Attitudes to work, jobs and employment have changed post pandemic.
There were predictions of how the world and economy would look once we tried to return to our former lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has made a seismic shift in how people view working, so in order to attract and retain talent employers will need to adjust.
Workers are no longer content with their dream job, they want dream lives. Armed with an internet connection and a laptop, you can run a company, build a website, host a conference, watch production, and the list goes on. You can do this from any location anywhere in the world with wifi, which incidentally was developed by researchers at the CSIRO in Australia - you're very welcome world! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi#cite_note-19)
Side hustle & tree change
All that downtime, lockdowns and extra time has given people food for thought. In that time many have developed side businesses in trading, selling, teaching and coaching which provides a new element to their lives. Most have asked themselves hard questions during this time, considering how happy they are in their work and daily lives. With the constant changes forced upon them, suddenly improving lifestyle became the focus.
Many people are taking those few hours a day of commuting and putting it to good use, spending time with family, exercising, and learning. Without being tied to a location, city or office the freedom to work from anywhere was realised. Some moved to regional or coastal areas, being able to do the odd trip to the city/suburbs for a work meeting. Being at home meant more comfort, not having to plan lunch ahead of time and being able to wear what we want most of the time. It meant sitting in the sun having a coffee and minutes later being in a meeting. So what happened? An appreciation and attitude shift is what happened.
The time to stop and reflect has become the catalyst for change. The industrialisation and rigidity of jobs and work is changing.
“But jobs as we know them are a product of their time, a rigid solution that no longer serves today’s dynamic, more complex problems. We need entirely new approaches to mobilising and coordinating human effort—moving from people boxed into jobs to roles built around the individual; from mechanistic to organic structures; and from workers viewed as “resources” or “capital” to workers as whole, complex contributors filled with potential”
Beyond the job, Susan Cantrell
Where to from here?
To succeed and outlast your competition, acknowledging this shift in focus and taking action is needed.
Those looking for work, or considering a change in employment are not satisfied with decent remuneration and a sexy job title. It’s not enough, it’s not the priority. If you want to ensure that you are a company that attracts the best talent, can develop high functioning teams and win lucrative work and projects you can not afford to ignore this. People expect more meaning, autonomy, choice and growth in the workplace now. Often the focus for organisations is on reducing costs, cutting staff and chasing efficiency instead of looking for ways to add value, unlock growth and seek new opportunities.
According to Deloitte talent report 2022 “organisations are now rethinking their talent strategies at all stages of the employee lifecycle, vying for top talent in a highly transparent job market, and becoming laser-focused on their external employment brand.”
Here is a table from Deloitte's report which shows the traditional job in the middle and a fractionalised vs broader adjustment to the job and the benefits it brings. These are two ends of a fluid spectrum of options when it comes to redefining jobs/roles.
Many companies such as ING Netherlands are broadening their workforce, and have reduced 85 job titles down to 15. As a group they focus on outcomes - everyone is assigned to a squad and within the squad there are tribes. Collectively employees are accountable to each other, not a manager. The goals are set together, the measurements are in place and how it gets achieved is decided communally. This has led to growth, efficiency and the ability for the bank to attract talent easily due to this innovative approach, especially in the financial sector.
The need to abandon ‘the best and only way to do things’ approach is then replaced with the clear articulation of broad outcomes and goals, mutual accountability, transparent information-sharing, and strong cultural principles, values, and norms fostered through longer employee tenures and a positive work environment.
This data insight is very useful for employers, managers and those looking to adapt to this change.
Moving with the times
So how can you start implementing some of these strategies in response to a shift in attitude towards jobs and work? Experiment with some of our suggestions below, think about the real pain points for the company, where you can automate and free up extra capacity. Over time seek to further broaden or fractionalise the work and try different approaches. Understand that you can use a variety of different approaches to organising work, which in turn will provide value and agility to your organisation.
Collaboration culture - Move away from one person doing a set of tasks to a group dynamic. Allow people to work together, give them space and opportunity to think and develop ideas, and allow them to see the company as if they owned it. Make it comfortable to voice an opinion and act on suggestions and improvements from the group. Match long-term employees with newer team members to share experience and inject new ideas.
Casual & cool - It’s essential to look at your space and surroundings. If you have an office space does it need to be redesigned? Do departments need to be joined or moved? Provide better staff amenities eg: great coffee, free snacks or drinks, table tennis tables, lounge areas. If you're not sure, hire a consultant to come in and redesign your space, they are equipped with current trends and ideas. Quite simply, make your environment comfortable.
Autonomy & flexibility - Adopt a casual approach to where and how people wish to work. Abandon those old notions of clocking a card (if the functionality of your business allows it). This is a minimum expectation for candidates and workers now. A hybrid arrangement is the best option for most. Each employee has different needs and commitments from time to time, so be open, trust your staff and give them the autonomy to get the job done. Put guardrails in place for control and accountability, but know that gone are the days of micro management.
Offer opportunities - Upskilling, training and learning opportunities need to be considered. As remuneration is no longer the focus, developing and growing has become more important. With new technology many tasks can be managed, so up-skill your workers in other areas which will lead to higher productivity and job satisfaction.
Agile & accommodating - For organisations of all sizes, working in an agile environment can increase efficiency, so if you are a smaller or medium sized business don’t be afraid to adopt this approach. People are different, it’s part of what makes work enjoyable, so to get the best results the ‘way of working’ should be aligned to the person and their style. Being accommodating will benefit the organisation in the long run.
Widen horizons - Require employees to work with other departments, teams, managers alongside their own role. This helps share the intelligence across the workforce and also allows the opportunity for growth, collaboration and divergent thinking.
Transparency - If you want employees to treat the organisation as if it was their own, then transparency is required. Be open about financials, profits, and expenditure, including management decisions and reasoning. This leads to an improvement in culture and attitude towards the organisation long term.
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