The Future of Work Podcast With Jacob Morgan | Futurist | Leadership | Workplace | Careers | Employee Experience & Engagement |

It is quite common for people to worry about technological advances such as AI, Automation and self-driving cars. And while these changes are coming, it won’t happen overnight.

The impacts of technology are all around us. You don’t have to go far to hear a conversation about how technology is shaping the future of work and the way that we live. You can see it on television, you can read it in the newspaper or in online blogs, you can hear it on the radio--it really is all around us.

The subject of technology is usually at the forefront of any conversation about changes in our world such as AI, automation, the Internet of Things, robots, self-driving cars, etc… A lot of times people are quick to panic when these subjects are brought up. They worry about automation taking over jobs, they worry that self-driving cars will be dangerous, they worry that robots will become too advanced.

But it is important for us to remember that there is more to these changes than just the technology. Just because we have the technology in place to create these things doesn’t mean that they can be implemented tomorrow. There is a lot more that has to happen aside from the technological ideas and know-how.

Other things that have to be considered before things are implemented are rules and regulations, ethical issues, culture, society and the environment. For example, we have to have rules in place that will help a self-driving car make critical decisions in the case of an accident. Also, before something can be widely implemented humans have to be comfortable with the idea of using the technology. There was a time when Airbnb or Uber probably wouldn’t have been accepted by people, for example.

Don’t get me wrong, the changes brought on by technology are inevitable and they will keep coming. But we need to remember that we aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and all of a sudden be living in a whole new world; these things take time.

Direct download: Technology_Alone_is_Not_Enough_to_Change_the_World_podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:08am PDT

Kimberly Samon is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Weight Watchers. She has more than 20 years of HR experience in the Retail industry. Previously Samon was at KSL Advisory Services, a private Corporate Strategy and Human Resources Consulting firm providing expertise to companies on all facets of their business.  Before assuming that position, she held top HR and Strategy executive roles with Simmons Bedding Company, Frito-Lay, HQ Global Workplaces, Lacerte Technologies, and Kinko’s (now FedEx Office).

Samon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, a MBA in Management from Mercer University, and a JD with a focus in Labor and Employment Law from Stetson University.

Weight Watchers started in 1963. With over 18,000 employees, it is the world’s leading commercial provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. In the more than 50 years since its founding, the company has built its business by helping millions of people around the world lose weight through sensible and sustainable food plans, activity, behavior modification and group support.

Weight Watchers has gone through a major transformation over the past several years. When Samon started working there the industry was in turmoil, but they have found a way to refocus their brand and in turn they have seen the company return to success. It started as a company that was solely focused on weight loss, but now it is a company that looks at the overall well-being of their clients. It is not just about losing weight, it is now about being your healthiest self--physically, mentally and emotionally.

Samon believes that instead of thinking of work-life ‘balance’, it is important to think of it as work-life ‘integration’ – we need to give ourselves permission to not work 24 hours a day. For instance, Samon will go to events during her children’s school day but then will work later in the evening.

What will leadership skills look like in 2025? The fundamentals like communication will remain the same and results orientation is always going to be fundamental to organizations. Now people want to be attached to a purpose, and a meaningful mission. So how people show up may change but fundamentals won’t change.

Samon’s advice for employee skill sets are to have technology skills, be agile – as a way of thinking.  and have the ability to collaborate.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What it is like to work at Weight Watchers
  • How Weight Watchers has evolved over the last few years
  • Fundamental leadership skills for now and the future
  • What practices listeners can use to be more authentic, empathetic and vulnerable at work
  • The distinction between traditional and non-traditional HR
  • How WW justifies spending money on Employee Experience
Direct download: Kimberly20Samon20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:36am PDT

Want to get a visual of what our future may look like? The best thing to do may be to grab a sci-fi book off of the shelf.

Over the years there has been a multitude of great science fiction books and movies that have been released. Authors like H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Philip Dick and Orson Scott have created fantastic futuristic worlds for us to think about. Movies such as The Matrix, Avatar, Interstellar and Total Recall have been very popular entertainment. But what is the role of science fiction in the future of work?

