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Posts from the ‘employee engagement’ Category

The Future Workplace – Are You Ready?

Future Workplace ExperienceThe following post is by WFI board member, Jeanne C Meister, Partner at Future Workplace and Co-author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.

The future of work is about developing a workplace that emotionally connects to employees and customers, understands the impact of technology on the workplace and provides myriad ways to learn and grow on the job.

This is the call to action of my latest book, written with my colleague Kevin J. Mulcahy, The Future Workplace Experience. In our book, we include findings from The Future Workplace Forecast, a survey of 2,147 global HR leaders and Hiring Managers across seven countries and ten industries probing new practices companies are using to adapt to the future workplace.

We summarize these practices into ten rules to master disruption in the workplace. Here are three of those rules:

1. Make the Workplace an Experience: The essence of making the workplace an experience is to integrate all the components of work—the emotional, the intellectual, the physical, the technological and the cultural – into one seamless experience. The goal: the employee experience should mirror the best customer experience. Companies that excel at making the workplace an experience listen to what their employees and customers are saying, and then makes changes based on that feedback. One example of this is the Empathy Lab at Facebook, which gives Facebook engineers the chance to experience for themselves how employees and customers will use their products giving them an emotional connection to their customers. There is growing evidence that businesses are more profitable when they are empathetic to the needs of their customers. In fact, the top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2016 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings.

2. Pilot Artificial Intelligence in HR: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge market, predicted to surge from $8 billion this year to $47 billion by 2020, according to IDC. Some say it resembles the Internet in the mid 1990’s, and will be built into all kinds of products and services. Marketers are already using chatbots—or artificial intelligence computer programs designed to simulate a conversation through written or spoken text—to deliver personalized conversational experiences. One interesting new use case for chatbots is as learning assistants in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where the number of learners can range from hundreds to thousands. In 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology used chatbot Jill Watson as a teaching assistant for a MOOC entitled, Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence. According to Dr. Goel, the professor leading the MOOC, chatbot Jill Watson was able to answer 40% of student’s most frequently asked questions within one year, freeing the human Teaching Assistants to answer more complex questions. In addition to providing intelligent assistance during a course, AI can also help personalize the learning experience by capturing data and applying machine learning algorithms to create a Netflix-like learning experience where learning opportunities are recommended based on a user’s specific areas of interest.

3. Create Accessible On Demand Learning: According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that currently do not exist. This indicates that being a serial learner, constantly looking for new ways to grow and develop on the job, is now a requirement to stay employable. To enable serial learning, a growing number of companies are creating virtual corporate universities that combine a company’s proprietary courses with curated, publically available learning from MOOCs, Ted Talks, podcasts and blogs, to create a personalized learning pathway for learners. Creating more opportunities to access on-demand learning will continue to grow in importance as CEO’s like Randall Stephenson of AT&T challenge workers with this mandate: “Spend 5-10 hours a week learning online or become obsolete.” The message is clear: being a serial learner will help you to avoid technological unemployment.

The new world of work is not something we see in the future: it’s here. HR leaders must take action to prepare themselves, their teams and their organization for a workplace which requires constant upskilling, piloting new technologies and creating a culture where the workplace is an experience valued by both workers and their leaders.

I love the idea of the “Empathy Lab” at Facebook that helps employees acquire insight about how their customers experience Facebook. What’s your organization doing to get ready for the workplace of the future?

Human Middle Managers

office-620823_1920 Today’s guest post is courtesy of our board member, China Gorman. China is a consultant, speaker, writer, and former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute.

If you read any business publication – print or online – you’ll know that organization culture has become a critical advantage when competing for talent today. If the CEO and her C-suite commit to organizational values that promote the value of purpose, the building of trust, and the meaning of work, as well as the commitment to create real, personal relationships with colleagues – human-to-human rather than boss-to- subordinate – there is virtually no downside from an organizational performance perspective.

The tremendous productivity gains and culture-enhancing benefits promised by putting technology to use are huge. But using technology to create more human relationships and cultures at work is irony at its finest. Is there really an app for that?

