Post-pandemic, businesses no longer have centralized workforces. What does this mean for operations and management?
11 November 2022 at 12:41 United Kingdom Time (show in host time)
By: David Howell
We’re an Uber workforce now | UNLEASH
Why You Should Care
62% of businesses plan on tapping international talent pools in 2023 for borderless working.
98% of respondents want to or already have rethought their office space.
63% of CHROs say employee well-being levels have deteriorated since 2020.
COVID-19, the war in Europe/Ukraine, and shifting work patterns have impacted all enterprises and reshaped business processes and how all stakeholders will be supported in the future.
In this brave new world of recruitment, talent management and a re-drawing of the employment landscape, businesses are now designing new approaches to work.
A so-called Über workforce is connected, believes their employer is forward-thinking and supports their career goals.
“If the workforce believes in the company’s mission, then flexibility follows,” says James Tweed, the founder and managing director of digital learning company Coracle.
“If the workforce isn’t engaged then it’s no surprise that staff turnover is high. In a world of change, organizations should double down on training and supporting staff to build loyalty, because loyalty is the key to flexibility.”
Enterprises are also looking across the globe to find the talent they need. New Perkbox research found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of businesses plan to tap international talent pools in the next year to shift towards ‘borderless working’ models.
“One of the main challenges businesses will face is aligning a diverse and distributed workforce to the same unified purpose and culture,” Gautam Sahgal, CEO at Perkbox, tells Unleash.
“How do we get everyone from all these different backgrounds and with all these different perspectives to believe in the same thing — the company mission and purpose? In a borderless world, business leaders need to ensure that employee experience becomes a central pillar around which company culture is built and communicated.”
Can we define next-generation workforces? Christa Quarles, CEO at Alludo, believes these workers are already waiting for the right company: “I would say that everyone in this new world of work is a next-generation employee. As knowledge workers, we depend overwhelmingly on technology to do our jobs. That was true before the pandemic-induced shift to remote work and is exponentially more relevant now.”
In addition, what work means and how workforces are created, defined, and nurtured are also moving through a period of transformation.
Businesses that can flex to become agile enterprises with workers that can also pivot and work effectively from any location yet maintain a strong culture will define their industries and sectors.
The digital and the physical
Digital working spaces have been evolving since the inception of the internet. The pandemic accelerated the deployment of digital communications and productivity tech stacks, often with little thought to employee experience and security.
Experience is of paramount importance today as workforces have transformed and demand more control and flexibility with how and where they work.
Closely tied to these changes is how wellbeing is being supported across organizations. Employees now expect high levels of career progression and good work-life balance which is often tied to how technologies have been deployed.
Josh Brenner, CEO at Hired, points to clearly defined support as the key to talent acquisition and retention: “A lack of growth and advancement opportunities is one of the top five stresses at work.
“Therefore, providing clear development opportunities from when an employee is hired will motivate them to stay with the employer.
“In addition, artificial intelligence and machine learning can streamline HR systems, protect critical data and be used by successful businesses, so employees are looking for businesses that invest in the technologies that help them grow. Therefore, businesses that employ these technologies will attract the next generation.”
A mass return to physical working spaces is clearly not on the strategic development roadmaps of most businesses. Indeed, in their report, Slack showed a massive shift, with 98% of respondents wanting to or have already rethought their office space or deployed hybrid working technologies.
Listening to employees that have changed perspectives as they see their work evolving before their eyes is essential. And, of course, workers looking for their next post is more discerning and evaluate the values of the businesses that want their talent. The hybrid worker is coming into focus.
Enterprises that are fast to define hybrid worker drivers will win the battle for the essential talent they need to innovate at speed.
HR is tasked with supporting new business processes, and a shifting workforce will need to take a holistic approach.
Employee engagement can be challenging with dispersed workforces. With recruiting, can HRs illustrate technological enablement? How is well-being supported? And how is hybrid working also able to deliver great employee experiences?
“Gen Z and millennials are undoubtedly the natives in our digital-first world,” Justin Kearney, Group Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Logicalis Group, comments to UNLEASH.
“They have different values to previous generations, wanting to work for businesses who focus on flexibility and work-life balance. However, this younger workforce desire more than a corporate policy. As a result, organizations are turning to technology to create a truly collaborative hybrid workplace and manage the younger generations satisfactorily.”
And critically: “Out-dated technology can stunt the growth of such workplaces. Younger generations are becoming frustrated with slow computers and applications, hindering them from working effectively.
“Businesses that modernize their workplace technologies will have the right resources to nurture and encourage the talents of millennials and Gen Z.”
From an employee perspective, the fallout from the pandemic has been an erosion of employee support. According to NTT, 63% of CHROs say employee wellbeing levels have deteriorated since the start of the pandemic, with just a third (38%) of employees saying their employer fully values their health and wellbeing.
“As hybrid and remote working models become increasingly prevalent, technology is seen as the most important enabler of workplace strategies, followed by the quality of employee collaboration, employee wellbeing and the employee experience,” wrote NTT. “Our data indicates a significant opportunity to optimize is being missed.”
Work and workplaces have become fluid and dynamic environments. Managing existing hybrid workers and new recruits needs a flexible approach. The question of who is responsible for this strategy is multifaceted as workplaces have evolved.
Creating a seamless employee experience will require an understanding of each pressure point. Technology can certainly be a solution here, but workers must have practical inputs on the tools and services they will be asked to use.
And these tools and services must be within a secure environment as the threat perimeter has expanded as remote hybrid working becomes the norm.
Jeremy Campbell, executive coach, people and business transformation expert and CEO of Black Isle Group, concludes: “Our new mantra is that successful people consistently do what other people only occasionally do. That’s why we are so passionate about the methodology of everyday actions as the key to maximising performance in the hybrid world.
“As someone said to us recently – ‘with the right commitment, it’s almost impossible for it not to work’.”
Today’s Über workforce is empowered by integrated technologies they can access and use within a safe and secure environment. Smart businesses are creating hybrid working spaces – both physical and virtual – to support dispersed workers.
CHROs tasked with redefining what work means, the skills needed, and the talent required to meet stated business goals, also need to rapidly evolve their own skills and oversight.
The one size fits all approach to workforce management has been washed away by the tide of change driven by the pandemic.