What is the future of work?
Increased access to improved modern technology have levelled the playing field across sectors and regions of the world. People strategy has become more competitive than ever before. HR & People leaders & professionals have the daunting task of outdoing each other or at least being the first to build a workforce that leads their organization into the hyper-competitive future.
What does the future of work look like?
And how may HR / People leaders understand it and shape it as a key competitive differentiator for their business?
The first question is, ‘what is the future of work?’ how do HR & People leaders stay ahead of the competition and deliver the future of work? The first step is to understand that a clear strategy involving participation and effort from all the stakeholders is required = investors, board and executive team, leadership throughout the organisation, and all employees.
People leaders have to work across the business to help with internal and external up-skilling, including technology and service providers, to create an optimum hiring ecosystem and candidate experience that is better than the rest at every stage in the process.
This article outlines how People leaders can deliver for the future of work in their organisation. In essence, this whitepaper could be used as the handbook for the future of work.This strategy has fourteen elements to understand the future of work. Let us discuss them one by one. It is important to understand and build the future of work.
Read on to learn how to understand and deliver the future of work.
Fourteen ways to understand and shape the future of work
1. Culture in the future of work
The culture of an organisation helps talent thrive. Organisations must be willing to make an effort to create a culture that each and every employee appreciates.
To thrive, organisations need to attract talent. They require talent that is skilled, hardworking, and determined to achieve the organisation’s objectives. Creating an outstanding and desirable employment culture is the best way to attract key specialised talent. Employers should take the initiatives to continually build a fabulous brand and culture of leadership and innovation to ensure that great talent chooses to stay and thrive.
Organisations need to nurture an exceptional work culture.
People leaders need to ensure that their culture embodies its distinct values. This is a foundation stone for the future of work.
These parameters are vital in creating the best work culture:
a. Base your culture on trust
Trust is the foundation on which companies need to build strong and genuine relationships with their employees. Employees who feel that their company can be relied upon feel safe. They don't feel the need for added security. Creating trust goes a long way in creating the right kind of day-to-day open and creative environment.
An employer that can showcase understanding and genuine engagement keeps worries and stress away from employees and allows them to focus on work.
The pandemic has been a great example. Organisations across the globe were forced to lay off employees and cut costs. Whilst this was going on, some companies that valued their existing talent saw the pandemic as a temporary threat and took the measures required to keep their employees on the payroll using furloughs as an alternative option. For some, this meant taking bridging loans to keep their employees on the payroll. Whilst this did mean that they were under financial pressure, when work began to return to normal, they did not face the shortage of talent faced by other businesses in the same sector, or the spike in costs and time to rehire the right key people.
b. Understand the current culture
The first step to bring about change is to understand and benchmark the current situation.
It is vital to conduct an analysis of what the work culture is at the moment. The analysis will expose the behaviour and practices that are below the desired standard for the future of work. This knowledge will provide a foundation to work on and build a better organisational culture.
To understand where you stand, take these simple steps:
• Develop a survey to ask how employees view the organisation, and the future of work they prefer
• Ask them what they think about the organisation’s culture?
• Observe your employee behaviours and interactions both with each other, and with customers
c. Define your goals for the future of work culture you desire
Deciding that your organisation needs a good work culture is merely a thought. The thought has to be put into action. To act upon the thought, the desired goal must be clear.
Understand what kind of culture is essential for you and your business by discussing, agreeing, and planning, as a board and executive leadership team, a differentiated and suitable People Strategy for your business.
Understand what message you want to send to your employees, potential candidates, and customers.
Once you have a clearly defined goal, communicate that goal with your team.
d. Set clear goals and expectations, to build the future of work
Once you have defined your goals, set realistic timelines to achieve them, and a minimum acceptable change within a specified period, understand that change takes time and consistent effort. It is also important to be aware that your desired goals have to incorporate some flexibility into them.
While working towards specific goals, organisations may observe thatthose goals have to be changed, as micro day-to-day, and other macrotrends and forces, mean an adjustment to the People Strategy isrequired.
