Today's workforce finds itself in an interesting bind: At a time when so many new consumer and business-technology innovations have sprung up in recent years, the most demographically diverse group of employees ever is being tasked to work together in entirely new ways. With significant proportions of four generations now working together side by side -- Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and seniors -- companies that find the right mix of tools for this new workforce will be best positioned for long-term growth and success.
At Convergence 2013 in San Diego last week, Cornerstone OnDemand CEO Adam Miller described being on a mission to get everyone in the office on the same page: from the soon-to-retire baby boomer to the always-on, digitally savvy Millennial. The way to do this, Miller explained, depends on reimagining the way we work. (Check out Miller’s keynote address here.)
Here are just a few highlights from Convergence 2013, fleshed out in many panel sessions and breakouts, of how the future of work breaks down:
In order to get ahead in the war for talent, recruiting must be a proactive experience -- and recruiters need to actively define their company's brand to talented prospects. Miller posed the question: Would you rather your company culture be created by default or by design? In today's uber-connected society, your company culture will get defined one way or another. Companies have an opportunity to design vibrant cultures in their organizations if they place employees, not management, at the heart of the process.
As some speakers explained in breakout sessions, much of company branding comes from within. This means keeping all generations positive and passionate about the work they do. For Baby Boomers, this might mean allowing them to try new roles within their department so they can continue to learn. For Gen X'ers, it may mean flexible hours so they can coach their son's baseball team in the afternoons. For Millennials? Freedom to work from where ever -- whether that be a cafe down the street or in a foreign country for a year.
"There is a lots of philosophy out there about what an employer brand is, but there also needs to be practical application," said Kim Cassady, Cornerstone's Director of Talent during one breakout session. "So, what is employer brand? Essentially it’s your reputation -- it’s what people think of you when people see you post a job. Your brand is not always tied with your marketing strategy and it needs to be actively managed."
There are great examples of companies that have succeeded on the front – see how Commonwealth Bank of Australia succeeded in building a culture where their people are engaged, valued, passionate and committed or how TGI Friday’s protects their brand by providing a greater guest experience by better engaging their Millennial workforce.
Gone are the days of the annual performance review. As Miller explained -- and as Virgin Media and Louis Vuitton illustrated in breakout sessions -- the way most companies measure performance needs to be revamped. Allowing for constant conversation around performance can be achieved through cloud-based services that are simple to use and mirror consumer social networks like Facebook. Today employees can give peers "likes" for a job well done on a project and managers can see how employees are performing even on projects that they're not directly involved with. However you decide to implement these tools -- be sure to keep it simple.
New ways of engaging and assessing employee performance was a major area of discussion at Convergence this year. And not surprisingly, Cornerstone released a new set of tools to deal with just this type of social performance management. At Wednesday's industry analyst "un-panel", the participants hashed out some of the key issues facing organizations looking to move away from the traditional end-of-year review.
What employee perk matters most these days to the evolving workforce? According to a quick poll of Convergence attendees' respective companies, career progression was the most sought-after benefit. Learning is the catalyst to this progression, and it also opens up entry-level jobs for those looking to enter the workforce. Peer-to-peer training and continuous learning hold vast potential. Companies such as Walgreens have created their own "universities" for employees -- offering classes in-person or online (some even count for college credit). The leaders of Walgreens University are all nominated from within, creating a strong core culture at the company. In reference to nominating internal leaders, Warren Lindley (DVP, Organization Design and Effectiveness) put it this way: "The more you drive your values to a group of core people the more you can engage the transformation." Already, the company has seen tangible improvements in employee engagement and retention as a result of its investment in employee learning options.
In their breakout session, Louis Vuitton talked about the challenges facing organizations in terms of finding and developing the right talent to drive the business strategy. "As we grow, we need to sharpen internal knowledge," Philippe Manzanares said. "We are no longer a 165 year old start-up, so need to be more systematic. That means changing from a buy strategy to a build strategy. We cannot buy employee skills, we need to build them."
Cloud-based services and tools are creating an array of new channels and platforms through which employees can share ideas and get work done -- no matter where they may be. Managers don't need everyone in one location any longer for a brainstorming session or to manage complex projects. Bottom line: Work can be completed more efficiently digitally. Miller shared that nearly 70 percent of employees today want to work in another country. New collaboration tools enable such aspirations. By taking an "inside-out" method to drive all this re-imaging, Miller explained, you will attract top talent needed to grow, as Boomers and Gen X'ers retire and younger generations grow into new roles.
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