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General Mills: Return-to-office concerns drop from 71% to 0% with TeamFlex

General Mills:  Return-to-office concerns drop from 71% to 0% with TeamFlex
Results:
0% of employees surveyed were concerned with returning to the office after Covid-19, down from 71% of employees surveyed in June
Key takeaways:
• 14 TeamFlex workshops were delivered over 8 weeks in ANZ.
• 63 TeamFlex workshops were delivered over 8 weeks in EUAU.
• Engagement levels reached the highest levels in recent years at 88%; up from 67%, 74% and 84% in the previous three years respectively.

The need

Pre-Covid

A UK study triggered the first steps towards a global, long-range plan for the Future of Work at General Mills.

Post-Covid

The global pandemic fuelled urgency for sustainable remote and flexible work that needed to cut through previous roadblocks. A taste of autonomy with remote work resulted in the desire to continue into the future, though challenges with flexible working were identified. Some employees voiced needing more support for success.

The framework requirements

General Mills needed a framework that would meet the following requirements:

  • Support pre-Covid culture shift efforts
  • Prevent loss of productivity
  • Support workforce wellbeing
  • Lead the way in culture shift both locally and globally

Scoping the project

FoW research & survey themes

General Mills conducted independent research and a company-wide pulse survey. They noticed a number of recurring themes. These helped formulate the foundation of TeamFlex:

  • Employees enjoyed increased flexibility
  • Many felt more productive and able to control time
  • Reinvesting time with family became possible again
  • Virtual meetings were more effective and disciplined
  • Meeting barriers were reduced due to the ’equalisation’ effect
  • A belief that a systemic approach to flexibility is important: ‘‘freedom with a framework"
  • The need for serendipitous office moments to help read dynamics and politics
  • Gratitude for General Mills’ pandemic leadership.

A shift in perspective

It became evident that a fundamental shift in perspective at every level, beginning with leadership, would need to be enforced.

Challenges

Practicality

The TeamFlex framework needed to be truly possible to implement with no contradictory messaging.

Avoid this scenario:

Message: “Retain your work-life balance”

Reality: “Keep hustling - you have extra time to dedicate to your work now”

Scalability

The TeamFlex framework needed to be easy to roll out quickly across the entire business.

Avoid this scenario:

“Only a highly skilled specialist can conduct workshops.”

Inclusivity

The TeamFlex framework needed to have buy-in from everyone, including top leadership and executives, and benefit everyone across diverse geographies, teams and employment levels.

Avoid this scenario:

“Only senior leadership can be trusted, therefore everyone below manager level must work between 9am and 5pm.”

The Solution

TeamFlex, an initiative made up of three key workshops, was rolled out to both the AU and EU teams. It was based on the fundamental belief that “a team’s actions and how they self-organise are at the core of getting flexible work right.”

It included:

  • A team-based approach to decision making
  • Tools for high-performance teams & wellbeing
  • Practicality, scalability & inclusivity

General Mills engaged Beam to both develop these custom workshops and hold ’train the trainer’ workshops to enable HR partners to facilitate the workshops internally across General Mills.

What’s next

General Mills experienced overwhelming success with the TeamFlex initiative and plans to investigate additional custom workshops with Beam. Their next focus is on talent capability and workforce planning.

Other markets such as the US who are slightly behind Australia in the post-Covid back-to-work shift are keeping a keen eye with the potential to adopt the program as well.

Need help making sense of flexible work best practices in your organisation? Contact our experts to find out about our other custom workshops and programs!

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