Wed, 18 January 2017
In this podcast we take a look back on some of the interviews I did in 2016 and listen to some of the past guests talk about key issues they feel are shaping the workplace of the future.
In 2016 I had a lot of great conversations with a wide variety of senior leaders. Last week I took a look back on the 2016 podcast interviews and discussed six lessons I learned from my guests last year. This week I wanted to let the guests speak for themselves, so I gathered up some highlight clips from last year’s podcast interviews and put them into one podcast mashup.The subjects range from how innovation is changing to automation and AI to the six reasons why we work.
The first interview I looked back on was the one with Jeff Wong, the Global Chief Innovation Officer at EY. In our discussion we talked about innovation during a disruptive era and one of the main points was about how innovation is changing. Wong said he believes that innovation is changing a lot and it is really driving companies to think about themselves differently. Companies are now forced to pay attention to things like training, environmental and community impact and inclusive capitalism in order to be successful. Wong says companies need to think about whether they are “training a workforce for the future, or are you training a workforce to do the function of today”. He believes that his job as a Chief Innovation Officer requires him to “do old things in new ways”.
One of the fascinating topics I touched on with a few guests last year, was the subject of People Analytics and how it is revolutionizing the way we think about employee experience. Ben Waber, the President and CEO of Humanyze, talked to me about what makes up people analytics. He said that while survey data is useful, “it is not data about behavior, it is data about perception”. Because you cannot survey people every single day, you lose the ability to accurately get a picture of the day to day workings of your office. With People Analytics you are able to get real world data in real time which allows you to fix issues as you go instead of waiting for the end of the year.
Ellyn Shook, the Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer at Accenture, talked about the problem with annual employee reviews which points to why the topic of people analytics is so important for the success of a company. She says the problem with annual reviews is just that; they are only done once a year. She says “very little works in annual cycles anymore”. We are a society that is used to immediate feedback, so telling employees to wait a year to see how they are doing at work is not realistic. Shook says that her company realized that they were putting a lot of time and effort into their annual reviews, but they were receiving very little value from them because they “spent too much time talking about their people, instead of talking to the people”. In order to get the best results you need “forward looking, real time and on demand” data and feedback for your employees.
Employee experience was another hot topic I discussed with several guests last year. Some of the guests who touched on the subject were Monika Fahlbusch, the Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, Francine Katsoudas, the Senior Vice President and Chief People
Officer at Cisco and Karyn Twaronite, the Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer at EY. In our discussions we defined what employee experience is, how large companies are able to scale employee experience across a wide range of languages, locations and cultures, and the importance of focusing on diversity and inclusiveness. Fahlbusch says that to create employee experience you first must listen to your employees. Your employees will help you find the overarching problems, or “pain points” if you learn how to listen to them. You also need to look at your individual company and figure out what experiences you should be focusing on. To do that you need to understand things about your company such as what are your values, what are you trying to celebrate, where are you trying to go in the future?
Katsoudas talked about scaling employee experience across hundreds of countries and thousands of employees. She says Cisco’s belief is “one size fits one”, meaning they understand that the ideal employee experience in India will not be the same as that in England or the US and that’s okay.
Twaronite gave an example of why it is so important for senior leaders of companies to not just list out the available benefits for employees, but they should also be role models who walk the walk. She shared a story about the EY Chairman and CEO, who was giving the keynote for a company wide event, and during his speech he apologized to everyone and explained that he would be leaving the event early in order to honor a commitment he made to his daughter. In doing this he was transparent, authentic and helped employees feel that the work flexibility benefit was not just a bunch of empty words.
One subject that I am always fascinated with is technology dealing with robots, AI and automation. Three guests I spoke with who got into this topic of discussion were Robin Hanson, Thomas Davenport and Mihir Shukla.
Robin Hanson, who is the author of “The Age of Em”, the Associate professor of Economics at George Mason University and the Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, spoke about the extremely futuristic topic of what an Em is. Hanson discusses the fact that there are two different scenarios that could happen to get us to a point where we have robots that are as smart as humans. One way would be to “slowly write and accumulate better software on faster and cheaper machines”. This is what we are doing now and if we continued on this path it would take several centuries to reach this point. Another way would be to port the “software” from our brains into an Em. If we find a way to do this, the Em age could happen within one century.