It could be because they may no longer be in the company's best interestor that other goals become a priority. Ensure that you can make thechanges required to accommodate that kind of flexibility as the future ofwork evolves.
e. Measure your cultural goals
A clearly defined goal is essential, and it is equally essential to measuresuccess in achieving or failing to achieve the said goal. Employers must layout ways of measuring the changes in culture as well. One way to do this isto send out surveys. This could determine if your employees feel a markeddifference in their motivation levels.
Now, and into the future, all workers will have heightened expectationsfrom a place of work.
The future of work will embrace the following, and be requested andrequired by employees:
● Camaraderie amongst colleagues
● Involvement in the workplace after hours
● Representation on virtual teams to shape the future of work
● Transparency in communication
● Real Diversity is valued, and contributions included
● Clear brand values that deliver for the greater good
● Success is celebrated
● Senior people leaders are easy to access
● No internal office politics
● Opportunities for professional development are present
2. Strong training / L&D for a bright future of work
Training, learning, and development are areas in which businesses across all sectors must invest.
Any employees, at all levels in the organisation, must be ready to garner new skills. They have to use the latest tools available, be qualified to understand data, be able to analyse and interpret it, and be more empathetic.
HR departments need to learn where talent pools are available and how to make the future of work more diverse.
The goal being that the whole of the diverse melting-pot output is greater than the sum of the individual employee parts.
This means understanding new cultures, understanding how talent from different backgrounds can work together, and what kind of special diversity combination can result in a more effective teams and improved results
A major part of the future of work is to understand the psychology of humans. It will be vital to invest to learn more about human psychology.
It could be workplace psychology, corporate psychology, business psychology, or just a basic certificate in psychology so that you can pinpoint talent that may need a little extra support.
Being computer savvy was enough a few years ago. Now people leaders have to understand how data is collected, how it is analysed, and how to create reports. Some tools can carry out these functions. However, understanding the system's workings makes it easier to know how the results came about. This knowledge will also mean that future people leaders are better prepared to resolve impediments.
The next vital future of work step is ensuring the ongoing training of employees, to ensure cutting edge skillsets remain sharp.
Investment by organisations in learning and development programmes has risen significantly. Strong future-orientated leadership in progressive organisations are making great efforts to find ways to give their employees more access to learning and development platforms as a priority employment benefit.
Employers need employees who can take charge of constantly improving themselves, which means that employers seek value in their workforce by investing in their education and learning. To keep pace with such a rapidly evolving world.
The future of work requires that candidates and employees realise the value of adding new skills, given the current dynamic and competitive job market; they too are looking for future workplaces that will enable their upskilling and give them the space to hone their talents.
Here are some areas that organisations should encourage future L&D:
● Anti-bias and diversity training
Here are the ways that the future workforce would best absorb these learnings:
● Byte sized learning
● Personalised learning
Investing in training and development is a must for those looking to understand and navigate to the new needs and requirements of the future of work. Learning and development are areas that must be worked on constantly to achieve success and remain steadily ahead of competing organisations.
3. Communication in future of work
Creating an open and transparent way of communication is vital for those looking to evolve the future of work and employment.
Well planned, regular, and open communication helps in improving transparency and transferring information across the company. It also creates a strong team.
An environment where employees can communicate openly and freely is necessary for building a close-knit and efficient team. Employees should be able to approach any of their superiors in the future and let them know what they need.
Inversely in the future of work, employers should be able to approach their employees and tell them what isn't going according to plan and what they expect from them to improve the situation and results.
The effort towards creating better communication requires input and effort from all stakeholders.
4. Leadership in the future of work
Leadership is an imperative characteristic in the future of work.
In the past, leadership has been a quality sought after for positions of authority. Over the years, this has changed.
The future of work requires strong and able leaders on every level.
Employees need to take ownership of everything they do. This means that they need to be given the authority to make their own decisions and take full responsibility for everything they do.
Leadership also means being accountable, that is, responsible for one’s productivity and results, and responsible for their actions and delivering against business and personal objectives.
Organisations should not put extreme efforts into motivating their workforce. The ideal future of work needs all employees to be self motivated.
How can this be achieved? The easiest way to achieve this goal is to hire people who exhibit self-motivation, an innate desire to do their best and be the best. Organisations need to foster such an environment.
Empower, delegate, be clear, and trust employees. Let them take ownership of the tasks they need to carry out. Give them the freedom and authority they need.
