. Phillips, Ph.D., helps individuals and organizations evaluate program success. They do this by providing workshops, consulting, coaching, briefings, keynote presentations, publications and research, and benchmarking services. ROI Institute’s mission is to develop, refine, and support the use of the ROI Methodology® in all types of applications and settings by building capability in individuals who become Certified ROI Professionals®. In short, ROI Institute helps individuals and organizations show the value of what they do. ROI Institute operates in over 70 countries serving business, nonprofit, government, nongovernmental organizations, educational institutions, and associations.

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SOURCE The Conference Board