The workplace is changing, drastically. Eric Mosley, co-founder and CEO of Globoforce, offers some insight into how that change will manifest and what companies need to do to keep up with the future of work.
The world is experiencing a workplace transformation. It is the perfect storm: fundamental changes in our workforce are combining with technologies to empower our HR leaders and our people as we move into the future of work.
An output of the human era in HR is the dismantling of old HR processes. The pillars of human capital management are truly crumbling. From performance reviews to performance ratings, forward-thinking organisations are looking past the old way of thinking and building new ways to connect the modern workforce. How companies inspire their people to achieve their fullest potential will be the core differentiator in the 21st century.
The ideal workplace of the future will be one where culture and humanity co-exist as business leaders’ foremost priorities for creating a ‘great place to work’ environment. This shift in priorities will continue to evolve and strengthen as companies realise that, more than ever, their successes rely upon the happiness and wellbeing of their employees; in other words, how human they can make their employees feel.
The modern workforce craves humanity as workplace dynamics continue to shift more to collectives, rather than individuals. Employees look for meaning and value at work, both in what they do and what they accomplish. They want to ultimately understand how their efforts help their company succeed. They desire recognition for their contributions to the organisation, and rely on management and colleagues to provide that validation and appreciation of their work.
‘The responsibility to provide a work environment where every employee feels included falls on the organisation’
Ultimately, companies that put employees first, recognise and appreciate them as their greatest assets, and foster humanity to allow for an individual to remain fulfilled in their current job, will reap the greatest benefits.
A culture of inclusivity will be essential
To me, an inclusive workplace is one where every employee – regardless of nationality, colour or race – is empowered to have a voice, feels respected, has a strong sense of belonging and is comfortable bringing his or her whole self to work.
As an entrepreneur and CEO of a technology company, I firmly believe in hiring employees on their merit, not on their sex, race, colour, nationality, personality, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. To me, a culturally diverse workplace is one that comprises a multigenerational workforce as well.
I believe that the responsibility to provide a work environment where every employee feels included falls on the organisation. To quote diversity advocate Verna Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
The need to build an inclusive workplace where diversity of thought and personality is respected has never been more important. Employees have a life outside of work as much as they have a life inside work. Unless organisations cater to the employee as a whole person, that employee will tend to have a deficit in their heart – a deficit of connections and friendships within their organisation, which can lead to disengagement and disenchantment.
Authors Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid correctly point out in a Harvard Business Review article – entitled Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion – that “part of the problem is that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be the same thing”. The writers further elaborate: “In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation and lead to business growth won’t happen.”
There is enough research to support that inclusion leads to innovation, and provides organisations with a competitive advantage. Inclusive workplaces help to attract and retain talent, as well as acquiring customers and business partners critical to an organisation’s success. It enhances a company’s reputation and corporate brand. It inspires creativity, and fosters a culture in which a range of perspectives and ideas are valued.
As human beings, we want to contribute in workplaces that are positive, joyous and inclusive. Therefore, it’s important to appreciate and recognise the good work of your employees. Build a more human culture that gives people a voice and makes them feel connected to your organisation’s mission. Respect diversity of thoughts and views. Treat employees as human beings. Allow employees to bring their whole selves to work. Put the human needs of an individual first and provide positive reinforcement. Blanket your company with good will and see for yourself how the energy levels of your employees rise up as a result. Cultivate a culture of trust.
‘Companies need to focus on keeping their employees happy and feeling recognised, particularly those employees who could be considered flight risks’
I firmly believe that culture makes all the difference in business. Culture is what helps to manage employees when managers are not around. Culture is what makes employees feel happier, more productive and more motivated to do great work. Culture is what makes employees want to stay with a company. It is culture that ultimately drives business success, so nurture it, build it and, most importantly, diversify it.
A healthy culture recognises diversity and inclusion and opens its arms for an employee to bring his or her whole self to the workplace.
The human experience will drive retention
Today, every organisation is clamouring for employees who are fully committed to their company’s mission and willing to invest discretionary energy to turn pipe dreams into reality. However, statistics show that it’s near impossible to find such employees, and even harder to retain them. So, what can organisations do? Where can they find committed employees? How can they retain, engage and inspire them to reach their fullest potential?
The answer is simple: in their own organisation.
The human experience goes a long way towards helping employees feel more assured in their jobs, which means they’re more likely to remain with a company for a longer period of time. Yet, even though the economy grows stronger, this presents a challenge to companies, given that increasing job opportunities mean employees can become more tempted to pursue new jobs, or develop higher expectations of their current company.
To prevent turnover, companies need to focus on keeping their employees happy and feeling recognised, particularly those employees who are high performers and could be considered flight risks.
‘When people are part of a winning, performance-driven team, stronger results and connections occur within a company’
A new global research study from IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute and Globoforce’s WorkHuman research institute – The Employee Experience Index: A new global measure of a human workplace and its impact – finds that employees who experience a higher level of humanity at work tend to perform better, and are less likely to quit their jobs.
