Your people and the future of work: How to help them thrive
Helping your employees to thrive during this time is challenging, but it’s essential for the long-term success of your organization. We gathered leaders from Deloitte, Thrive Global, and SAP share their insights on what companies must do now to create a workforce that is resilient, motivated and ready for the future.
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“The future of work is human,” says Erica Volini, Deloitte's Global Human Capital Leader. “In my view, what recent events show us is that we need humanity and the potential of humans more than ever before.”
As Erica explains, although we live in a world where there's incredible technology available, we still need unique human skills.
“We need individuals with empathy and listening skills who can handle and work with people in very stressful situations,” says Erica. “And that doesn't just apply during a crisis.”
Erica says it’s crucial that companies create an environment that’s distinctly human. To do this, she says organizations must:
- Really lean into their purpose. That’s not just saying their purpose for the sake of having a mission statement or values, but really thinking about how that purpose translates into what people are doing every single day and what their contributions are to foster a sense of true belonging.
- Anchor onto potential and design flexible career plans. This means workforce programs that allow individuals not to do what's on their resume, but to do what they have the potential to do, and to continue to cultivate those capabilities.
- Make bold decisions based on data and insights. We need to start asking the questions that will help us gain the insights needed to move forward.
During this crisis we’ve seen human potential at its best
The importance of inclusion and belonging
Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global adds that one of the most important things right now is helping our people to be resilient.
“Right now our people are affected by the deep uncertainty of the future more than ever before,” she says. “This is going to affect how they work both in terms of their productivity and in terms of their relationship with their colleagues, which are now becoming even more paramount with all the latest emphasis on racial justice and diversity, inclusion, and belonging.”
Relationships with colleagues are paramount – particularly when it comes to inclusion and belonging.
We must let people bring their whole selves to work
The problem is that our unique human traits, such as empathy, can weaken when we’re stressed out. Arianna says we need solid processes to help people identify all their stress and anxiety triggers, because we’re all different.
“If our people are aware of the triggers they have, then we can give them specific tools and techniques to help. But it starts with each individual.”
That's why, she says, the HR phrase about ‘bringing your whole self to work’, has to move now from an abstract principle to a concrete reality.
The CHRO is more pivotal than ever before
Kerry Brown, SAP’s VP of Workforce Adoption, says that the awareness, visibility and the attention that organizations are paying to the CHRO is unprecedented. “The CHRO is the person who's addressing the organization now – not the CEO or the CEO or CFO,” she says. “The CHRO is the one talking because it’s the people who are powering their companies foward... or not.”
Work wasn’t working for everyone
Despite the uncertainty, “there’s never been a bigger opportunity for HR,” says Erica. She says the challenges we’re facing, such as transitioning into the future of work, figuring out how to optimize costs, working in virtual environments, and racial inequality, can’t all be solved by a single function.
“I see the role of CHROs to be a convener, to bring every part of the organization together to ask: ‘How are we going to transform work? Work wasn’t working for everyone, so how are we going to make work, work better?’”
Listen, listen, listen…
The first step is through listening. We need to listen to our people to understand what’s working and what’s not. Only from there can we predict what we need to do next and then take action.
Kerry says that in any transformation like this one, we have to keep listening and give our people the opportunity to give us feedback. “We’re all going through a lot of change and it's not all going to be linear.
“Will there be a second wave in the Fall? Will people still be scared? There are a lot of ‘what ifs’, so continuing to listen will allow all of us to adapt as much as we can do,” she explains.
“Listening is incredibly important,” says Erica. “Especially in a world of virtual and remote work. If you do not have the ability to listen, you cannot be a leader. And I mean truly actively listen.”
Well-being is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’
It’s through listening that leaders are increasingly coming to the realization that the well-being of their people is critical to the success of their organizations.
“Our people are telling us that transparency, shared ownership, well-being, flexibility, and psychological safety, are not nice-to-haves, they’re must-haves,” says Kerry.
Arianna says that big multinationals, such as Verizon, Accenture, Cisco, Walmart, are all leading the way because the health and wellness, and now belonging, of their employees is paramount and central to their operations.
“Well-being can’t stay in the realm of the ‘warm and fuzzy’,” says Arianna. “If it remains warm and fuzzy, it will remain a peripheral movement and it needs to be central. It needs to be attached to performance and productivity and the bottom line.”
But how? The answer lies in data.
Using the right data, the right way
With access to the right data, we can clearly see that well-being is causally tied to success. But, as Arianna says, “our entire working culture has been built on the false assumption that in order to be successful, to be incredibly productive – that you have to be incredibly busy and that have to be always on.”
Erica says that the problem is that although we know what to do, we’re still not implementing it. “In our 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report well-being was the number 1 trend,” says Erica. “And 94% of people say they absolutely see well-being as a driver of organizational performance. Yet 61% are not actually measuring the impact of their well-being programs.
“People aren't using the data properly, people aren't measuring the effectiveness,” she says. “They’re measuring the worker experience, which is great, but it needs to go further. It needs to connect to productivity, to customer experience, to business outcomes.”
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