An example of this being a need can be observed from a recent trend. When companies initiated work from home models, there was an adjusting period. However, over time, employees acquired the ability to manage themselves, which has become ever more important as remote and hybrid working patterns have become embedded.
“Nearly 75% of respondents working virtually prefer to continue doing so as opposed to working in a physical workplace full- or part-time”.
– Forbes, August 2021
Employees had displayed the enhanced ability to manage themselves and desired to continue to manage themselves.
Senior leaders of the future workforce need to give their teams space to create their path and become the best versions of themselves. It does not mean that people leaders have to take a backseat. It just means that they can focus on other important tasks and be clear how all the team’s tasks and contributions are crucial to delivering the organisation’s priority objectives and business results.
5. Behaviour in the future of work
In the future of work there should be certain types of behaviour exhibited. It should be a behaviour that reflects the organisation's culture and demeanor, aligned with the business objectives.
Employers need to reinforce the desired behaviour with rewards and appropriate recognition.
Another aspect contributing to encouraging the right kind of behaviour is creating a safe work environment. Creating a culture of universal acceptance is vital in the future of work.
As the future world of work becomes a smaller interconnected place, workplaces naturally become more diverse. Efforts must be made to make it so. Workplaces will see an influx of new and varying cultures, behaviours, and norms.
Make sure your future workforce is culturally intelligent. What this does for organizations is that it frees employees of their inhibitions. As a part of the future of work, employees should not be worried about who they are or how they are different. Instead, they should embrace their strengths, and focus on their jobs and being more productive.
Businesses can use techniques such as Insights behavioural profiling to help employees and teams to understand each other, and perform more effectively together.
There are four types of Insights behaviour:
- Candidates who demonstrate enthusiasm are more engaging, positive, sociable, persuasive, and demonstrative can be classified as the yellow category.
- The blue category consists of candidates who exhibit behaviour that is cautious, precise, deliberate, inquisitive, organised, and formal.
- Those that belong to the red category are competitive, demanding, purposeful and strong-willed.
- The caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, and relaxed people are put under the green category
Having the right mix of personality types goes a long way in making a future workplace more productive. In the future of work, employees need to understand their own Insights profile, and how best to work with colleagues who may exhibit a different profile behaviour.
6. Valuing employees in the future of work
For an employee to feel valued, organisations need to take appropriate steps. Employees have to see and feel that employers notice their contributions. This behaviour has to be ingrained into everyday culture.
Communicate with your employees frequently, praise them earnestly and often. Another great way to ensure that employees feel valued is to share news of how the business is doing.
In the future of work organisations will be expected to share forward looking plans. Organisations will be expected to inform employees on how they can contribute to achieving these goals.
The result will be a workforce that knows what they need to do and becomes more willing to work harder to achieve those goals for their organisation.
7. Recognising and rewarding employees in the future of work
It may not seem too different from the previous point, but employers need to strengthen their efforts in recognising employees and rewarding them appropriately.
It could be by offering them a few days of paid leave or sending them on a meditation retreat. Make your rewards appropriate and valuable.
Employers need to move away from the traditional rewards that have become commonplace and give employees rewards that enhance their lives.
Organisations have to put much more effort into being sincere and showing employees that they are truly valued. This means that organisations will have to reconfigure their budgets. But they will reap the benefits of a more emotionally connected workforce.
Employers can encourage employees to recognise each other's contributions on a peer to peer level. Let employees choose the mostinspirational worker for that week. Employees could even be asked to vote to select the employee of the month. Peer recognition is extremely valuableto employees.
Rewards and recognition also involve getting personal with employees. Wementioned earlier those rewards have to enhance your employees' lives. Employers must be invested in their workforce. All people leaders must understand their employees at a personal level.
While larger organisations may find it a challenge to ensure that each of their employees receives personal attention, they can still offer a variety of benefits such as medicare for their families and mental health care at subsidized prices, and ensure that people-leaders harness reward and recognition programmes to recognise their people and teamwork.
8. The future of work means bringing contractors, service providers, and consultants into the fold
There is an imminent need for separate structures to become one. Employers, recruiters, consultants, service providers, and every stakeholder involved in leading, creating and delivering results for the business, and needs to be on the same page in every aspect.
