- Those that differentiate and evolve, win.
- There is no going back to ‘normal,’ and there are significant changes needed to attract top talent.
The pages of history are sprinkled with stories of revolutions- large and small, peaceful and violent, silly and vital. Yet, while there is a diverse spectrum of causes, one constant remains: revolution is sparked with a desire to bridge the gap between what is and what could be.
For as long as human history has stood, so has the need to work; it has taken on various forms and faces over the years. For our ancestors, work was hunting and gathering; for many of us, work is sitting at a desk from 9 am to 5 pm, wondering if the cavemen ever dreaded their jobs this much.
It sounds like it is time for a revolution. Maybe it is already happening. Those companies that are laser-focused on who they are, the mission they’re hoping to accomplish, and the values and behaviours that get them there are the ones that will win the war for talent and thrive in the years to come.
What are some of the changes they’re making?
a) Asynchronous. According to a Microsoft report, for many companies (more specifically, teams within companies that can have their work done outside traditional hours) 9-5 workdays will be a thing of the past. As a result, we’re already seeing that several organizations are providing increased flexibility for their employees. Taking it one step further, many employees will have the opportunity to work when they want to work and as much as they want to. Sounds too good to be true? Take a look at the gig economy; this is already happening for freelancers; they have abundant choices in their work.
Increased flexibility and project-based work will further shape the workplace of tomorrow. Blockchain will also enable immediate payment for tasks, the way we know and understand salaries could be gone. As a result of expanding flexibility within the workplace, it may be possible for employees to create multiple sources of income – instead of just one which typically comes from a 9-5 job.
b)4 is the new 5. While it certainly isn’t limited to Belgium, many companies are testing a 4-day workweek. This doesn’t mean people will work less necessarily, it just might mean the workdays are a little longer or more flexible. Having that extra day on the weekend is something many of us would appreciate, right?
2. Corporate Social Responsibility
a) Going Green. Have you walked around the grocery store and seen the vegan section growing lately? Many companies see this as an opportunity to align personal and organizational values to attract certain people. As a result, going green will be the norm. Quite a few notable companies have created campaigns centred on the environment. For example, H&M announced its sustainability collection. Several other prominent organizations have launched environmentally conscious initiatives, such as IKEA, Home Depot, Nike, Apple, TOMS, Amazon, and Google. Each of these companies has not only made public statements- but has also incorporated initiatives unique to their individual companies that appeal to their customer base. Home Depot is a great example, urging its buyers to research and participate in eco-friendly options such as solar. This program alone has saved an estimated 76 billion gallons of water and added $903 million in energy expenses.
b) Taking a Stand. While many might think that the social stance Nike took with Colin Kaepernick or Gillette took with their positive masculinity commercial was only to sell more products, these stances became recruitment tools for the companies. Remember the George Floyd protests? Estimates vary, but between 18-26 million people marched the streets across America in 2021. Companies fail to attract the best; most aligned talents are missing this opportunity to take a stand and align with their personal values. They know that while they can’t be everything to everyone, a social stance allows them to be exactly who they need to be to those with similar values.
3. Intentional and Focused Benefits
Gone are the days when the ping-pong and foosball tables were our talent magnets. Can they be fun? Of course. But last time I checked, a subscription to Calm and ‘free’ lunch didn’t hold a candle to better childcare or a wellness day off. This work revolution will likely see increased parental leave, better mental and physical health benefits, and, most importantly, better leadership training and development.
The benefits of tomorrow will look a lot like the benefits of today, but much, much better. Work needs to be a place people want to be, not have to be, and while great benefits may attract talent, effective people-centred leadership keeps it. Benefits may include increased maternal and paternal leave, bereavement leave for pets, increased mental wellness days, and better support for both physical and mental health. Believe it or not, just this year doctors in Canada are now prescribing a one-year national park pass to improve patient’s mental and physical health.
4. Redesigned Office Spaces
Online work and hybrid offices have introduced much-needed flexibility and options for how and where we choose to do work. Many have realized that work can be done in various places and atmospheres. Because of that, many companies are choosing to reevaluate their current workplaces and create an appealing environment where employees don’t need to but rather want to come to work.
While this sounds great in theory, we have to recognize something important: one size does not fit all. Is the open office concept right for everyone? No, it never was and never will be. The cubicle? Nope. Remote work? For some. What is really needed? Connection, value, respect.
When I look at my crystal ball, I see that new social centers will be created within offices. Think airport lounges. These spaces will allow people to connect, collaborate, and clash (read: innovate). And when this isn’t possible, the time for people to connect outside of work will be key in enhancing trust, building camaraderie, and connection. Those that are focusing on building a safe, enjoyable workplace will win the revolution.
7. CEO Salary Caps
Here comes something a little more controversial. Conversations centred around payment equality within the workforce are mounting. Questions about the fairness of minimum wage workers or low salaries compared to CEOS of some companies that are getting paid up to 351x more.
Perhaps an even more eye-opening figure, The Economic Policy Institute reported that “CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978.” However, they go on to say, “Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time.”This isn’t to say that everyone deserves a raise, necessarily, or that CEO pay and comp should be less across the board, but consumers and employees alike are starting to take note and vote with their wallet and job application.
Where does this leave us?While the innovation and changes that companies are making to thrive in the future of work aren’t limited to the suggestion above, one thing is true: Those that are standing still are actually falling behind. To win the talent war, we must realize that when we try to be everything to everyone, we end up being nothing to anyone. And while there may be a talent war here today and a worse storm coming, the changes we make today to build incredible places to work are sure to pay off in the weeks, months, and years to come.
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