How we used employee feedback to reimagine work and office life at Momentive

INSIDE MOMENTIVE

Becky Cantieri
September 24, 2021 | 5 min read

More than a year ago, when I sent my first company-wide email regarding the coronavirus pandemic, I told my colleagues “we are definitely in unfamiliar territory.” This proved to be true in so many ways. COVID-19 created a ton of new challenges for our company and our communities, from shutdowns and evolving health concerns to increasing pressures in our home lives. 

As an agile experience management company, we faced these uncertainties and more by doing what we do best: listening and taking action. We used our own solutions to ask for employee feedback and get a solid understanding of how to best support our team and chart a path forward. After all, our solutions are built to empower decision-makers who are facing tough questions—like how to respond to an unprecedented pandemic or how to plan for a new future of work. Unfamiliar territory can be daunting for any company; but if you have the means to stay agile and stay in tune with employees, it’s easier to make your next steps the right steps.

At Momentive, our next steps are directly inspired by the employee feedback we’ve received. Though our return-to-office plans continue to require agility as health guidelines shift, we’re getting ready by reimagining the traditional 9-5, in-office employee experience. Shaping what’s next for our employees means taking their guidance and building a future of work that works for everyone.

To find what works, you have to listen

Collecting employee feedback has always been a core part of the Momentive culture. We consistently survey our employees to get a sense of engagement, inclusion, and belonging—a commitment I encourage all HR leaders to make. We’ve tapped into employee feedback to redefine our company values, improve our benefits, transform performance reviews, and more. During the pandemic, we also created a template for coronavirus leadership check-ins to make sure we knew how employees were feeling, what their biggest challenges were, and how we could better support them.

Early results of those COVID-19 leadership check-ins were telling: 81% of employees said that post-COVID, they wanted to work from home at least two or three days per week, and 84% felt that having a choice in where they worked positively impacted their work experience. This data became the foundation for how we began to reimagine work and it confirmed what we needed to do next: Empower each employee to shape the best working experience for themselves.

84% of Momentive employees said that having a choice in where they worked positively impacted their work experience.

At Momentive, “choice” is the future of work

We believe that the future workplace is a flexible workplace. Our research shows that 80% of workers want their employer to offer a permanent remote work option, and 11% are willing to quit if it’s not an option. The more that companies can embrace employees’ needs and preferences, the more they’ll be able to support, retain, and engage their teams.

We’re calling our new hybrid employment model the “choice model of work” because it places our employees in the center of decision-making. Every person at Momentive will decide between a work experience that’s remote, in-office, or hybrid. We want employees to be able to align with the model that empowers them to feel engaged, productive, and better equipped to manage responsibilities both inside and outside of work.  

During the pandemic, we quickly learned that employees’ needs differ greatly based on their role, home work set-up (or lack thereof), work style, caregiving responsibilities, and health. And our global team proved that not only could they adapt, work, and collaborate remotely, but that their best work isn’t necessarily tied to being in an office. What’s critical is having clarity of mission, the tools to collaborate with colleagues, thoughtful and equitable habits, and the grace to balance commitments. Giving our employees options and agency helps us build a future of work that’s truly flexible and inclusive—and that’s a future that stacks up to our mission, vision, and values.   

Adapting, learning, and moving forward

Reimagining how we work isn’t like flipping a light switch. Our model, Choice, is a year in the making, beginning with discovery (a company-wide survey in which employees shared their input and preference for the future of work) and followed by strategy definition, testing and iterating, and implementation planning. We intentionally focused on reimagining how we work first, and planning a return to office second. 

We’re leveraging everything we’ve learned about remote work during the pandemic and, of course, using employee feedback to improve how we get things done. Some of the updates we’ve piloted as part of our reimagine effort include:

  • Focus Fridays: dedicated days that are free from internal recurring meetings, allowing employees to preserve uninterrupted time to focus at the end of the week.
  • Collaboration & meeting effectiveness toolkit: a collection of collaboration tips, templates, recommended tools, and ways to make meetings more inclusive.
  • More equitable experiences: a renewed commitment to ensuring that meeting times, formats, collaboration practices are equitable for our remote and EMEA colleagues.

We’re also investing in new tools and technology that will help team members collaborate and connect even more efficiently. This is all part of making sure we’re keeping up with the evolving needs of our business and building a thoughtful, long-term support system for our Choice model of work.

The fact remains that the impact of COVID on our home and work lives continues. The health and safety of our employees is our priority, so any return-to-office plan is subject to change. However, I’m grateful that even in an uncertain world, we can make confident decisions about the future of work. With the input of our workforce, we’re putting Choice at the heart of the employee experience at Momentive—and we’ll be stronger for it. 

Becky Cantieri is chief people officer at Momentive.

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