Employers, and their service-providers, need to be proactive in letting their contractors and consultants know that they expect their employees to be of a certain high standard, and that they will be treated in a certain way during recruitment.
Employers must inform contractors that they are shifting towards a greener future and will only work with them if they are willing to move in the same direction.
Businesses across all sectors and geographies need to be aware that future workforce requirements are likely to be quite fluid, which means there may be sudden spikes in demand for talent.
9. Create a powerful future employer brand
The employer brand may be the most critical aspect of the future of work.
A strong workforce stays with an organisation and attracts like-minded individuals to make the company successful.
Candidates today make an immense effort in researching the positions and the company. Organisations must be mindful of the fact that candidate perception about the brand and culture is vital.
Employer brand extends beyond just the organisation, though. All service providers involved in the hiring, onboarding, and human resource management also have to have a positive image that aligns with the organisations they are hiring for and portrays the same kind of culture.
Here are six quick steps to start your future of work employer branding strategy
a. Analyse your image
The first step is to understand how potential candidates perceive an organisation. Send out surveys and analyse the data on your social media channels. This will help organisations gauge the current perception of candidates. It is equally vital to collect feedback from existing employees to understand how they perceive the organisation.
Ask questions such as:
"Was the job post clear?”
"Did the post communicate the company's culture?”
"How can we improve the recruitment process?”
"How was your onboarding journey?”
"What could be done to make your first day better?”
There are a variety of questions that can be asked. Add some open ended questions and analyse the data thoroughly.
b. Set goals
Be clear on how the organisation should be perceived. Be clear on the kind of experience organisations want to provide to candidates and work towards that. Set clear and achievable goals.
This could be done by ensuring better feedback throughout the hiring journey. Background checks need to be done, and they need not be invasive and cumbersome. Using the right tools and vendors to carryout background checks can add immense value to the candidate’s experience.
c. Develop a strategy
Create a well-structured strategy once the perception is clear and the desired employer branding goals are set. It takes time, effort, and some investment. But you will reap the benefits soon.
d. Define your EVP
Be vocal about what a specific organisation offers to employees that cannot be found elsewhere. Organisations need to show employees that they are willing to do whatever it takes to attract and retain them. Be clear about your employee value proposition.
The top five desired elements of an employee value proposition are:
● Work-life balance
e. Measure the results
Once the strategy is created and implemented, organisations often make the mistake of believing that the task is complete. It is vital that the right questions are asked and that results are measured and remeasured on a regular basis.
● Are you getting the right kind of talent?
● Are your employees happier?
● Has your social media engagement increased?
● Are you getting more applications?
● How effective is each stage of the hiring process?
The results will reveal what areas require more attention and what changes need to be made to the strategy.
Organisations need to be willing to work on constantly improving the branding strategy.
f. Focus on great content
Content is one of the most critical aspects of creating a powerful employer brand. You need great content. Potential candidates need toengage with an organisation's content.
There are several ways to create great content that resonates with people:
● Short clips and videos describing the work environment
● Show what you do as a business
● Let your employees be your advocates
● Share candid employee testimonials
● Share employees' daily routines
● Showcase your efforts towards being more environmentally conscious
● Create interactive content
Of course, this does mean making adjustments to the budget. However, the results are well worth the expenditure.
10. Designing the right future hybrid work culture
Candidates are looking for a certain amount of flexibility. After the shift to working from home, employees have a marked desire to spend more timeat home and less time at the office.
While there may be apprehensions for organisations that were adversely impacted by the initial move, the future of work requires that employees have the flexibility to work from their home according to their own life priorities, with the right level of time at the same physical location for important business and team working and relationship-building sessions.
An article by Forbes shows that up to 84% of employees desire a certain amount of flexibility to choose when and how they work from their home.
Technology has advanced dramatically in a brief period. Moreover, it hasbecome more accessible. Finding ways to make the “work from home”principle beneficial to your employees and your organisation is vital. With the right technology to aid organisations and the right security measures,the advantages of adopting a hybrid work model are numerous.
Employees would appreciate more time at home with their families. Flexible work schedules that allow employees to work from home for a few days amonth could be seen as a hygiene aspect of the future of work.