Thomas Davenport talks about how there are two camps of people today, those who are opposed to the move towards automation and those who are embracing it. The people who are opposed are scared about the implications of automating jobs. They feel that this shift in our economy will create chaos and wipe out jobs for humans. The camp of people who are embracing it feel that automating certain jobs could be a good thing and that we will always find a way to create new jobs for humans. Davenport believes that reality is somewhere in between the two camps.
Mihir Shukla talks about how software bots can complete mundane tasks, and also tackle more complicated problems as well. Many employers want their workers to complete today’s problems while thinking about tomorrow’s challenges using yesterdays technologies and approaches. Processing invoices, verifying documents, generating reports, data entry, and other mundane tasks still need to be completed, but by humans or bots? Introducing mundane and complex tasks to the digital workforce allows the human employees to think, create, discover, and innovate; basically doing things that humans do best.
Other subjects that are touched on in this episode include recruiting millennials, whether or not open workspaces are the next best thing, how to identify a Superboss, the six reasons why we work, how to drive behavior change and entrepreneurs vs. freelancers.
Looking back at the guests from this last year it is easy to see that there are a lot of changes happening in the workplace and I am excited to see where we go from here. I am working on lining up a great list of podcast guests for this year, so be sure to stay tuned and keep listening to the weekly future of work podcast!
Tue, 10 January 2017
Join me as I take a look back on six lessons I’ve learned about the future of work from my podcast guests over the last year.
We are moving into a new year and I am excited to see what podcast guests we will have and the things we will learn about the future of work. I wanted to take a moment to look back over the 53 published podcasts of 2016 to discuss six lessons I learned from my guests this past year.
The first lesson I learned in 2016 is that we should be thinking of our organizations more like a laboratory and less like a factory. Over the past year I have had some great guests including the Chief HR Officer of Accenture, the Chief Innovation Officer at EY, and the President and CEO of Humanyze and all of my guests have been very honest in saying they don’t know everything. They understand that in order to be successful they have to treat their organizations like laboratories where they allow for testing, exploring, adaptation and innovation. They also embrace failure in order to learn from their mistakes.
The second lesson I learned from my guests is that the future of work doesn’t happen to you or to your organization, it happens because of you or because of your organization. We need to understand that the future of work is not its own entity that we cannot control, it is something that we collectively create. We design it, build it, manifest it and implement it. Our organizations need to play a more active role in the future of work.
The third lesson learned this year is that there are big changes happening to the employee/employer relationship. The relationship has to evolve with the growth of the gig economy, more flexible work arrangements and the changing demographics in the workplace. Employers have to be aware of the changes in the workforce and they must adapt accordingly. It is also vital for employers to understand their organization and their people when making changes instead of blindly copying what other organizations are doing.
Lesson number four is that technology seems to be taking centerstage. Technology is affecting everyone across the board--human resources, management, sales, IT, etc… We are seeing things like virtual reality, people analytics, AI and automation, collaboration tools and wearable devices. It is important to mention, though, that technology is just a vehicle. Just because you have technology does not mean you will necessarily achieve anything. You have to know what technology will work for your company and how to best implement it. This also ties into lesson number one, treating your organization like a laboratory and allowing things to be tested.
The fifth lesson deals with employee experience vs. employee engagement. We have seen a huge growth in companies paying attention to employee engagement. Never before have we seen such an investment into employee engagement. The problem is, never before have we seen employee engagement levels so low. This stems from the fact that people do not realize that employee engagement is the effect, but we are not paying enough attention to the cause. The cause of employee engagement is employee experience. Employee experience has three basic elements that go into it; cultural environment, technological environment and physical environment. By investing in these three environments companies can create a better employee experience, which will in turn, create better employee engagement. And the foundation of employee experience is people analytics.
The final lesson I am going to touch on is that organizations seem to have a cautious optimism about the future of work. There has been a lot of talk about AI replacing jobs, political challenges, issues with globalization, etc…Basically, there is a lot of doom and gloom out there when talking about the future. But there is hope in the cautious optimism that I have seen among my 2016 guests. Most of them have expressed a desire to proceed into the future believing in positive outcomes while still preparing for challenges. Taking AI and automation for example, a lot of my guests believe that more jobs will be created than destroyed. They are, however, taking precautions such as retraining and educating their workforce in order to equip them with new skills that will help them stay relevant in this changing world.
