Businesses need practical strategies for addressing the future of work. A recent executive briefing chaired by ITWC CEO Fawn Annan presents advice and frameworks for balancing systems of work and systems built around people.
The times aren’t changing — they’ve changed, and it’s critical that organizations get a handle on the new world of work, said Teresa Smith, Partner Director Human Insights and HCM Strategic Advisory at UKG.
“People today have the freedom to choose who they work for, what they do, and where and when they work,” said Smith. “Candidates and existing employees are now voicing their concerns, and these concerns must not be ignored.” Employers, she said, must make an effort to at least show they’re trying to align their business with their people.
“This must go beyond pay. Most companies think, ‘If we offer better compensation, we’ll attract better people.’ But a study conducted by Morning Consult found that employees are searching for a sense of belonging. They want balance, more career and development opportunities, and for companies to take an interest in them as people.”
Smith said it’s paramount that companies work to understand the whole person.
“There are more facets to people than many employers realize.” While it’s important that employees get the work side of things right — that they meet deadlines, have schedules in place, and attend training when needed — the personal elements are also important.
“They have a life outside work, after all. Maybe they’re getting married. Maybe they’re struggling with child care, or have bills they’re struggling to pay. There may be a lot more going on in the background than you know.”
Smith said companies must invest in their people, to help them thrive and uncover what truly inspires them to be their best. This is key — the connection between people thriving personally and a thriving organization.
Two Systems in One
Smith believes the problem with many organizations is that their culture is built around the model that life happens around the work people do (i.e., the phrase “work/life balance”). But Smith advised business leaders to dig a little deeper.
“Systems of work are centered on optimizing productivity and identifying work patterns to increase efficiency and bring more desirable outcomes,” she said. “A people system, however, connects with workers and prepares them for the future. It tries to understand their motivations and behaviours, and what factors build — or erode — their trust, their happiness, and their sense of empowerment.”
The future of work demands the use of a solution that understands both systems of work and people systems. This, said Smith, is true balance. Organizations must go beyond the limits of tradition and create an environment where the whole person is supported at every stage of their life/work journey.
Alignment and a Contract of Mutual Trust
Smith said the future of work involves a contract of mutual trust. Employers, she said, must embrace such a contract as the basis of a relationship between them and their employees concerning mutual expectations of inputs and outcomes.
TO HEAR MORE, LISTEN TO “THE FUTURE OF WORK“ ON DEMAND
“If this contract is broken,” she said, “the well-being of both parties is jeopardized. Companies must guide people in their journey, considering all their facets, not just what skills they have or how much money they make.”
Companies can address the future of work by honestly answering some key questions:
Do our systems address both the professional and personal aspects of our relationship with employees? People systems are designed to connect with employees, to prepare them and to understand their motivations and behaviours or what factors build up or erode their trust, happiness and empathy, said Smith. “The best solutions are built to understand both these elements – the people who work for you and the work they do.”
Are we serving the processes or the people? “Such solutions are designed to truly serve your people, not the processes,” said Smith. Companies with a deep understanding of its people can create a more connected experience for them, and better understand what stage they themselves are on their journey. “An organization that can align these parallel journeys will have great success and become known as an organization that cares for and invests in the whole person.”
Are our relationships transactional or transformational? Many organizations must shift to looking at technologies that go beyond the transactional to the transformational.
Is our approach reactive or proactive? “Life-work technology can take you from being reactive to proactive,” she said. You become better at anticipating the needs of your people. Suddenly you are an adaptive and dynamic organization – adept at detecting patterns occurring with your people. In the process of building up and empowering people, you build up your organization.
FOR MORE, LISTEN TO “THE FUTURE OF WORK“ ON DEMAND