Here’s the Latest WE:Brief – WE keep you in the know – November 2021!

Deciding how many employees to include in a transformation shouldn’t be a guessing game. Here’s how to know.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

New research from McKinsey shows successful transformations need a minimum participation of 7% of employees in the process. More is even better. Initiatives with 7-13% participation show double the returns (as measured by total return to shareholders) of those with lower participation. Those with 21-30% employee participation were nearly four times as successful. 


“…you are going to be just as likely, if not more likely, to encounter problems with mental-health and wellness issues as people come back into the workplace as you are to encounter problems with COVID-19. That’s just a fact.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

In this McKinsey interview the former U.S. Surgeon General and former president of Mental Health America warn leaders to be prepared for the fact that nearly half of employees expect the return to office to be stressful. It suggests that employers need to focus on making their people feel safe and accommodate their need to care for their families.


“Congress proposed 12 weeks. The Democrats have cut their plan to 4 weeks.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

I don’t want to get political here, but even if the original 12 weeks that was proposed by Republicans was approved, the U.S. parental leave policy would still offer less than half the global average of 29 weeks. 


Interruptions are considered inherently bad. But it’s actually a bit more complicated.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

A paper published by the Journal of Management, “To What Do I Owe This Visit? The Drawbacks and Benefits of In-Role and Non-Role Intrusions,” describes new research that indicates interruptions that are relevant to work, actually increase employee engagement. Small talk, sports talk, and details about what you had for dinner were just annoying.


Remote work can be as effective as in-person work with the right people and collaborative processes.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

An MIT team studied the “collective intelligence” of over 1,300 teams comprised of 5,000 individuals. What they found was that teams could perform equally whether they were remote/hybrid or face to face provided that:

1) They figure out which member is the best at different tasks and have that person take the lead on it; and, that members coordinate their efforts so that they cover all of the different tasks

2) The teams included people with good social skills; particularly social perceptiveness—the ability to pick up on non-verbal cues

I vote we start using science rather than cognitive bias to guide management decisions.


“Fear of losing their innovative edge pushes many leaders to reject hybrid and virtual work arrangements. Yet extensive research shows that hybrid and remote teams can gain an innovation advantage and outcompete in-person teams by adopting best practices for innovation, such as virtual brainstorming.”

Kate Lister‘s insight:

The basic problem with face-to-face brainstorming is that it not all participants will participate equally. If introverts, neuro-diverse or pessimist are involved it’s likely a new ideas will be missed. The article, which cites research to back up its claims, suggests trying to replicate traditional brainstorming techniques over video exacerbates the problem. Instead, the author describes an asynchronous process that has been proven to produce superior results. 


Workplace culture remains the beating heart of every organisation. Leading move and change management company MovePlan recently surveyednearly 1,200 working professionals and found that 45% ranked ‘team, people and culture’ as their top priority when looking for new jobs, followed by flexible working policies (39%).  Business leaders need to come to terms with how critical it is to create a workplace of choice for their employees. This is the era of the employees, but bosses need to lead the way.



Conversations about a shorter workweek are happening in some surprising places. Here’s what’s happening, country by country.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

If you’re tuned into workplace news, you’ve no doubt seen a lot about the 4-day workweek trend. This article by Atlassian, who actually has adopted this strategy, offers the skinny on what’s really going on out there. Spoiler alert #1: Not much. Spoiler alert #2: This is another one of those terms that means different things to different people. In particular, regarding whether it means four 10 hour days or 8 hour days and, if the latter, whether it involves a pay cut. 


“…when you’re facilitating a hybrid meeting … you need additional strategies to keep everyone engaged and the meeting on track.”

Kate Lister‘s insight:

The author of the article, who teaches leadership at both Wharton and Columbia business schools, points to 5 biases that often hijack hybrid meetings:

– Proximity bias – preferring people who are physically near

– Expedience bias – feeling, falsely, that being able to coming to a quick decision is important

– Closeness-Communication bias – assuming you know what people close to you are thinking

– Bike-shedding effect (yup, really) –  giving disproportionate attention to trivial matters

– Confirmation bias – the tendency to seek out and prefer information that confirms your beliefs

Thankfully, the author also offers strategies for overcoming these biases.


There’s a clear disconnect between why employers think their employees are leaving and the actual reasons behind employee exits.

Kate Lister‘s insight:

This graphic from McKinsey tells the story of the disconnect between employers’ perception of why people leave and why they really leave. 

More important to employees than employers think:

Being valued by their manager

Sense of belonging

Potential for advancement

Caring and trusting teammates

Flexible work schedule

Less important than employers think:


Looking for a better job

Development opportunities

Ability to work remotely

Being poached by another company

Hmm. Didn’t Maslow and Herzberg nail this half a century ago? 


“The team environment—where most day-to-day interactions at work occur—can make or break progress in inclusion efforts. Line managers have the crucial responsibility of creating an environment in which employees can be their full selves.”

Kate Lister‘s insight:

This BCG study of 16,000 employees in 16 countries show employees in inclusive environments are nearly twice as likely to have a good friend at work and 3 times more likely to report being happy at work. Workers who say they are unhappy at work are 4.6 times more likely to say they intend to leave their employer within six months. 


NEW YORK (AP) — After struggling to hire workers for its outlet store in Dallas, Balsam Hill finally opened on Sept. 1. But the very next day, the online purveyor of high-end artificial holiday trees was forced to close after four of its five workers quit. 

Kate Lister‘s insight:

We spend a lot of time talking about new ways of working for office workers, but what about the non-office workers? Retailers and restaurant owners are struggling to fill roles, particularly for the less desirable shifts. Extra pay isn’t enough. Some stores and restaurants have resorted to scaling back their open hours/days. Where will this lead? More retail automation? Self-serve restaurants? Robotics?


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Virtually Yours,

Kate Lister | President, Global Workplace Analytics 
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