Influencing The Organization Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

Influencing the Organization
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    A Disclaimer: I Believe That Humans Are Inherently Good 

    Doing the right thing may not be as easy to influence as one would think.  When it comes to creating that business case to support a change towards a more accessible workplace, it is essential to understand not only the colleague’s perspective but also the business impact and risk. 

    Over the years, I have been sharing the importance of access for all and advocating for accessible digital technologies in the learning & development and HR space.  Most of the time, people would react to me like I’m Charlie Brown’s teacher – WaWaWa. I found I was speaking in a language many people were not familiar with.  As the years went on, I felt like I was moving a boulder up the mountain by myself concerning the programs I wanted to put into place.  Why isn’t anyone taking notice?  Why don’t they hear what I am saying? A disclaimer: I believe humans are inherently good. 

    Did you hear the one about …? 

    Fast forward, I realized most people respond to a story of real-life experiences.  So, when I speak to others, I share the story of the tow-truck driver or the blind individual who can’t complete training, or so many others I’ve heard over the years. 

    I have found that relating to someone on that personal level can make more of an impact than statistics of risk and how to prevent lawsuits to how other companies are doing X, Y, or Z.  Influencing on topics that aren’t well understood is hard.  You won’t get it right the first, second, or third time.  It’s okay to keep advocating and trying.  So, you ask, how did you end up influencing accessibility conformance in your workplace. I’ll give you some tips that I learned the hard way.

    Is There A Mauraders Map for Influencing Accessibility? 

    You know how it works, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good!” – except, of course, we are – because we are talking about making a more accessible workplace, so while there is no Mauraders Map, we can give you some places start. 

    Let’s first talk about today, and in our environment right now, we are relying mostly on technologies to communicate and build relationships.  Do you know if your digital platforms and content are accessible?  What level of conformance do they adhere to?  How do you know?

    Where do you start?  Here are a few tips that will help you begin those discussions to start your business case:

    • Learn what you know or don’t know.

      • Become educated on the various levels of accessibility conformance i.e., WCAG AA.

      • Read the latest news articles where accessibility has been highlighted.

      • Join some groups on LinkedIn that specifically share an interest in accessibility to learn more.

    • Take an inventory of where you stand. 

      • Analyze your people platforms.  This includes your HRIS, Learning Management System, talent portals, recognition platforms, company website, and other communication tools.  

      • Request a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) from each of your vendors.  A VPAT is a reporting of what functionality in their platform conforms to accessibility standards and to what level.  

          • Ask questions with your vendor about their product roadmap for accessible features and conformance.

      • Review data such as surveys (engagement, exit, etc.) analyzing what are the trends in relation to how individuals wish to work and their needs.  Do you see people are leaving because of a lack of inclusion?  Are you finding employee relation claims are on the rise commenting lack of accessible tools and environments?

    • Create a quick-wins list

      • What can you do today or next month?

      • Identify what it will take and, if applicable, cost?

      • Who needs to be influenced to realize it?

      • Experiment by trying to do one thing on your quick wins list this year.

    • Create a strategy and roadmap

      • What do you want your culture to be in 2 years, 5 years, etc.?  How do you want colleagues to engage, and how does access for all fit into that?

      • Understand what you can accomplish over time.  Create a business plan and case to acquire any resources or budget to do so.

      • Gain stakeholder buy-in.

    • Talk about the need to anyone and everyone – most people I know are clear that when there is an opportunity for me to advocate for accessibility, I am sure-fire to do so.  It takes individuals to speak up, share their stories and those of others for all of us to understand how to build an inclusive community.

    What is it that they say about assumptions? 

    A few other things that may sink your ship before you even get to the table:

    • Assumptions that everyone knows what accessibility is. Part of how you influence is through educating those stakeholders who will help you path your way to an accessible workplace. Speak in a language that everyone can understand (don’t be Charlie Brown’s teacher)  Relate through stories and impacts.