Overall this has been a very insightful year for the future of work podcast. I had so many great guests and we touched on a lot of vitally important topics. I truly hope that you all learned a lot along the way as well. I look forward to sharing more of my conversations with senior level leaders as we discuss the future of work.
Tue, 3 January 2017
I am a big fan of stories, so this week I am trying something new for the podcast. The following story is about a well known business leader. Try to figure out who it is before the end of the story where I reveal who it is.
This young boy was born in 1971 in South Africa. All through school he was bullied and picked on for various reasons. At one point the bullying became so bad that he was thrown down a flight of stairs and he had to be hospitalized.
In order to escape his harsh reality, this young boy turned his attention to space and computers and he combined the two to create a unique space themed computer game. In order to create the game he taught himself how to code at the age of 10. He finished creating his first PC game at the age of 12 and he sold this game for $500 to PC and Office Technology Magazine.
At the age of 19 he began college where he studied dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Business and Physics. While in college he ran into money problems and had to get creative in order to make ends meet. At one point in time he turned his house into a weekend night club in order to make some money. While his fellow students partied downstairs, this young man was upstairs playing video games. He graduated with his dual Bachelor’s Degrees and then attempted to get his PhD from Stanford, but he dropped out after only 2 days in the program.
From there he went on to start a company with his brother, Kimbal, which they ended up selling for millions of dollars four years later. He was also able to create and sell a money transfer service to Ebay for 1.5 million. After all of this time this man found that he was still extremely interested in space. He traveled the world looking for a way to get involved in a space program, however he ended up coming to the conclusion that it would be easier if he started his own space company. Therefore SpaceX was created.
Of course, you may know by now that this story is about none other than Elon Musk, the founder, current CEO and CTO of SpaceX and the co-founder, current CEO and architect of Tesla Motors.
Mon, 26 December 2016
Dee Ann Turner is the Vice President of Enterprise Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A. She was previously the Vice President of Corporate Talent at Chick-fil-A for 16 years. She is the author of a book called, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture. Chick-fil-A is a fast-food restaurant based out of Atlanta with over 2,000 locations all over the U.S. They have 100,000 team members including 1,600 in their corporate offices.
Corporate culture is one of the most important aspects of an organization and it is a major topic of discussion nowadays. One company that is getting corporate culture right is Chick-fil-A. The original founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, believed that Chick-fil-A was “not in the chicken business, but in the people business” and the way he developed and lead the company was a true testament to that belief. Cathey advised Turner to remember that, “people decisions are the most important decisions we can make”.
Chick-fil-A has steadily increased in sales every year and their retention rates are phenomenal, which is rare for the fast food industry. They have franchisees from ages 19 to 80 with very diverse backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. They state that their purpose is, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Chick-fil-A has a very unique corporate culture and it really focuses on building up and investing in their employees. They truly are a company whose focus is on people, both the employees and the customers.
Turner explains that Chick-fil-A incorporates one thing as an umbrella over everything that they do and that is the idea that they care about people personally. “Employees and guests are not just a name, they are a story and people know their story”. She says that Chick-fil-A employees celebrate milestones in each other’s lives. They throw baby showers and wedding showers, they attend their kids’ sporting events, they listen to each other and give advice. They understand that “to be innovative, you have to be diverse” and one of their core beliefs is that you should treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect.
Leaders in the company are trained in and encouraged to use the Serve Model. Each letter in the word serve stands for a value. S is for see and shape the future because leaders should have vision and they should be able to articulate that vision to others. E is for engage and develop others. R is for reinvent continuously and the ability to be willing to change things up. V stands for valuing results as well as relationships and the last E is to embody the values of the company which include generosity, loyalty and excellence. Chick-fil-A believes that the higher up you are in the company, the more responsibility you have to embody the serve model. The focus is putting others before yourself.
Chick-fil-A also has some very unique perks for their employees. Their headquarters have outdoor workspaces with full wifi, they have a cafe with free lunches, the company offers great health care and they allow employees to use condos owned by management for vacations. They also have an annual conference and one year they rented out the largest cruise ship in the world for it.
