Redefining Workplace Meetings Could Be Key To Employee Retention During The Great Resignation

Mar 10, 2022,10:00am EST

Gary Drenik - Contributor

Leadership Strategy

Great Resignation

An unprecedented nationwide trend of employees vacating jobs for greener pastures, dubbed the “Great Resignation,” has employers on their heels and changing the way they approach talent retention. From better PTO and worker flexibility to higher average wages in a number of professions, there has been a rejuvenated emphasis on employee well-being and maintaining an excellent culture. But one understated area that greatly impacts retention is the way organizations approach meetings in what is now the golden age of hybrid work and telecommuting.

To discuss how crucial rethinking the meeting is in today’s work climate, I spoke with Humphrey Chen, cofounder and CEO of CLIPr, a company that provides a video indexing platform using AI and machine learning to make video searchable by transcription, topics and subtopics. Prior to CLIPr, Chen was the head of Amazon Rekognition and the chief product officer of fast-growing video intelligence company VidMob. CLIPr was born from the pandemic to solve this challenge of making meetings more collaborative, engaging and easier to reference. In my discussion with Chen, he discussed why remote and hybrid environments are amplifying the Great Resignation and how meetings are central to this adjustment.

Gary Drenik: How has the Great Resignation affected the workforce and what extra measures should organizations take to retain staff?

Humphrey Chen: The Great Resignation has brought about a new age of employee empowerment. The Covid-19 pandemic gave people time to self-reflect on what they really want for themselves and from employers. It’s clear that if their needs aren’t met that they aren’t afraid to go elsewhere. According to a recent survey from Prosper Insights & Analytics, a large number of workers anticipate a job change in the next 6 months across key age ranges including 18-24 (29.4%), 25-34 (18.8%) and 35-44 (14.1%).

Prosper - New Job In Next 6 Months
Prosper - New Job In Next 6 Months PROSPER INSIGHTS & ANALYTICS

Remote work has amplified this trend because we now have thousands of borderless companies that are all looking for the best talent regardless of geography. To help retain employees that have so many options, organizations must audit their benefits packages, internal processes, and onboarding practices. Cosmetic old-school startup perks, such as ping pong tables in the break room, are being phased out for truly meaningful work/life balance and self-care benefits such as flexible hours, wellness stipends, and those who focus on initiatives that remove antiquated stigmas in the workplace. For example, some companies are beginning to offer paid menstruation leave for female and transgender workers. Overall, it’ll be competitive pay, work/life/wellness perks, and policies that best adapt to remote or hybrid work that will be the most impactful to staving off the Great Resignation in your company.

Drenik: Have regular business practices become even more difficult now that some are moving to hybrid or remote work? Do you think this has impacted worker retention?

Chen: Yes, absolutely. Routine business practices that were more or less involuntary now must be actively pushed in a remote or hybrid work environment. Things like side-bar communication around clients and deliverables, syncing team members on a day-to-day basis, and just basic integration of new employees, have all become work muscles that need constant exercise and attention. During the pandemic, most companies' answer to these challenges were a lot of virtual meetings. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, found virtual weekly meeting time on Teams has more than doubled during the pandemic, climbing 148% in February 2021 compared to the same time the year before. Zoom cited similar growth on its video conferencing platform in the same time period. Adding more meetings seemed like a great idea at the time but quickly became the symbol for inefficiency and worker burnout. I believe that the key to improving retention and keeping employees happy is to reconstruct how employers view the goal of meetings and reframe the way we look at mandatory attendance. Much time and productivity is wasted when you have mandatory attendance to an hour-long meeting where only 10-15 mins of the discussion is meaningful to your specific job function and responsibilities.

Drenik: What ways can employers improve meetings to increase employee retention?

Chen: There is untapped potential in mainstream virtual meeting adoption that employers can take advantage of to make meetings a valuable, referenceable data source instead of the traditional myopic structure. This is especially true now that the stigma of recording meetings has all but disappeared since the pandemic. Video is one of, if not the most, important form of communication we have today and yet it is also the most underutilized. You can’t scan a video to find the most valuable content from a meeting or quickly search for keywords in the way you can a whitepaper or any written form of communication. We should be looking at ways to make meetings valuable after-the-fact by turning them into digestible segments to allow for team-wide collaboration, commentary, and make those segments easily shareable via email or collaboration platforms like Slack.

With advancements in AI, there is now technology capable of achieving this. Imagine a meeting ended and you were able to comment on one segment that would notify the whole team or share a “piece” of the meeting with a colleague who needs it for a document they are writing. This is the type of next-level video collaboration and search we need. There is definitely work being done on this front as you see companies like Otter doing audio transcription and others that help automatically pull action items, but it hasn’t fully been realized yet. Instead of seeing meetings through its traditional lens, employers must look at them as a central conduit of communication across the company. It also unlocks the potential for real-time optional meetings, which can empower work flexibility even further.

Drenik: What are real-time optional meetings and how do you see them working in corporations?

Chen: Real-time optional builds off common meeting structures we don’t even think about most of the time. Right now, when a manager invites staff to a meeting, whether internal or client-facing, you can either select “yes” or “no.” Real-time optional is the third option where those who are typically “fly-on-the-wall” non-verbal participants can view the recorded version of that meeting at a later date that is infused with technologies that make video searchable. It’ll not only give real-time optional participants the flexibility to better utilize that valuable time during the day to focus on their own deliverables but allow them to locate relevant information more easily within that meeting then skipping through it or watching the full thing. Top talent doesn’t want to feel like their work is being hindered by an abundance of meetings and recorded videos of meetings.

Drenik: Do you expect more employers to increasingly leverage meeting tools to improve worker experiences?

Chen: I expect it to happen simply because it isn’t a new problem, but one that’s been around even before Covid-19 when in-person meetings were still dominant. Companies spend a great deal of time changing workflows and processes to improve employee experience, but meeting management has been a huge challenge for years. It feels like finally the need for a change and the technology capable of delivering it have met to create a perfect opportunity.

Drenik: Thanks, Humphrey for your insights into how organizations must rethink the way they look at meetings.

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Gary Drenik

Gary Drenik