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The evolution of business has added another “R” to the Insightful Leadership playbook.

No, I’m not talking about the reading, writing and arithmetic many of us grew up with in the U.S. public school system. I’m talking about Retention – the ability to keep good, productive employees once you have found them, particularly if you are expanding your organization’s DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) efforts.

Since beginning Tompkins Ventures in 2020 and Tompkins Leadership in 2022, I attribute much of our substantial growth to our embrace of the post-pandemic virtual world. Our staff is spread across multiple states, and our partners cover every continent except Antarctica.

But first, let’s go back to the 20-year supply chain evolution of EERR, which in 2023 has evolved into EERRR:

  • Efficiency: When coined in the early 1990s, supply chain’s entire concept was reducing costs.
  • Effectiveness: By at least 2005, most organizations used visibility to work together, collaborating on sales, out of stocks, snags in deliveries, adding value to your partners and your customers.
  • Respect: In 2020, when the pandemic, decades of digital innovation and geopolitical/financial crises combined to break the world’s supply chains, leaders gave supply chain the respect they deserved – respect, in this case, means paying attention to and elevating Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) to the C-level.
  • Resiliency: In turn, those CSCOs are adding resiliency to their organization’s supply chains, aiming to handle the perpetual disruption mentioned above.
  • Retention: The above 4 points of evolution matter not at all if you do not have the organizational muscle – RE, staff members – to get work done and serve your customers.

We have tackled staff Retention with a lot of the tried and true – treating workers as humans, not cogs, listening to their concernscommunicating through a variety of tools. But we have also embraced the virtual office, much to the pleasure of our staff. We could not have assembled our roster of international talent by requiring them to schlep to a downtown office every day. In my view, there are only three reasons to go back to office:

  1. To entertain your boss. Bosses want people to boss around and micromanage.
  2. To let your boss practice the ancient (2019) ritual of staff meetings.
  3. To gossip and spread rumors.

I mean really, if you want to talk to me, isn’t 1-on-1 better? And can’t we do that on Zoom, Teams, Slack, Webex, etc.? Half the people you talk to will be on one of those platforms anyway, so it does not matter if they are in the office next door or half a world away. And if your workers require micromanagement, you should not have hired them in the first place.

Embracing this flexibility will be more important as organizations expand their DEI efforts. Data from Future Forum reveals that underrepresented groups desire more flexibility: “88% of Asian/Asian American respondents, 83% of Black respondents and 81% of Hispanic/Latin respondents report preferring hybrid or fully remote work arrangements, compared to 79% of white respondents.”

So if you want happier, more productive staff – not to mention wasting less money on office leases – look for ways to add more remote work to your organization.