Works of science fiction, whether they are books, movies or TV shows, allow us to get a glimpse into what the future could be like. They have allowed us to see things like robots, AI, connected devices and self driving cars before they were mainstream realities.

It is one thing to read research, data reports and to look at the numbers to see projections 10 to 20 years out. It is another thing completely to be able to physically view practical (or extreme) ways in which different technologies and advancements could be implemented into our world. It is hard to grasp what the future could look like when all you have is data and numbers. Works of science fiction movies and books help paint a picture that makes it easier to visualize what could be.

So the next time you are wondering what the future may hold 10 to 20 years down the line, pick up a good science fiction book or go out and see a science fiction movie. You may get a good glimpse into what’s to come.


Jordan Birnbaum is the VP and Chief Behavioral Economist at ADP. In his role, he is responsible for the integration of behavioral economics into software design and marketing communications of new talent-based products. Birnbaum has more than 20 years experience as a start-up specialist and entrepreneur, as a Founder / Senior Vice President at Juno Online Services and Founder / CEO of The Vanguard, Los Angeles. He holds a BS from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in I/O Psychology from NYU.

ADP – Automated Data Processing - began in the 1950’s. It is a Fortune 500, company with 50,000 employees worldwide. 1 out of 6 people gets paid by ADP. They have adapted and evolved to look at down the road at the art and science of providing payroll.

“Behavioral Economics is putting ‘would’ in front of ‘should’”.  The idea is to improve the predictions of human reactions to just about anything. Being able to define ‘the should’ is critical.

When it comes to loss aversion, “human beings are twice as motivated to avoid a loss as we are to secure a gain.” So it is twice as motivating to avoid losing $100 than it is to gain $100. The impact of gaining it is only half as impactful.

How can managers and leaders apply this in a company? Through communications.

An example of Loss Aversion:

Trying to get people to participate in leadership development programs. Two sentences and understanding how to frame:

  1. Consider all the career advancement that you stand to gain if you were to improve as a leader.

Or

  1. Consider all the career advancement that you stand to lose if you don’t improve as a leader.

Changing just 2 words makes the second sentence twice as motivating as the first. So understanding how to frame things relative to what we stand to lose versus what we stand to gain is often the difference between success and failure.

Birnbaum’s advice to listeners is to realize that ‘should’ is not a very good predictor and he says behavioral economics is a great party topic!

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • The power of saying...”but you are free to decline.”
  • What role Priming can play in business, marketing and other spaces
  • What is a Heuristic method and its role in behavioral economics
  • What consistent irrational behaviors we should be aware of
  • How to drive behavior change in the workplace
  • How loss aversion can be used by managers
Direct download: Jordan20Birnbaum20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:59am PDT

Celeste Warren is the Vice President of Human Resources and Global Diversity and Inclusion, Center of Excellence at Merck. In this dual role, she has responsibility for the strategic and operational Human Resources support of Merck's Global Legal, Compliance, Communications, Population Health, Patient Health and Global Public Policy Organizations.

She is also responsible for working with Merck’s global leaders to advance and embed diversity and inclusion as a strategic approach to maximize business performance and create a competitive advantage. Warren is extremely passionate about D&I and she has received numerous awards for her work including Diversity Global’s 2017 Influential Women in Diversity award and most recently she was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.

Merck is a pharmaceutical organization that makes drugs, operating in about 140 countries with about 60,000 employees.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Warren explains that diversity is simply our ‘differences’. For example: men/women, Black, White, Latino or a disability that is not visible, whether someone is married or single, genetic differences, and in general, what difference someone identifies with.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is creating a culture that allows all people to ‘bring themselves into work’.

When you have employees with differences within the organization, how do you create a culture of inclusion that allows them to be able to bring themselves into work? We have to find out whatever people identify with - so they can be productive. We also have to ensure that people aren’t marginalized and that their ideas are received and considered, to contribute to the success of the organization.

There are four diversity ambassador teams at Merck that look at D/I.

The first is employee business or affinity groups. There are 10 groups in Merck that come together once a month to talk about issues within organization to be the voice of organization.

