A woman is wearing a yellow top and sitting at her desk doing work, symbolising presenteeism.
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Results will trump presenteeism in workplaces of the future

26 Aug 2020

Employers of the future will learn to value what you achieve over how long you spend at your desk, writes MSD’s Lorraine Kenny.

Click here to the view the Future of Work Week series.

Today’s candidates require more than just a job; they want career growth, agile work practices, a sense of purpose and to work for an employer they can be proud of. This has never been more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the future of work and the opportunity to take creative approaches to the traditional workplace and workday has been a topic of intense discussion over recent years, many businesses have now been thrust into new ways of working in order to maintain business continuity. Employees are increasingly recognising the importance of a work-life balance and are prioritising the health and wellbeing of their loved ones.

The future workplace will be more results-based instead of focusing on presenteeism. At MSD, our goal has been to provide flexible working options for our employees. For some time now, we have been working to identify creative opportunities to harness talent outside of the confines of the traditional office setting and support employees with the possibilities to work with a schedule that best fits their needs.

A holistic approach to wellbeing

It’s important to focus on wellbeing initiatives and the health of talent and these support mechanisms have come into sharp focus as a result of the pandemic. For example, MSD programmes strive to ensure employees and their family members have access to tools and resources to support them at all stages of their career.

Good health goes beyond physical wellbeing to include emotional, social and financial wellbeing, and the future of a thriving workplace culture will be about ensuring employees feel supported in all aspects of their lives, allowing them to perform at their best.

As we navigate the pandemic in the short term, organisations will need to prioritise helping employees mitigate the effects of stress and worry that are impacting us all as the crisis continues. Moving forward, we recognise that, to maintain our competitive position in the market, it is vital that we continue to provide a comprehensive offering that includes such physical and mental wellbeing supports in order to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce.

Talent development

Building and maintaining effective teams, particularly in the Covid-19 ‘new normal’, is essential. Identifying ways to support employees that allow them to continue gaining skills and knowledge to grow and improve leadership capacity, while working remotely, is essential.

The future of work will continue to be about building workforce capability to accelerate talent, improve performance and mitigate risk through relevant continuous learning experiences. For example, we focus our programmes on providing skills and tools for team leaders and team members, including supporting the learning and development of our future key talent, women in leadership, diverse talent and those who are at the executive level.

MSD employees working with equipment in a lab.

MSD has approximately 2,500 employees across five sites in Ireland. Image: MSD

Innovation to drive efficiencies

The future workplace will be focused on the results you achieve rather than how long you’re at your desk. At MSD, AI, smart technology and big data are all playing a significant role in our business.

Not only is digital transformation improving logistical processes, it also allows greater flexibility and insights that drive greater efficiencies. New innovative approaches enable knowledge sharing and build cross-functional networks, supporting all employees in their roles and fostering a positive, inclusive culture for all.

Careers with purpose, not presenteeism

Looking to the future of work, I believe employees will want a rewarding, fulfilling career where they can make a difference.

We’re in a competitive market; pharma in particular is expanding and employers are competing for the best talent and skills. But offering a career that has purpose will be even more important for talent of the future.

By Lorraine Kenny

Lorraine Kenny is an executive director and HR lead at MSD Ireland.

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