The Future of Work
The time between the first flight of the Wright brothers, December 17 in 1903 and the landing on the moon, July 20 in 1969, was already mind-boggling. But it is nothing compared to the speed of many of the changes in today’s world, accelerated by the covid-pandemic. They are so disruptive that they put a lot of our known employment structures and purposes into a new perspective.
For example, our workplace has shifted almost instantly to home. By many it was thought to be an experiment, a short-term necessity. It turned out to have a thorough impact on the perspective towards the necessity of presence in order to deliver value. In parallel, the pandemic has forced workers to rethink their work-life balance. As a result, where in 2019 hybrid employment models were unthinkable for many companies, in 2022 they have become an expectation and important argument in employer choice… These (r)evolutions aren’t making it easier on companies to attract and retain workers and have made the war for talent even more challenging.
To stay successful companies need to rethink their approach to hiring, growing, retaining, managing and leading current and future employees.
The relationship between employees and employers is changing. We see 3 main challenges emerging:
- How to attract, grow and retain talent?
- How to manage a remote workforce?
- How do we build strong connections within and between our teams?
Many companies struggle to find and/or recruit talented workers. They are fishing in the same pond or are continuously playing rounds of musical chairs, stealing talents from their competitors and vice-versa. Seldomly, they tap into the current existing potential of their workforce. Far too often the full potential of their workforce remains hidden. Companies will need to shift their focus from hiring talent to discovering talent. It means broadening their talent pool and allocate their resources accordingly.
Successful companies have created a people value chain that is capable of identifying the kind of human being that fits within their organization and what their needs are: what do they look like, what do they value, what motivates them? They are able to develop modular career trajectories, not only upwards, but also lateral, to fit those needs, making it possible for the employee to grow, thrive, find and fulfill their purpose. They use this knowledge to attract and recruit, internally and externally. And they are able to deliver to the promise, continuously maintaining the relationship with their co-workers and updating it to the evolutions of life.
The results is an organization that offers a sense of belonging and opportunity for each individual.
Companies think they have a strong grip on their employees activities, as long as they are in the office. The time clock is still a widely used practice to manage the workforce’s time spending. Even though the time-spent tells nothing about effectivity, efficiency or the executed activities. Only the sales teams were traveling more or less freely, and they were and still are reviled for it. That is why companies also try to tighten their grip on them by tracking their sales activities. Which can be interesting if it is done in a well-balanced way and seen as a first step in giving more insights in the relationship between activities and results.
If we want to treat our staff as value adding humans, we should not manage them as machines.
People are the happiest when they know they do valuable work.
So, co-workers, employees, teams must be supported to use their personal capacity, to identify which activities add value and which don’t. As a result, they will themselves create an operational workflow and planning, that will help them add the most value in line with company objectives.
In short, companies must shift from time tracking, to added value thinking; connected through a shared vision and values.
In an ever more remote working environment, the challenge is to remain connected and to build sustainable collaborating teams. Coming to the office is no longer a valuable activity if you are “hidden” behind your computer, executing task-oriented activities. Coming to the office should be a moment of connection, a moment of true collaboration.
Unfortunately, many companies struggle when it comes to bringing people together. And even if they do so, it remains a struggle to collaborate. Very often these moments lead to arguments and frustrations, unable to get to a consensus, making decisions or setting priorities. As leaders we should look to ourselves and think about how we can facilitate our (project) teams to identify meaningful initiatives, to better understand the scope, the objective and to give them the freedom to build their own plan of approach. And finaly ask them what they need from us, to be able to experiment and build the solution.
Connectedness is built through a common business language and working on common meaningful objectives.
Understanding the needs of your staff, and adapt your career path offerings accordingly, next to rewarding your workforce for value creation instead of presence and bring them together to participate in meaningful initiatives is key for sustainable management of human capital.