Corporate culture is vitally important for successful organizations. It shapes who you are as a company, it helps you attract and retain great talent and it helps you focus on where you need to go in the future. Chick-fil-A is a great example of how putting people first can go a long way in creating an amazing corporate culture.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 19 December 2016
Jeff Wong is the Global Chief Innovation Officer at EY, a global organization that has over 200,000 employees worldwide. Before he was at EY he spent 10 years in innovation at Ebay. He has an AB in Economics, a Master in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management and a MBA from Stanford University.
The world is changing faster than it ever has before. We have seen the evolution of AI, self driving cars, drones and robots in the workplace and who knows where technology will go in the future. In this ever changing world it is imperative for companies to adapt and keep up with the times. The question is how can companies keep up when things are changing daily.
Wong says innovation is “doing old things in new ways”. He says one of the most important things to do to stay ahead of the game is to pay attention to what is going on around the world. He says he is constantly reading up on world events and always listening to clients and employees around the world. Companies should be aware of what is going on around the world. EY has employees around the world which allows them to reach out to a whole host of regions in order to learn what different areas are doing and how it is working for them. Four main technologies that Wong and EY are paying attention to at this time are data analytics, blockchain, AI and robotic process automation.
Innovation is no longer just about plugging technology in, technology is much more involved now. Companies and employees have to be willing to “get their hands dirty”. Wong says in order for companies to keep up with innovation they cannot just sit and talk about new technology. Companies need to play with new technology, they have to implement it and they have to actually use the technology to address real problems. Doing this allows companies to “see where that technology is today and how fast it is evolving”.
There are three types of innovation; Disruptive innovation, which is looking far into the future to figure out what could be, adjacent innovation which is doing things one step ahead of today’s technology and sustaining innovation which should be done everyday to make sure you are staying on top of what you already have in place. Wong says it is so important for companies to implement all three types of innovation.
When companies strive for innovation more likely than not, there will be failure. Wong says, “failure is a big part of innovation” and that the important thing is “what you learn from that failure and how to change the pathway around it”. Both Wong and EY embrace failure and understand that it will happen when companies try new things. There have even been times when a project or an idea has had to be scrapped completely. This is just something you have to be okay with if you want to be an innovative company.
Wong says in order to be a leading innovator in a disruptive world “you have to be willing and eager to learn. You can’t get stuck on any framework or model”. He says you can’t just be focused on the technology of today and you have to have the “willingness to be wrong, and admit it”.
When it comes to advice for organizations trying to keep up with innovation, Wong says it is important to “read a lot, know what is going on in the world, get your hands dirty….know where things are today and where they are going in the future”.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode:
Mon, 5 December 2016
Ben Waber is the Founder and CEO of Humanyze, a people analytics company. He is also the author of a book titled, People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What it Tells Us About the Future of Work.
People analytics is a truly fascinating and exciting field that is changing the way companies test and analyze their employees, and ultimately how effectively the company is operating. Unlike the techniques that have been used in the past, such as annual surveys or polls, people analytics uses behavioral data that is collected directly from the employees in order to get a broader look at the day to day activities of a company. Ben Waber defines people analytics as “using data about what people do at work to change how a company is managed”.
Humanyze is a social sensing and analytics platform that uses sensors in employee ID badges to measure important behavioral data such as where people are in the office at any given time and the volume and speed of an employee’s voice when talking with a coworker. Gathering these types of behaviors allows companies to get a bigger picture of the ins and outs of their company and the performance and patterns of employees. It can help find issues such as causes of stress in the workplace or the mishandling of how people are rewarded. People analytics can help companies answer basic questions such as, how much time should a salesperson talk with a customer or how much time does management spend with a certain department? These seem like basic questions, but they have not been answered up until now because we haven’t had a way to collect the data that is needed to provide answers.
With people analytics we can look at the percentage of time a manager spends with their team, the amount of time employees spend with their coworkers, how people talk to each other and motion patterns. It is important to note that the sensors don’t collect individual conversations or specific data about an individual, rather they collect the data to give analysts a broad look at the company. People analytics allows data to come in and be tested constantly, as opposed to once a year with a survey. This helps companies to analyze data on an ongoing basis to allow them to make decisions and continue to adapt in a way that keeps them at the top of their industry.
This doesn’t mean that companies should stop doing surveys and polls; those are good initial steps, but using surveys alone is not as effective as they measure employee perception versus reality.