Here’s where we need to focus: if we allow technology, Big Data, and predictive analytics to make it harder – rather than easier – for us to relate to each other on a more human level, we’ll have abdicated our responsibilities as leaders and missed an epic opportunity to improve our business outcomes.

If we miss this opportunity, it will most likely be because we neglected to set our first line supervisors and middle managers up for success. We’re notoriously ineffective at equipping these folks to be good relationship builders, behavioral leaders, and approachable partners with the human business of our businesses. We focus, instead on “hard” skills development, if we invest in their development at all.

As we maximize the benefits of technology, Big Data, and people analytics, we also need to invest in developmental opportunities for all of our managers – with a special emphasis on middle managers and first line supervisors. If these critical leaders aren’t focused on creating more personal relationships with their employees – including being equipped with skills, abilities, and attitudes to relate on a human level – if they aren’t approachable, if they aren’t trustworthy, if they aren’t human, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. My belief, though, is that what you’ve always gotten won’t be enough in 2017, 2018 or beyond. Bringing humanity into your culture through your first line supervisors and middle managers is a critical next step. But to do that will require focus and investment. Perhaps one of the most important investments in your 2017 plan.

What’s your organization doing to enable your first line supervisors and middle managers to become more effective leaders?  Are they able to coach and develop your employees?  Do they make the time to do so?

Consider the 50+ Intern

natalie bickfordThe following post is courtesy of our board member Natalie Bickford,  Group HR Director at Merlin Entertainments PLC.

I recently watched the 2015 film, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The premise is that Ben Whittaker (De Niro), a 70-year-old retired manager, returns to the workplace as a senior intern working for Jules Olsen (Hathaway), the CEO of a fast-growing online fashion retailer. This being a Hollywood film, of course the outcome is that Whittaker brings a wealth of experience, maturity, calm and common sense, and that the internship opportunity gives him a new lease on life, a sense of purpose, an ability to have an impact on this successful business, and a lot of new young friends.

The main thought that has stayed with me is that we will all need to work for much longer than our parents did. Traditionalists and Baby Boomers in the corporate world have typically worked for a small number of employers during their careers, and have been able to retire with reasonable retirement benefits, including pensions in some cases. My fellow Gen Xers have seen a swing in their working lives towards a more varied career with a range of organizations, and a recognition that we will need to work well into our sixties, if not into our seventies, in order to maintain a decent income for our longer life expectancies. And so it goes on down the generations.

So, if we are all going to work into our seventies, then at some point it is likely we will need to, or want to, try something new.

I have been an HR specialist for the vast majority of my career but could imagine working in animal welfare during my twilight years. My 68-year-old mother would love an internship in a Michelin-starred kitchen, and my husband dreams of retraining from banking to marine biology. Every single person over the age of 50 that I have spoken to on the subject has some alternative career options.

HR professionals are well aware that a diverse workforce – especially one that mirrors your client base – can improve business results. This diversity should include diversity of age, especially when by 2020 over-50s will make up a third of the UK workforce, and about 25% in the U.S. The engagement and employment of over-50s employees will be critical to economic growth over the coming years.

Could my mother bring some balance, calm, and mature leadership to a working kitchen? Definitely. Is she likely to be offered a position when her last paid role was some 20 years ago? Possibly not. So here is where the internship for older workers would come into play.

My searches have come up fairly short for companies that provide internships for older people. A couple of notable exceptions are Barclays, which launched its UK-based Barclays Bolder Apprenticeships in 2015, and Goldman Sachs with their US-based “Returnship Program”. Several organizations around the world offer support to older workers looking to get back in to work, including the likes of IRelaunch,com, silversurfers.com and opportunity50plus.com, but the pull from the corporate world is either missing or very tricky to find.

As HR professionals, I believe we have a wonderful opportunity to create enthusiasm about the benefits of bringing career changing senior interns into our businesses. Whether on a full- or part-time basis, those with many years of experience and learning should certainly bring both a mature and a fresh perspective to our organizations – and we should remember that these workers will also increasingly make up the majority of our client and consumer base. I would love to see The Intern’s Hollywood dream become a corporate reality.