Changing Talent: How to Equip your Organisation for the Future of Work - Part 2

Recap: Recently, FlexiBees partnered with Transformance Forums to organise a summit discussing the Future of the Workplace. The people attending were leadership from Human Resources, Transformation and Digital Teams of top organisations - all with keen interest and stake in kitting their organisations with new ways of working. The whole day was packed with insights, and my one strong take-away was that leaders across organisations are thinking about how to prepare themselves for what is to come.  
Here below is the second of a three part series on the key insights from the event, which I reproduce here specifically with the intent to help readers think and evaluate future strategies for their own organisations. To read the first of these parts, please go here.
How Talent is changing
This is at the heart of everything - why gig working, why flexible working, why changing styles of leadership - a lot of it boils down to the fact that in their expectations from life and work, people today are different from what they were fifty years ago, and are further evolving.
To be honest, this is my favourite trend since it goes right to the core of how human society and culture is changing. So, it was heartening to see leaders from giants like Pidilite, Abbott, Reliance and the like acknowledging and accounting for this evolution in their future strategies.
We started the day with Rahul Sinha, HR President, Pidilite saying - the employee of the future would behave like an owner, leading and not following. A bold and powerful statement, made even starker if you consider that just about a 100 years ago, when the assembly line came into existence, how very different the relationship between the employee and the organisation was. This drastic change has happened upon the back of several factors some of which have changed societies and human existence forever -
Technology, together with Globalisation : over the last few decades has automated some of the jobs and made most others more complex and global in scope. Example: A brand manager today has multiple variables to consider before deciding on a communication plan, they have to contend with a variety of touch-points - online and offline, with niche and far-flung target audience groups, and the very real possibility of a one-off campaign missing the mark and inviting a deluge of criticism from one or the other of these variables. These changes have taken place and taken root incrementally and gradually over the course of the last few decades, changing the very nature of work and what people expect from it. To put it simplistically, the old command and control hierarchical structure with its dependence on rules, instructions and pre-defined tasks, doesn’t work today. As a result, the employee of today naturally seeks more empowerment in making decisions, more ownership in taking accountability, and more autonomy and control in their working environment.
Women in the workplace : There has been a global push towards women’s empowerment over the last 100 years with rising levels of literacy, the easing of gender roles, pushing out the average ages for getting married and having children, and most of all a mindset of agency and equality, all of which have led to women aspiring to careers and financial independence, among other things. More women are in the workforce today by choice than ever before. This is a great thing, but add to this - families becoming nuclear in recent times, rising and more expensive living standards and hence the need for dual-working households, lengthening life-spans necessitating the need for elder care, and we have a bit of a social problem on hand, namely, who will take on the role of care provider when both adults in the traditional family unit are pursuing careers? However, there are some solutions - better infrastructure in terms of daycares, a credible eco-system for nannies and other paid care providers and most important of all, flexibility in working. In fact, flexibility today is an entire spectrum of options, where at the one end you have disruptive models like part-time, remote-working, gig-work, job-share, sabbaticals, etc but at the other you have more integrated models like flexi-time, flexi-location that entails letting your people mould their work around their life priorities. This could mean something as simple as dropping your child off and then coming in to work, leaving early and logging in later from home, or working from home on days when the nanny fails to show up.
Changing role of work in people’s lives : Each generation grows up and comes of age against a backdrop of certain events that are era-defining for them and have deep impact on how people think and societies behave. Nirav Jagad, Chief People Officer, Nykaa, brought home this realisation by mapping out the changing definitions of work for 6 generations of employees, right from the pre-1945 traditionalists to the post-2005 yet-to-be-named generation. The definition of work swung from ‘Work is an obligation’ for the first group to ‘Work is something I need to believe in’ for the last. Captain Raghu Raman, President Risk, Security & New Ventures, Reliance Industries, further illustrated this point by speaking about the future employee as being purposeful and on the use of ‘purpose’ as a motivational tool in organisations, and indeed in societies of the future, as being a far more effective one than ‘fear’. Apart from this urge to create social impact through work, various speakers through the day painted a vibrant picture of the dynamic young worker of the future, as one who having grown up in a period of plenty, with choice, awareness and exposure, tended to prefer flatter structures instead of traditional hierarchies, was impatient with bureaucracy and quick to move to greener pastures at little provocation. It was probably for these reasons that Dinesh Mishra, Director HR, Abbott, said that employees in the future would evaluate organisations as much as organisations would evaluate employees. He also said that a critical deliverable for a business in the future would be to provide an experience to its employees such that they would want to come back to work every day.
These factors above have combined, and interwoven to bring to us several changes in work and the ways of working, that are starting to take shape today and are only going to become bigger tomorrow  - the advent of the autonomous employee, the rise of gig-work, the need for flexibility as table stakes, the challenge that is going to be retaining top talent - being just some of them.
It’s not going to be an easy time to be in business, but from personal experience I can say that it will be an exciting time to be so. It will take strong differentiators along with creative leadership to attract and retain good talent - to basically make it. More on this leadership challenge next time in the third and final part of this series.
Hope you enjoyed this one. Goodbye!
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