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It’s official: We’ve entered the 2020s. The turn of the decade marks significant change—from new technology to the where and how we work. It begs the question: What does the future of work look like? We’re only halfway through 2020, and organizations have already experienced incredible amounts of disruption. Moving forward, companies will have to continue adapting to fast-paced change. 

An organization’s HR department, above all, is tasked with helping employees and managers understand what change means for their jobs. For example, will innovations in AI and machine learning mean robots will replace specific roles? Will remote work become the norm across teams? These types of questions are important—even in a post-COVID world—and still require answers. Here are 6 steps that HR teams, managers or employees can take to help make the new decade their most successful yet:

1. Take Calculated Risks

Many employees are afraid of taking risks.  It could be that they're unsure of what's permitted at work or the repercussions of failure. But taking calculated risk (under the right circumstances, of course) is healthy for a career. Many successful businesses thrive because they encourage  employees to take risks and challenge the status quo. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg said

Risk-taking can also support career growth and leverage untapped creativity from employees. To motivate employees to become more comfortable taking risks, consider helping them take advantage of opportunities that will help them learn and grow in their career. Encourage them to regularly take a step back and weigh their options—make a list of potential risks and courses of action aligned to them. This approach will help them be adventurous, but now act on emotion or be held back by fear. 

Indeed, risk-taking can be scary. But employees who take risks can create something powerful, whether it be a new product or a completely different way of doing things. And if they don’t succeed, they will learn from their mistakes and apply those learnings the next time they take a risk. 

2. Deliver Results

Many organizations today look at their employees based on how much profit they create for the company. This metric, best known as profit per employee, is a measure of net income over twelve months time divided by the current number of full-time employees. 

As a result, employees are feeling stressed and pressured to perform. But there are ways to combat this worry. Employees can hone in on three objectives: aligning their goals with organizational targets, delivering quantifiable results and maintaining skills that allow them to be agile and quickly pivot any course of action. To help encourage these behaviors, HR teams can encourage employees to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, relevant and time-based goals). This approach helps to provide clear direction, quantify areas of opportunity and highlight successes.

3. Always Be Learning 

Businesses and the positions they hire for evolve—precipitated by technological and economic changes.   

In order to grow and develop in their career, employees need to actively and continuously develop new skills. Investing in learning and development programs pays dividends for organizations and their employees: One study found that companies with well-financed L&D programs benefited from improved employee performance.

HR leaders, in turn, must focus on the organization’s future needs. Search for talent with transferable, applicable skills like communication, change management and leadership—or invest in programs that will teach these skills to your employees. 

4. Embrace the Technology Revolution

There’s no doubt that technology is rapidly changing the workplace. The majority of business functions are moving toward using more automation, digital solutions and big data—yet there's a shortage of technical talent.

That's why employers must invest in growing their own. In a recent survey, 92% of respondents said they will need more employees with technical skills and 57% said they plan to reskill workers. In some cases, training will occur for positions that don’t yet exist. Therefore, professionals who possess the right technological skills—or are willing to gain them—will be in high demand for years to come. 

5. Think From an Abundance Mindset

When leaders operate using an abundance mindset, they understand there’s room for everyone to succeed, and winning doesn’t require someone else on your team to lose. Encourage employees to adopt this mindset by performing it daily: For example, it’s likely that much of your employees’ work will involve participating as a member of a team. Help team members understand the importance of collaboration and take action if you notice someone isolating themselves from colleagues. Work on improving their mindset, and behaviors will follow

6. Mentorship is So 2000—Get a Personal Board of Directors Instead 

Every successful employee knows that having a professional mentor is  priceless. If done right, the relationship yields many benefits, including management opportunities and salary increases. In the coming decade, it will be vital to level up this relationship: Instead of relying on one mentor for all your professional needs, encourage employees to create a personal board of directors that will provide insight from different points of view. The team might be made up of people with different job titles and experience levels, such as a CFO, CHRO, COO and CMO. Make sure the board can uncover skills gaps,, instill operational knowledge and provide opportunities for growth—both personally and professionally. 

Above all, to create a career that continues to thrive, workers must define what success looks like to them and then consistently work towards that goal. And by adopting new approaches to reach them, employees will stay relevant and indispensable even in our rapidly changing workplaces. 

For more ways to make the most of the coming decade, read tips from Cornerstone’s AVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller here.   

Lisa A. Holmes View all

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