The Future of Work – Humans not employees

In the first instalment of our future of work series we looked at the four day week. We weighed up the pros and cons of the four day week and whether it’s actually workable.

Tech companies love to talk about user experience while ignoring one core group of users; their staff. So in this instalment of our series we’re going to focus on people. We all know the pandemic has been awful. But how is it going to change how we work in the long term? How is demographic change in the workforce going to affect how an organization relates to staff? Will offices still be a thing?

Let’s take a look at how our personal relationship to “work” is changing.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Human Experience (HX) not Human Resources (HR)

Think about the meetings we’re having while working remotely.

It’s tough to view someone in a purely work capacity when, for example, you may have seen the inside of their house, with their pets or even young children interrupting your “very important” conference call. 

The pandemic is forcing organizations to think of their workforce as individual people. Traditionally businesses would focus on work needs, for example giving people a laptop and the tools they need to work. While that is still crucial the pandemic has forced businesses to start thinking differently. Work and life are now not separate issues that employers need to address. In fact Gartner reported in their ReimagineHR report that employers who support their employees holistically reported a 21% increase in the number of “high performers” in their workforce.

Thinking about the human experience of actually working for your business gives you a multi-dimensional view of your individual employees. Which helps you to meet their needs so they can do better work.

Actions you can take:

  • See your team as humans, not just resource
  • Focus on mental and physical health of your team members
  • But burnout is not their problem to solve, it’s YOUR problem

Value Alignment

We’ve spoken about “Generation Z” before and how their values can affect a company’s O2O strategy. We have also spoken about how companies could provide personalized training, with each age demographic having different training needs.

But what about differing approaches, and relationships, to work?

Most workplaces are now multi-generational. Gen Z mixes with millennials, Gen X and boomers. This can lead to conflict as each generation assimilates information and communicates differently. They also have different needs and priorities.

McKinsey’s recent “True Gen” survey highlighted a key aspect of how Generation Z thinks about communities. 66% percent of the Gen Zers in McKinsey’s survey believe that communities are created by causes and interests, not by economic backgrounds or educational levels. 65% percent of the Gen Zers in that survey also said that they particularly value knowing what is going on around them and being in control.

If Gen Z believes more in shared values, clarity and being in control this can affect both the current workplace and future recruitment. Businesses that cannot be clear on their values and how they relate to potential employees, will not be able to recruit the best candidates. Companies should also make efforts to make Gen Z staff feel in control. If they cannot do that, they could lose their best staff.

Communication, and knowing people’s priorities, is key in the future workplace.

Actions you can take:

  • Live and communicate your values
  • Be inclusive
  • Have a strong CSR and charity outreach policy
  • Be authentic with your team and customers

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Hybrid Work & Flexible Hours

The world got very used to remote work in 2020, for obvious reasons.

But as some territories begin to return to normal, businesses and staff are not always going back to business as usual.

While some companies want to go back to the usual office routine, many are embracing change and choosing to adapt. 

Not everyone has enjoyed being “full remote”. Which means “hybrid working” is becoming more popular.

Some workers are desperate to go back to the office, but others are happy to come in a few times a week as needed. Giving your staff the option to control where they work will make your team feel more valued and could increase productivity. Gartner’s HR survey illustrates this. In groups of staff at offices that worked a standard 40 hour week in the office, only 36% of them would be described by their managers as “high performers”.  When organizations shift from this standard approach to a more flexible model with more choice, 55% of employees were termed as “high performers”.

This can help with staff retention, happiness levels, absentee levels…there are real business benefits to flexibility. 

Actions you can take:

  • Get used to not controlling the work environment
  • Focus on where your teams feel most productive
  • Be flexible and adapt to what your employees need

Mental Health & Neurodiversity

2020 was rough for everyone. And it continues to be the case for many of us. We’ve all had to deal with increased stress, change and most of all isolation over the last year or so.

And for countries that don’t have full access to COVID vaccines, this will continue for some time yet.

But there are some positives. The pandemic has brought a renewed focus and energy to tackling and de-stigmatizing mental health issues. Gartner’s research found that 45% of well-being budget increases were allocated to mental and emotional well-being initiatives. So businesses are getting the message.

But there is still a long way to go. Organizations need to be accepting and supportive of people who are affected by mental health issues. We don’t blame people if they have back problems, mental health issues should have the same lack of judgement.

Actions you can take:

  • Support, don’t judge
  • Create a neurodiversity policy
  • Start support groups and initiatives for people who might be struggling

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If you need help changing your organization and levelling up your employee experience, MAQE can help. Just get in touch via [email protected]!