Agnes Uhereczky is a consultant, podcaster and workplace transformer. She is the co-founder of the WorkLife HUB.
This is great news, as most repetitive, tedious parts of any job can be done by AI, smart machines or robots. So instead of disappearing, as fear-mongers suggest, most of the jobs will transform or change in the very near future. For the humans working alongside robots this however means that most of our daily work will be knowledge work. Anything we do will be quite new, difficult, require our capacity to sift and sort through overwhelming amounts of information and input; organise and prioritise; empathize and negotiate with colleagues, customers, managers,... the other humans. This will affect CEOs just as much as sales people, lawyers, civil servants, police and factory workers too.
Have your workforce on top form
In order to sail smoothly into this new world of work and to do this effectively, organisations will need to have their workforce on top form. They need to be happy, healthy and productive to give their best performance, which collectively will contribute to an innovative and productive organisation. Companies will need to hire diverse and resourceful talent, who will be able to continuously adapt to a changing environment and a perpetually changing job. Long gone are the days of job-descriptions.
Managers will have to continuously re-evaluate, what needs to get done, and who, where and how shall do it. Tasks and projects will be different each time, with the participation of both employees and freelancers pooling together to solve problems, develop new solutions, explore new ways of solving customer problems and improving the products and services. The more diverse the team, the stronger the culture: the better. Diversity will ensure the innovation, the chemistry, the empathy… and the strong culture will bind the diverse team together aligned to the common purpose, empowering them to take the right decisions. What does this new breed of organisation look like?
Companies, even in the most traditional sectors will have to become agile. Agility means closer-knit teams, more autonomy, quicker iteration and the permission to make mistakes, with the caveat that mistakes are made to learn from them. In terms of human capital management this goes beyond work-flexibility, or opening up options as to where and when work is performed (at home, in a co-working space, on weekends…), and heads towards work-life integration, which is more about culture than policies and rules and includes HR, CSR and OHS elements for a well-rounded employee empowerment system to match the challenges of the organisation.
The world could be our oyster ...
As much as our work-demands are increasing aided by the speed of technological advances, we also juggle increasing demands in our non-work lives, with more and more people having to balance caring roles with paid work, travel and increasing leisure activities due to the ever decreasing price of consumer goods and services, learning and development opportunities and an increasingly accessible amount of experiences we crave. The world could be our oyster… if there wasn’t burnout, stress and our lack of skills and knowledge to navigate life in the 21st century.
Some really forward thinking organisations however are getting it! They understand that the future of their brand and success lies increasingly on how well they treat their employees. They know, that unless they find the sweet spot on the intersection between business objectives and fundamental human needs, they won’t deliver on their desired outcomes. Who are some of these organisations?
Adidas, Harvard, the Marriott group are among the select few, who have embraced the disruption of HR and pooled together aspects of HR, CSR and Health and Safety to form a work-life department and designate a work-life integration manager. Having interviewed a number of work-life professionals, we found that they always embraced these new roles with great passion and enthusiasm, as they felt they were actively contributing to building a great and supportive culture at their organisations and having a real impact on the lives of their colleagues.
Many organisations are now re-inventing their HR with work-life initiatives to attract and retain a diverse group of talent, increase employee engagement and improve employee experience, build a great culture where everyone is welcome and included and allow people to manage their work and nonwork lives effectively and more easily. Integration of work and nonwork demands is one of the most critical challenges organizations, families, and individuals face today.
The days of the Ideal worker are well and truly behind us. We therefore need to break the mould in the workplace that would fit only them. When employees feel they are treated like adults, allowed to take care of their families, education, interests and communities, their mind will be free of worry and ready to engage in work in a way that is of value to the organisation. Employees that are rested and balanced will take much better decisions, their judgement will be more attuned to the task, errors and risks will be reduced. They will be more innovative, more empowered and move mountains.