The study also finds that a more human environment may help organisations retain their talent. Analysis shows that employees with less positive experiences are more than twice as likely to say they want to leave compared to those with much more positive experiences (44pc versus 21pc). Additionally, 83pc of employees report having a positive employee experience when they feel recognised for the good work they do, compared to 38pc who don’t receive recognition.
Discretionary effort is nearly twice as high in strongly human work environments (95pc compared to 55pc), suggesting that a stronger employee experience can contribute to higher motivation levels to go ‘above and beyond’ typical job duties.
These figures emphasise a major need for more ‘human’ workplaces and corporate cultures. With this information, we can also delve deeper and see first-hand that one of the biggest drivers of job-hopping for employees is a lack of recognition or sense of appreciation within the office. We can act on these metrics and draw parallels to see exactly what needs to be done to remedy such issues.
The trends that will define everything
As we look ahead to the future, taking all of the above into consideration, there are six trends that can be seen as catalysts toward the new way of thinking, catapulting organisations towards long-term, sustained growth.
1. Continuous conversations and feedback
Annual performance reviews are an outdated model – a relic of old HR processes. HR is moving towards continuous conversations. These regular check-ins align employees behind an organisation’s priorities. Built into these conversations is employee feedback. The heavier concentration for feedback will naturally veer toward the positive side, which is the proven way to elevate performance and meet employees’ higher-level needs.
Crowdsourced recognition is a critical component of that positive feedback, empowering the entire company to recognise great achievements and behaviours. It also provides managers with data points from throughout the year to reinforce the type of performance the company seeks. It turns performance management into a frequent, ongoing and more natural human exercise, building trust with organisational leaders and optimising performance.
2. Crowdsourced ‘reward and pay’
HR is heading toward the re-architecting of pay. The new model leverages the ‘crowd’ to determine where the money flows, matching reward with performance to unify and direct people toward company priorities. According to joint research from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Globoforce, organisations that dedicate 1pc or more of payroll toward social recognition are more likely to report greater impacts on financial outcomes.
3. Team engagement
When people are part of a winning, performance-driven team, stronger results and connections occur within a company. Team engagement is a critical component of the employee experience, higher in importance than both individual and company engagement.
Today’s companies are a series of teams, where the work happens on a daily basis and where the strongest employee connections are built. By uncovering and recognising individual strengths, the team is more empowered and efficient, as people are able to thrive with their personal skills and abilities.
4. The new role of a coach
The role of the manager is fundamentally changing from ‘command and control’ to ‘inspire and empower’. Decades of research has long proven the need for managers and leaders to provide higher levels of empathy towards employees, with the aim of developing and growing their skills and strengths.
Forward-thinking companies around the world are driving this shift toward contemporary management. It’s moving towards a more human approach, through which managers become mentors to their people and teams, coaching, teaching and guiding. It’s also the underlying foundation to making continuous conversations and feedback possible; the human element and interaction that gives meaning to words and meaning to work.
5. HR as culture facilitator
The megatrends reshaping business and management put HR in the position of coach to the entire organisation. HR as the facilitator of the culture becomes the enabler to drive a more human workplace and positive employee experience, breaking down past bureaucracies.
Each employee is at the centre of their journey within the company. New technologies are enabling HR processes and functions to be centred around each individual employee. These personalised apps can create an experience that focuses on an employee’s own cycles, projects and milestones or service anniversaries with the company. This brings an employee’s uniqueness and needs to the forefront, using technology to create a better human connection and adding relevance to the employee experience.
Research shows that driving a positive employee experience results in stronger business results. According to the Employee Experience Index, a positive employee experience is linked to better performance, greater discretionary effort and intent to stay at a company.
Data will drive HR change
With the amount of data available now, HR is shifting toward cognitive HR, which allows organisations to explore employee data to predict outcomes and share valuable insights. For example, social recognition data can help generate many data points, including the core values that are key to an organisation: employee productivity and morale, cross-functional teams and high-potential employees, to name a few.
These shifts can only be successful with widespread adoption and a philosophical shift within an organisation.
Progress is only possible with a new mindset: to lead with empathy, not fear; to move ahead and allow employees to explore new, game-changing ideas. Many companies are shifting to a ‘fail fast’ approach – a lean organisation that drives continual, incremental wins. This approach gives employees more empowerment and autonomy to align their work endeavours towards ideas and projects that can fundamentally change a company’s upward trajectory.
Investment in employees pays off exponentially. Be thankful and appreciative of employees. Be the change agent who creates a more positive workplace, fosters better teamwork, coaches and guides employees, and rewards them for their contributions.
By Eric Mosley
Eric Mosley is the CEO and co-founder of Globoforce. Mosley is leading the charge to dismantle old HR processes and challenge organisations to build new ways to connect the modern workforce. He is the author of The Crowdsourced Performance Review and co-author of the award-winning The Power of Thanks.