It is also vital that periodically the whole workforce and teams come together in the same location, to the strengthen the culture, buildrapport, and enhance working relationships.
Humans build relationships and connections better when they meet face-to-face.
Of course, if such events and meetings are planned, they are important financial and psychological investments for a business and cannot be cancelled or moved at the last minute. Such a move would have adetrimental effect on employee morale.
11. Important to align stakeholders in the future of work
At first, understand who the stakeholders are. Once there is a clear pictureof the various people involved, you must bring them under a common agenda and step-by-step priorities. This cumulative effort will aid in buildingthe future of work consistently and effectively over the longer-term.
Senior leaders in organisations need to send out a clear and concise communiqué to all functional leadership colleagues to share precisely what they require and how the shared goals can be achieved.
12. Future empowered diverse workplaces
Diversity has been touched upon in this document. But what does it mean to empower diverse workplaces?
Organisations need to stress the importance of diversity and every opportunity and foster it into the future. A clear picture must be formed of what kind of diversity is desired and why that diversity is required.
To truly empower that diversity, the key is to share what is different and ensure that the entire workforce understands, is empathetic, and accepts the differences.
The result would be a workforce that does not in any way feel disconnected. Instead, their unique backgrounds or cultures would bring more value to the workplace.
One way to celebrate diversity is to let people showcase their backgrounds and cultures and bring something to work to share with their colleagues.
13. Defined Performance in the future of work
In the future of work employees cannot be expected to deliver anorganization's desired results on the first day. An organisation must create the right environment for its people to succeed.
Organisations must set clear goals.
Be clear about what is expected of the workforce, and extended service providers, over short, medium, and longer-term timeframes.
Set goals for every aspect of your organisation. Right from developing recruiting goals to performance goals for your workforce.
There has to be a renewed focus on performance. You can do this by measuring your employees’ performance at every step, both individually, and collectively.
Here are a few tips for measuring performance:
● Define your measurable performance expectations, linked to delivering business plan priorities
● Provide consistent feedback, coaching, and mentoring
● Have regular performance appraisal and evaluation meetings
● Set clear outlines of performance rewards and consequences
● Collect feedback from your employees
● Review the performance review process and try to improve it
14. Getting the HRTech right, and future-proofed
A vital part of engineering a strategy, implementing it, and effectively executing the plan for the future of work is to make sure that the rightintegrated and connected HR technology is used.
It is vital that the HRTech used is integrated, and suitably spans the 7stages of the selection process.
It means making sure that people leaders, HR / talent teams, need to use the right kind of HRTech tools to ensure that they are accessing thebest talent and funnelling that talent into their organisations, using seamless digital solutions.
It is a must to have powerful, intelligent, and secure HRM software to ensurethat your HR professionals are working on perfecting the people policy.
While every aspect of every job is becoming more integrated with technology, there are security issues. Make sure HRTech providers have an intense focuson security.
Innovative HRTech providers like Veremark provide the Verepass CareerPassport, based on blockchain technology, to maintain the authenticity andsafety of the verified career credentials of candidates, to deliver faster and cost effective hiring of the best talent.
There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into understanding and shaping the future of work. People leaders across organisations must use their collectiveexperience to understand and shape the future of work for their organisation, in order to be progressive, competitive and deliver results.
The fourteen steps that are covered in this document are important building blocks to ensure that the future of work is shaped positively as an organisation’s greatest asset.
Choose innovative and future-proofed service providers, across the candidate / employee journey, that focus on building trust and lasting relationships.
With tools like Veremark's Verepass Career Passport, organisations benefit from quicker background checking verification procedures for faster, accurate hiring and onboarding decisions. Holders of the Verepass Career Passport do not require extensive background checks every time, as only the latest experiences need to be screened to bring everything up-to-date.
Veremark's Verelink API connectivity helps you to build an integrated HRTech infrastructure to underpin the overall hiring and selection process.
Budgets can be used wisely when shaping the future of work.
Veremark gives its clients Verepay pay-as-you-use options, which mean that organisations can always request background screening for one employee orone thousand employees, and only pay for what their business requires.
We are here to help you shape the future of work for your business.