One example of a company who implemented people analytics is a call center that hired Humanyze. This call center, as with most call centers, had a huge number of employees and the goal of management was to keep as many people on the phones at one time as possible as success is measured by completed calls. Because of this, all the employees were broken up into teams and each team member had a separate lunch break. In terms of the number of people on the phone at one time, this seemed to be the most effective way to operate for the management team. However, after starting people analytics and testing they found that the performance level was nowhere near where it needed to be and employees seemed to be stressed. In the end they found that it was due to the fact that the employees were not able to talk to their fellow team members during breaks and therefore they weren’t able to vent about problem calls or get support from each other. From that data the company changed their policy to allow lunch breaks to have 15 minute overlaps for team members. This resulted in calls being completed 23% faster, lower turnover rate, less employee stress, and more cohesive teams.
Without people analytics the call center may have never figured out what their performance issue was. As Waber states, “they didn’t have the data before, so they had no reason to change”.
At this point in time there are some challenges for people analytics. It is a new concept and a lot of people are skeptical or scared of it. There is also a cost, as it requires companies to create a new type of team with analysts and data scientists as well as HR professionals and it requires certain technical updates. But the cost of ignoring people analytics far outweighs the cost of implementing it. There are already several companies, large and small, who have started using people analytics and as we proceed into the future more and more companies will join in. Waber says on average people analytics increases top line performance by 10-15%.
Waber advises companies to “Take baby steps. You don’t need to jump out ahead, but do something that makes you uncomfortable and outside of your comfort zone”. Even if you haven’t started implementing people analytics yet, Waber says, “you are not that far behind, yet. But in the next couple of years it will be harder and harder to catch up”.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode:
Mon, 28 November 2016
Monika Fahlbusch is the Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, a company in the IT management space. BMC Software has over 6,000 employees around the world and the Experience Team has 450 people focused on employee experience. Fahlbusch has a background in both IT and HR in high tech companies for the last 30 years.
What is employee experience? According to Fahlbusch there isn’t a cut and dry answer for what it is; the answer will be different from company to company. This is because it is dependent on the employees in the company and the culture of the company. Fahlbusch says it is important for companies to listen to their employees to find out where the “pain points” are and to find out the breaking points that inhibit productivity and innovation. Listening to employees and asking for where they think the company could improve can seem daunting to executives because they may feel that they have to implement all the ideas or risk letting people down. Fahlbusch says “sometimes you listen and that’s enough, sometimes you listen and learn, and other times you listen and have to make changes immediately”. So listening to employees doesn’t mean you have to implement every single idea, employees like to feel that they have a say and that they are being heard.
There is no doubt the workplace is changing and that the future of work will look different than work today or in the past. Fahlbusch talks about four main areas in which the workplace is changing. One area is the physical workspace. Recently companies have started to move away from a physical space where employees have to report for work all day every weekday. Now companies are allowing employees to have more freedom to work remotely for a majority of time and then have a space where employees can come together once in awhile when they have to collaborate on projects in person.
Another area the workplace is changing is how employees connect to the values of their company. Values are extremely important to the incoming generations such as the Millennials and it is important to them that their company reflects its values in real ways daily in the workplace. Its no longer good enough to say a company value is to “do the right thing”, nowadays you have to be sure your company is showing how to do the right thing, maybe by getting involved in community outreach or by operating in an environmentally responsible way. Other areas where the workplace is changing include the blending of personal and work lives and thinking outside of the organization.
So what does the workplace of the future look like? Some things that Fahlbusch sees happening in the future is a move towards doing work while standing vs. sitting all of the time. She also thinks that physical work spaces will evolve from working in one big office building, to working remotely from any location. She believes companies will be more globally minded, closer to customers, and closer to communities. Fahlbusch hopes that the future of work will include a stronger collaboration between education and tech companies for mutual benefit and that there will be a real impact with information technology in the ways of AI and wellness/health.
When it comes to employee experience Fahlbusch says that while some companies will say they don’t have the budget to impact employee experience, it is a choice. There is a cost, but there is also an opportunity cost for not doing it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you want to be satisfied with the employees you have and the employees you are attracting to your company you can’t afford not to budget for employee experience.
What you will learn:
Links From The Episode:
Mon, 21 November 2016
Teresa Carroll is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Talent Solutions for Kelly Services. Kelly Services is a staffing agency that has been around for 70 years and now it is a $6 Billion company that has 10,000 employees operating in over 40 countries around the world. Carroll, who is actually an engineer in the automotive industry by trade, has worked with Kelly Services for 24 years in several different roles.
