Brilliant ideas are rarely the result of more meetings or more time spent at a desk. They emerge in the alchemy of human collaboration fuelled by diverse perspectives – and, today, augmented by technology. And, each time, the inputs to the "light bulb" moment will be as different as the humans involved.
Employees intuitively understand this. The biggest misalignment between HR and employees when it comes to employee experience is the importance of creating and sustaining a positive culture which allows their views to be heard.
Stop temporary fixes – start thinking "future back"
In a year likely to be filled with rolling lockdowns and dramatic changes in consumer behavior, businesses need to fundamentally change their workforce capabilities in two critical and complementary ways:
- Automate to respond to dynamic demand.
- Change how we measure, reward and drive performance in our human resources.
If productivity as it relates to humans is no longer a helpful measure, what is? Traditional metrics – more customer calls, more meetings, more client files processed – often give us the wrong answers about what value creation looks like. Because these measures miss the quality of those interactions. Was the customer happy with the call? Was the meeting useful? Were insights gained and shared across the enterprise for the benefit of others?
Measuring such outcomes will require us to drop outdated notions of human productivity.
The pandemic has propelled us into a future that would otherwise have taken two or three years of transformation. Those grappling with temporary fixes with a view to returning to "normal" work will find themselves going backwards.
Leaders will abandon old notions of work and leapfrog to a future with a hybrid workforce that combines machine productivity with human value creation.
Planning for a hybrid workforce requires a new approach
Executives who want to empower human value creation should consider:
- What uniquely human contribution will improve our product, service or customer experience?
- How do we redesign the work to make it more productive? This is we look at both where and how work should be done and how technology can improve productivity.
- What do our people need to help them operate at their potential and continue to grow. For some, this is skills development. For others, it will be an individual preference around how and where they prefer to work – balanced against the requirements of the work itself.
- How can we maintain equal levels of employee engagement in a hybrid environment?
- How do we maintain a culture that will be attractive regardless of which "mode" our employees work – that will help us to attract and retain talent well beyond the current crisis?
- How can we recognise and reward the unique human value being created?
- How can we encourage our leaders to have a growth mindset, be curious, listen and ask better questions? One of the most frequent executive comments on some people’s preference for remote work is: Why didn’t we know this before? The answer is simple: because we never asked people the question. What else aren’t we asking about now?
In this context, the organizational enablers of high-performance human work will be meaningful work, wellbeing, autonomy, collaboration and inclusion. Productivity needs to be linked to purpose and employee experience to drive long term value. To empower human value creation, we need to give individuals choice over where, when and how work is done.