What is the Future of Work?

The Future of Work

What is the Future of Work?

In this article by Sonya Law, we examine what is Human Resources’ Role in the future of work?

The catalyst for this article being the Pandemic which continues to disrupt businesses forcing them to: Stop, reset, recalibrate.

Human Resources role in the future of work is multifaceted and requires a pivot away from old thinking to a leading role in guiding and enabling managers to develop, as Amy Scott would put it, ‘radical candor’ conversations that directly address what people need in order to achieve their potential and the company as a whole to achieve its Strategic objectives.

In 2021 organisation’s that will thrive will have the difficult conversations with empathy about diversity and inclusiveness.  Will have courageous conversations that give direct feedback to employees about their performance.  Human Resources role is to educate people managers in a Holistic Approach that requires them as leaders to bring their whole self to work, to care personally about their people and address people’s physical wellbeing, mental health and desire for social connectedness in the future of work.

Be prepared to tell people what you really think and be challenged in return, fulfill your morale obligation as a people manager, an example of this would be when giving employee’s feedback about why they were unsuccessful or overlooked for a promotion within the business.   Or when an employee’s request for flexibility is denied.  When people are given a standard answer, it does not respect the employee or the value they bring to an organization and does not inspire or transact discretionary effort which drives high performance.

We are told as managers to be professional and if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it, this old thinking whilst nice, polite and civilized, serves only our own comfort.  It does not encourage and nurture talent.  When an employee is given guidance, direct and respectful feedback on why they did not achieve a promotion, or more money, they then are empowered as they have a choice whether to take on that feedback to aid their growth, learning and development within the organization.  Being overlooked for promotions, or raises, is a key reason that employees exit from organizations.

Flexibility is the new Stability in 2021.  During the Pandemic, organizations who are exploring a long-term commitment towards flexibility, embracing technology and a willingness to be open minded to new ways of working will thrive in the future of work.  It is not a one size fits all, a holistic approach guarantee’s that the conversation is heading in the right direction. It does not need to be perfect, in fact their will be some trial and error and testing of different scenarios before a solution is landed, employees know when you are genuine and authentic.

Human resources role in coordinating the future of work will require many leadership skills, adaptive, inspirational, affiliative, coaching and democratic.  These different leadership styles present an opportunity to look at the employee experience through different lenses as we contemplate what the future of work will look like.  Who is doing it well – designing workplaces to engage employees, during pandemic?  The following are two examples for you to explore; – Axel Springer in Berlin, Germany What’s the status of the new Axel Springer building in light of Corona? – YouTube and the Smith Group A Holistic Approach for Returning to the Office After COVID-19 – YouTube.

Human Resources lead the culture of the organization and play a pivotal role in guiding and monitoring key people metrics by way of a culture dashboard that gives quantitative and qualitative insights into the culture.  Culture surveys are the most common method used while another approach is to get out from behind the desk and walk the shop floor and get out in the field with technicians and customers to understand where the pain points are and what is needed to take the organization forward acting.  This approach also gives some valuable insights into how to solve customers and more broadly societies problems.  This particular approach informs quality and engineering in terms of innovative product design and service as to why there is churn in customers, or what it is that your customers like and what differentiates you from your rivals which informs the sales and marketing investment and spend.  This is particularly important in future marketing to Millennials whom are motivated by creating value and connection with the company’s values, vision and mission.

Human Resources Managers, who will do well in the future of work are able to adapt their communication style to influence all key stakeholders of the senior leadership team, quality, engineering, technical, sales, customer, finance and CEO’s to be a true Strategic Partner.  Human Resources in the future of work needs to orientate away from just benchmark and best practice towards realizing its potential to create, deliver and capture value throughout the whole organization through guidance of the human capital effort towards achievement of strategic objectives.  This is Human Resources that embraces soft and hard metrics to deliver bottom line impact in the way of revenue per headcount, which is a measure of how well we are utilizing our headcount to deliver a return to the shareholders.

High performance organizations who have adopted this holistic approach that values people, extracts discretionary effort, promotes from within and develops its human resources potential will be successful in … future of work.

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