Gig/Freelance economy is a huge topic of discussion these days. It seems like the gig/freelance economy is growing daily. Why are we having such a shift away from traditional, full time work? Carroll believes it is due to three key factors. First of all, it is due to demographics. We currently have four generations out in the workforce and as Carroll points out, “2 out of the 4 have clearly stated they don’t want to work full time for the same company”. The two generations she is talking about are the Baby Boomers, who are at retirement age but who don’t want to fully commit to leaving the workforce yet and therefore are doing part-time work, and the Millennials who have grown up with technology since birth.
The second factor that plays into the move from traditional, full time work is technology. The advances in technology have allowed us to get work done in so many different ways using various platforms such as Upwork, Etsy, Uber, etc... It used to be that employees would have to go into the office where they were trained in one specific job, however now you can work from anywhere and jobs are more task driven. And finally, the third factor is psychographic, or how we think and make decisions. Today’s workforce realizes they have certain skills and they are in demand, and therefore they get to work how they want to work.
When looking to figure out the true size of the gig/freelance economy it is hard to pinpoint due to challenges, such as the fact that there are so many different terms for this type of work. People use terms such as Gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, entrepreneurs, etc... However, as Carroll points out, regardless of what name you use it is a fact that one third of today’s workforce does not work full time. According to a study done by Kelly Services, there are 600 million workers in the developing world and out of those workers 115 million work as independent contractors, 50 million are freelancers/business owners, 40 million are temp workers and 30 million are a hybrid of several different types of work.
One thing you cannot deny is that this space is substantial and it is growing all the time. So what does this mean for companies? According to Carroll it means that companies need to continuously educate themselves on trends and they need to be able to adapt to a new type of workforce. We are going to see a move towards employing a mixture of full time, traditional employees as well as gig/freelance workers (depending on the needs of the company). With this shift in workforce it is important for HR and procurement personnel to work together and to sit down together to make a strategic plan. If companies choose to ignore this change they will not be able to attract and retain today’s top talent, and therefore they will stunt the company’s growth.
What does it mean for individuals? Carroll encourages young people who are just entering the workforce to try three types of internships; one with a large company with a well-known name brand, one with a small entrepreneur, and one as an independent contractor in order to get a sense of the different ways to work. She also says it is important for workers to “get a specific skill set and keep adding to it” and to stay educated about business trends and the different ways people are finding work.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode:
Mon, 14 November 2016
We explore the people strategy Adidas has been implementing with chief HR officer, Karen Parkin, and we talk about how things might be changing in the world of work.
Karen Parkin is the chief HR officer at Adidas, a global sporting goods company headquartered in Germany. Parkin has been with the company for 20 years and with her background in sales she has been able to bring a unique perspective to the company’s new people strategy.
Adidas has been going through a lot of changes including the arrival of a new CEO, which will bring about a change in culture and strategy in itself. Another change that has been taking place is in the company’s people strategy. Adidas understands the importance of evolving with the ever changing world of work and the importance of employee experience and engagement. Parkin says, “to be successful we need the best people sitting in the right seats”, so when they were developing their new people strategy they had four pillars in mind. These four pillars dealt with attracting and retaining people, inspiring role models, fresh and diverse perspectives and creating the right environment for employee talent.
Adidas recognizes that the world of work is changing and they knew they needed to develop a strategy that allowed them to adapt over time. They also feel that diversity in the workplace is very important and that welcoming in the new generations while still respecting the generations that are already in the company is essential. Adidas acknowledges that the competitor landscape has changed and they are no longer just competing with other sporting companies such as Puma or Nike, but they are in competition with all large global companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. As Parkin states, “the war for talent is over”. Companies cannot afford to just sit back and assume people will want to come work for them. In this day and age Companies have to work hard to attract and retain talent.
Adidas traditionally conducted surveys every 2-3 years to look at employee engagement, however they are now bringing the focus to new management and a feedback culture where they can measure the experience employees are having everyday. Parkin brings a fresh look to these measurements as her background is not in HR, but in sales. She believes it is important to measure from a brand perspective, asking employees on a quarterly basis about how likely they would be to refer the company to peers, friends, coworkers and family. Parkin is constantly thinking about what her consumers want, need and think. She believes “people are the heart of the company, and HR is the head”.
Another change Adidas has implemented is “moments that matter”. Parkin believes that in today’s workplace there is no longer a one size fits all model. The experience that one employee has is going to be completely different from someone sitting right next to them. Adidas brought a diverse group of employees into room and HR led an interview process where they asked the employees what moments mattered the most to them. From there Parkin and her team plotted several different employee experiences to see what the key moments would be.
Some key moments that are common across the board to all employees would be the recruitment process and what the first conversation with Adidas looks like. Another key moment would be the first day in a new position. Some moments that matter that are not necessarily common to all people would be someone that wants to take a sabbatical, someone who wants to start a family or someone who wants to leave the company to work for another. All of these moments matter to employees and they are moments that Adidas is focusing in on to make sure they are great, memorable experiences.
While keeping up with the changes in the world of work, It is important to be sure that your company is not just following any and every trend that pops up. Companies should understand their goals, culture and employees and make sure the trends work with their overall big picture before implementing any changes. The key, as Parkin puts it, is for leadership to understand that “people, products and brands matter equally”.
According to Parkin, one of the most fundamental changes in the world of work is that it is “about the people, and it starts with the people”. The new role of HR needs to be the “table where the changes begin and a voice on behalf of the people”; HR is about people.
What will you learn in this episode:
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 7 November 2016
Diane Hoskins, the Co-CEO of Gensler explains the importance of workplace design and what organizations can do to improve employee experience, productivity, and innovation.
Diane Hoskins is the Co-CEO of Gensler, which is a global design firm that focuses on creating a better world through the power of design. The company started in San Francisco 50 years ago and they now have about 5,000 employees and 46 offices all over the world. Hoskins has degrees in Architecture and Business.
Over the past 10 years Gensler has been conducting research on workplace design and how it affects productivity, innovation and competitive dynamics. In all of their research they came to the conclusion that workplace design does in fact contribute to innovation and productivity. When Gensler gets an initial call from an organization wanting to update their workplace they start by getting an understanding of what the core needs of the organization are. They have to get a sense of what the organization’s current culture is like, what its values are, and where the company is going in the future. During this process they interview employees, give out surveys, observe day to day activities and collect data in order to best serve the needs of the company. There are no two companies that are exactly the same, so it is important to design a workplace that uniquely fits each one.
One topic in workplace design that has been debated a lot over the past few years is open vs. closed office spaces. Some people think it is better for everyone to have their own offices or cubicles and they believe that meeting spaces should be closed off and private. Others think open workspaces creates a better working atmosphere where people are more creative. Hoskins believes that it is all about a diversity of spaces and giving employees choices in their workplace. She says it is not about choosing either open or closed spaces, but having a mixture of both. For example, an organization could have closed meeting spaces of various sizes, open informal meeting areas with soft seating, and coffee bars and cafes for working and “unplanned chance encounters”. Hoskins says it is all about “unlocking the pathways that allow employees to step out of a routine”.
Business leaders have begun to see that there is a relationship between their workplace design and the performance of their employees and their company as a whole. They can see it in examples such as Airbnb, Facebook, and Etsy. The most innovative companies are not using the office spaces of the past where the whole building had one static floor plan that was built with the job in mind instead of the employee. Now, organizations are realiizing that their workplace needs to be more fluid and adaptable and one that is designed to create an atmosphere where employees can do their best work. Hoskings says ideally companies would be adaptive, making small changes to their workplace all the time to keep up with their employees and the current technology. However, that is not always possible monetarily or physically, so she suggests that companies take a look at their design every 2-4 years to make sure it is the most effective use of the space.
So what do employees want in a workspace? Based on Gensler’s research, the things that employees want are pretty basic and not anything over the top. The four main things that employees want are individual spaces that have a functional layout, adjustability that allows them to adapt their workspace to their current needs (sitting down, standing up, etc..), noise management, and access to the resources they need. After those four basics the next things on the list were food related such as a cafe or a coffee shop. Things that were not high up on the list were the over the top additions such as slides and ping pong tables.
The fact is that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in our work environment and that is why it is so important to have a space we can go to that allows us to feel connected, be productive, and stay focused. This also in turn helps the business because as Hoskins says, “healthy, strong people do great work”.
What you are going to learn:
Links From The Episode: