Change has a bad reputation. The mere prospect of it is known to be scary, unsettling and intimidating. But as a comfort, we must remind ourselves that change is also exciting, exhilarating and the only way to make progress—in life, and at work.
In the corporate realm, change—at the hands of technology or otherwise—often seems to threaten long-standing companies and the jobs they provide. But what if we looked at change differently? Kevin Mulcahy, futurist and author of The Future Workplace Experience, says that there are two types of change: transformation and disruption.
"Transformation is when you're leading change, and disruption is when change is being done unto you," says Mulcahy, who works to help organizations "future proof" their HR strategies. You want your business to fall under the "transformation" category, not under the "disruption" umbrella, Mulcahy says.
Now, if the word "transformation" makes you cringe, you’re not alone. To make transformation concrete and actionable, rather than a vague buzzword, businesses must become aware of key trends and do their part to participate in the trends when appropriate. This is where Mulcahy’s work as a futurist comes in: when it comes to transformation of the HR space specifically, it’s his job to identify key trends and make recommendations for businesses to make the most of what’s happening around them. Here, we explore four of the many developments he has noticed.
1) Work Has Become Experiential
Experiential work is the notion that, for employees, the last best customer experience they had becomes the minimum expectation for the quality of experience they have in the workplace, according to Mulcahy. "Basically, I want my IT help desk to be the same experience as when I go to the Apple Genius Bar. I want my cafeteria to be the same experience as when I go to my hip, cool cafe."
Workers are comparing the outside world to workplaces, Mulcahy explains. HR departments are not competing against other HR departments; they are competing against other consumer practices. This sets a high bar for on-the-job experience, but don’t fret—embrace the challenge and aim to provide the level of enjoyment that employees expect. Conduct surveys to determine what kinds of perks or benefits they prefer and deliver them, when possible.
2) Technology Is a Productivity Enhancer
No surprise here—technology is reshaping workplace experience, Mulcahy says. Some companies are using Slack to improve communication, while others are preparing to use implantable or wearable technology to enable their employees to work better while on the road. And Mulcahy is not just talking wrist wearables—he's talking exoskeletons that help employees to lift very large boxes and augmented reality glasses that help workers to visualize data more effectively. And of course, let’s not forget artificial intelligence, which promises to automate repetitive tasks, and on-demand learning technology, which provides employees access to skill-building resources whenever they want them.
Sound futuristic and scary? It shouldn’t be. Most of this technology is designed to enhance workers’ productivity, not steal their jobs. You certainly don’t need all of these new tools, though. Experiment with different gadgets and software to determine what works for your business. Software trials often provide an opportunity to test run new technology without a monetary commitment. And, if you’re more interested in testing out some promising hardware like a wearable, invest in one and see how it performs before rolling it out to your entire team.
3) Home-ing From Work Is on the Rise
Mulcahy says he has seen a shift from working-from-home to "home-ing" from work. Companies are allowing employees to complete personal to-do's from the office to make it easier for workers to spend more time in the building, Mulcahy says.
"If I want you to stay later, well, I need to enable you to have your laundry delivered to our office building," he says. The office concierge will collect the laundry and have it waiting downstairs. Employers can make ordering food easier and getting packages delivered to work simpler.
This way, employees do not need to run home because the laundry place is closing at 5 p.m., or because they have to meet the UPS delivery person, Mulcahy explains. Employers are recognizing that they are chasing people out of the office, he says, and this is a good thing. As our work lives and home lives increasingly intertwine, it’s okay for businesses to get a bit more flexible on defining work hours. You’ll want to ensure that productivity doesn’t suffer, but if your employees are still performing at 100%, there’s no reason to loosen the reigns.
4) You’ll Have to Choose Between a Mission Statement and a Purpose Statement
"Employers are talking less about their mission statements, and talking a lot more about their purpose statements," Mulcahy says. A purpose statement, he says, tells people what a business exists to do and why.
Younger generations are demonstrating higher levels of attraction to companies that have a sense of who they are and what they want to contribute to the world, he says. And those are concepts discussed in a purpose statement rather than a mission statement, according to Mulcahy.
"It's a 'what' versus a 'why,'" he says. "I think generations and candidates now need to feel a sense of connection to your 'why.'"
A purpose statement produces a more emotional connection to the business than a mission statement does, Mulcahy adds, so participating in this trend is a no-brainer. Define what your business stands for, and make it clear to your existing employees and applicants.
Photo: Creative Commons
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The Modern Workforce Favors Flexibility and Digital Collaboration
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Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age
Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons