While the pace of business continues to accelerate, the candidate pool continues to shrink.
In April, the Jobs Opening and Labor Turnover Survey showed a larger number of open jobs (6.7 million) than people out of work and looking for a position (6.3 million). And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs nearly doubled the amount fired. For the first time in U.S. history, there are more available jobs than people to fill them.
What does this mean for U.S. employers? Creating and sustaining a healthy work culture – where people look forward to coming to work – should be a top priority. That said, here are five trends modern people leaders should keep in mind:
1. Establish and evangelize a higher purpose
Purpose is about working for something bigger than the job itself. It is about wanting to make a difference – to help, to give, to serve – to contribute to a legacy. Harvard Business Review reports that a higher purpose is not about economic exchanges. It reflects something more aspirational. It explains how the people involved with an organization are making a difference, giving them a sense of meaning.
Although a higher purpose does not guarantee economic benefits, the HBR article suggests a positive impact on both operating financial performance and forward-looking measures of performance when purpose is communicated with clarity. Simply put, it’s about people finding meaning in their work.
Indeed, best-selling author Simon Sinek summed up his session at WorkHuman by articulating the three things leaders want: the dignity of work, safety for our children and ourselves, and feeling like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
“We will produce a new definition of business for America and the world that will improve the quality of life, make us feel better about ourselves, improve the way we treat our children,” said Simon.
2. Leverage the wisdom of the crowd
People don’t leave companies – they leave managers. So why risk the livelihood of a productive employee with one person, one opinion, one assessment?
If a company empowers its entire workforce to provide feedback, it reduces the risk of an employee feeling like their self-worth is determined by one person. When there’s a feeling of their peers “having their back,” there’s a sense of deeper connectedness.
When a candidate applies for a job, companies have multiple people as part of the interview process. This is to reduce bias during the hiring process. Once a person is hired, why wouldn’t a company continue to crowdsource the employee’s development? Why would a company dedicate multiple people to determine if someone should work for their company, but then leave the success of the new hire to one person – the manager?
Crowdsourced peer reviews provide a richer, deeper portrait of performance and opportunity for growth. Companies that understand this will investigate systems to provide this richer form of feedback.
3. Modernize variable pay strategy
Empowering all employees to provide social recognition – through positive feedback and monetary awards – when they see good work aligned to core values is the foundation for companies to modernize their total rewards strategy and investment.
Companies can do this without increasing budget – they do so by finding “hidden dollars” in ad hoc, disparate programs (e.g., dinners, sporting events, gift cards) and centralize them from a source of truth.
By rearchitecting variable pay, rewards are more tightly aligned to how, when, and where the work happens. There’s a sense of urgency for HR to start paying attention to modernizing performance development.
“In HR and business, we are rethinking the way we do things and rewiring our business,” said Josh Bersin, principal and founder at Bersin/Deloitte Consulting, at Total Rewards. “We don’t have the old vertical career model we used to have – we have careers with people moving from role to role. As individuals move from role to role or job to job, we need to find a way to continue to engage them.”
4. Embrace the baby boomers
With the overall talent pool shrinking, there is a segment that is growing – older workers. As of May, 19.8 percent of Americans age 65 are still working, according to the Labor Force Participation Rate, up from 10.8 percent in the summer of 1986.
“People in their 60s are going to work longer,” said Josh. “The need to engage people and create an individualized work experience is higher. How do we reward people who probably aren’t going to become the CEO, probably not going to get promoted, but want to stay in the workforce? They want to add value, they want to share everything they learned, they want to have the psychic benefits of work.”
Baby boomers sticking around present both challenge and opportunity for companies. By modernizing their variable pay strategy, individuals’ specific needs can be accommodated through configurable plan design.
5. Create and sustain ‘white space’
Today’s workplace is fast-paced, with leaders accountable for developing and implementing strategy while running from meeting to meeting. Many leaders find themselves so focused on what’s next that they gloss over the simple pleasure of seeing work get done in the present.
“The only thing we have is right now and we’re not present right now,” said Rasmus Hougaard, founder and managing director, Potential Project, at WorkHuman. “We’re completely missing out on great work, on great relationships, so mindfulness is becoming increasingly important. … Stop multitasking – it is the mother of all evil that impedes performance and well-being.”
Rasmus said companies need to develop executives and managers who lead with three core mental qualities: mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion.
Backing his messaging with data (77 percent of leaders think they do a good job of engaging their people, yet 88 percent of employees say their leaders don’t engage enough), Rasmus stressed the importance of incorporating mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion into a daily routine. It’s important, he noted, because his research shows that 47 percent of people’s waking hours are involuntarily wandering from the task at hand. Focus, indeed, is challenging to maintain.
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