    • Don’t go it alone.  Find others who can help you advocate.  Don’t be a lone ranger, collaborate, and find a team of champions to help promote the need. Do your homework and see how other businesses are advocating for accessibility and learn best practices from them.

    Start with one thing, trial it, and show to others how one thing can make a difference.  Then take that one thing and add a few more until you have in place an inclusive workplace with access for all.  

    If you would like to chat more about my story, as an advocate of accessibility or any other learning topic, feel free to reach out, because as we say around here, together we learn.

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      A recent US census estimated that 5.2% of US workers (8 million people) worked remotely. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, that number has unquestionably multiplied. But is remote work as strange as it seems?

      Major companies like Twitter have embraced the trend in remote work and have actively made working from home a permanent change for their frontline talent. With so many opinions on the future of work, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. This post will guide you through the possible pros and cons of remote work and help you find the best fit for your team’s professional development goals.

      Is Remote the Right Learning Philosophy?

      A Loss in Creativity: In a recent article, Kevin Roose of the New York Times warned key stakeholders and workers that ditching the office could lead to feelings of isolation, a decrease in employee engagement, and a loss of innovative thinking.

      Before making the switch to fully remote work, weigh the importance of teamwork at your business or firm. Studies actively illustrate the innate power of working with people face-to-face, and employees collaborating on a project together in the same room may be motivated to solve problems faster than remote teams.

      Employee Burnout: Remote workers could feel more pressure to always be available and productive in their supposedly “more relaxed” work environments. Be wary that your remote team might be taking shorter breaks and fewer sick days than an office-based one, and consider how that might impact their ability to create their best content.

      If you are the kind of boss that wants your employees to stay healthy, happy, and motivated, consider creating strict boundaries. Set a “no text after 8 PM” policy, and try your best to grant your workers the weekends they deserve. 

      The Pros of Employee Engagement at Home

      Happy Workers, Healthy World: The average commute of an American hit over 27 minutes in the past year. While at an office-based job a commute is inevitable, a remote position grants employees more freedom to spend time on things that matter, such as their health and family. Surely your team will feel better after a 27-minute walk with loved ones than nearly half an hour spent in traffic!

      If you want to take a look at the bigger picture, consider the environmental benefits of remote work. More than ever before, your company has the chance to lower the number of cars on the road and help reduce harmful Co2 emissions.

      Equality In The Workplace: Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where 86% of employees believe physical appearance matters, and 73% actively believe it impacts a person’s competency on the job. Working at home places emphasis on an employee’s ability rather than their wardrobe or looks.

      Working remotely may motivate female or minority team members to be more productive, as they will be experiencing far less sexual harassment or office-bullying. Zoom might be tiresome, but in the end, it unifies us by how imperfect we all look at home.

      Questioning Workplace Culture

      Face-Time is Overrated: Recent reports have shown that American companies spent 54% of their time on email, meetings, administrative tasks, and office-based “interruptions”. Michelle Ruiz of Vogue recently referred to the obsession of face time and challenges its importance.

      In her article, Ruiz suggests that face time is the ultimate “mirage, the symbolic appearance of working (going to meetings, chatting with co-workers) but not getting much done.” So, if you want your team to feel more comfortable and focused on working rather than putting on airs, consider remote work.

      Positive Productivity: While managers need to be aware that their team might be taking on more as remote workers, it’s not always a bad thing that employees are inspired to push themselves.

      In Stanford University’s two-year remote work productivity study, researchers followed 500 employees after separating them into their respective “remote” and “office-based” groups. The remote working group didn’t feel the need for as many days off, and results showed a work productivity boost equal to a full day’s work.

      The Future of Work: Uncertain But Promising

      While it is impossible to predict the future of work, the surge of remote working has provided companies and employees with more options than ever before. To encourage the best work possible, try making the office an optional space for employees to choose based on their preferred working style.

      Let your workers know that whether they are in the office or their living room, they are still relevant to the company and appreciated for their efforts. Share your story on remote working with us here at WeLearns learning development blog! We would love to hear your thoughts, and move together through these unprecedented times.

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