Writing the biggest check is not enough anymore to engage and retain people in companies. And it makes us better humans.
Just a mere fifteen decades ago lots of people were still considered to be tools to get work done. Literally, by being slaves.
Fifty years ago the majority of the population continued to work their asses off and still were considered nothing but cogs in big mechanisms. Hopefully, just metaphysically now.
Twenty-five years ago most people were working in office cubicles, doing classic 9 to 5, making sure they looked busy the whole day and then leaving home.
People didn’t feel like having a real alternative. Some, because of the tradition and the lack of knowledge, others, because of physical constraints and personal reasons.
Technology changed everything. People got access to knowledge of how other companies operate, they understood the easiness of acquiring new skills, they found out that the physical office is not required as well as showing up at 9am.
This is a fundamental shift, that requires us to completely rethink the way companies operate. People look for a meaning in their worklife, for cultural fit, for a mission to drive them. It’s not enough to pay the biggest check anymore. Considering this, what will the future of work look like?
The main assets of the Industrial Age were machines, rather than people. Certainly, people were crucial but replaceable. It didn’t matter how they were treated since the supply was greater than demand.
The majority of management practices popular up until today were created back in that time and thus now, with technology-fueled changes, are inapplicable. For example, in accounting, there still is an outdated concept of treating people as losses and things as assets.
With the rise of intelligent machines, the work actual people will be doing, would be highly creative and competent, thus making the value of actual human more crucial.
People matter and the best companies tend to consist of A players. Thus, finding those people, keeping them engaged in the company and understanding how to encourage them to perform at the top of their game, is extremely important.
Human-centered worklife, set by many tech companies will inevitably spread to other industries. Who people are, what they feel, how to keep them engaged and retain at the company will be the questions on the top of every leader’s mind.
Companies are monitoring hundreds of metrics every day. But none of the metrics impacts all other metrics as much as people on the team. And still, it’s the only one metric that is not properly tracked yet.
Obviously, in order to understand and improve something, first, it needs to be tracked. The data-driven mindset will become an integral part of a day to day human relations in the companies.
In the past, companies needed their employees to be in the same place to enable industrial production at scale. In order to do any work people needed to visit their offices where all the important files, powerful computers or business phones were.
With the shift to the cloud and technological advancement, it became evident that as long as people deliver results, their location or how much they work don’t actually matter.
People can choose the place to live and work even if it’s in thousands of miles from the places their teammates are. Due to internet access from pretty much any place on Earth and creation of tools for actually getting things done together, virtual collaboration will become the primary way of working. Moreover, it’s not just tied to remote work. Every day we are already talking to each other via Slack even when we are in the same office. Think of the same trend but expanded to any industry.
People seek the meaning. They want to understand their work is important, that it leaves a dent. Basically moving up on a Maslow pyramid of needs, with more and more basic human demands being provided by default, more and more people are looking for a mission in their worklifes. There are three main areas of worklife where the purpose can be found.
First, in making a positive short and long-term impact on the world. Second, in building meaningful relationships with co-workers. Third, in growing as a person.
Each of them is up to the companies to nurture and design in a way that would help people feel happy.
The nature of any predictions is the complete ambiguity. No matter how thoroughly you have thought it all through, there is no certainty if they will pan out.
But considering that work is the third part of almost anyone’s life and the fact that a shocking 70% of employees are disengaged, the way organizations operate today requires a drastic change. Regardless of whether it will look like that or we’ll come up with a different solution, future changes will certainly make us better humans.