The second is their global diversity and inclusion business consortium. This group focuses on how business leaders need to do their job through the lens of D/I and so they learn from each other

The third is the global diversity and inclusion extended HR leadership team who ensure that work is done with the lens of D/I

And the fourth group’s focus is on creating a culture for employees with disabilities.

Advice for managers to be more aware of Diversity & Inclusiveness

  1. Look inside themselves, what are the capabilities, how knowledgeable am I? Read articles, around D/I and see what is happening around the world.
  2. Build your own capabilities - take a few online courses to look at unconscious bias and how it impacts your leadership
  3. In staff meeting, bring in an article around diversity and start a dialog, create a safe, brave space to talk about these things. What can I be doing better? What can I do to better create a culture?
  4. Take that information and go to your peers/ your manager. Have that discussion with your manager to figure out how your organization can create a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Warren’s advice for individual employees is to understand your own biases, come into the workplace and talk with your peers about it – bring in an article, get together with others and talk about things happening, have a conversation with your manager and join an employee affinity group. Get involved and be a leader. 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What role diversion and inclusion plays in organizations
  • Why should organizations think about diversity?
  • How is diversity and inclusion tied to business goals?
  • What data should organizations look at in terms of D/I?
  • What roles individual employees, managers and leaders play in creating a more diverse and inclusive organization
Direct download: Celeste20Warren20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:09am PDT

A study about satisfaction carried out by a professor of psychology gives us something to think about in the workplace.

Tom Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, did a study along with some members of his team to find out how levels of satisfaction are affected by spending money on experiences versus spending money on physical things. Gilovich and his team found that people who spend money on physical things such as phones, computers, houses or cars tend to have a drop in satisfaction as time goes on. On the other hand, they found that people who spend money on experiences, like skydiving, traveling or learning a new skill, have higher satisfaction levels overtime.

How can we translate this phenomenon into the workplace? A lot of times the relationship we have with our organizations tends to stay very transactional. When we first get the job our satisfaction levels are high, we are excited, expectant and happy. However, as time goes on we tend to become more and more dissatisfied with our jobs. We get bored, disconnected and burned out.

Organizations need to find a way to allow employees to feel as if they have purchased an experience--as if they have climbed a mountain or gone skydiving. They need to find a way to help employees get that feeling of increased satisfaction as time goes on. If organizations could do this successfully, think of what that would do to the way we work, the way we feel and the way we live. What do you think? How do you think organizations could fix the way we view work?

Direct download: the20future20of20work20is20employee20experience20midweek20podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:42am PDT

Chip Heath, PhD. is the Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  He is also the co-author (along with his brother, Dan) of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and a new book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.

 

The Power of Moments looks at defining moments. Defining moments are those that stand out in the flow of experiences. In life, there are probably a half of dozen ‘moments’ that stick out. For example, when you meet the person you will marry or have big moments in your career. But you also have smaller moments – like times on a vacation.

Defining moments can be good or bad times. One example of a bad defining moment is when basketball player, Michael Jordan was in high school. He tried out for the varsity basketball team but did not make the team and was instead place on the lower, junior varsity level team.  This was a defining moment for him. So, throughout his life, when he has gone through tough times, he would remember seeing his name on the list for the less prestigious team. That memory would drive him.

4 Elements of Defining Moments:

  1. Elevation – ‘Rise above the everyday’. These are moments of powerful sensory sensations – like watching a fireworks show where there is sound and lights.

In an organization it would be a promotion - if it came with a celebration in some way.

  1. Insight – ‘Rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world’. In our daily lives, every now and then a break-through happens, something becomes clear to us. For example, this is the person I want to marry or this is a job I don’t want.

In the workplace, if you can provide insights to clients then they will love you. “Often what people want from us is a level of insight rather than comfort or pleasure.”

  1. Pride – ‘Capturing us at our best achievement’ – undervalued at most organizations. It is hard to praise people as much as they would like to be praised. There is a huge benefit of saying ‘I saw what you did… great work’.
  2. Connection – ‘connecting with others’. Connecting with others is very powerful.

“Connection requires a level of depth that we don’t often get to in the workplace.” But when we get to that level of depth it’s amazing that we can get to it very quickly.

Heath says there are two reasons why don’t we praise people enough. First of all, we think we are doing it. We ‘feel’ positive towards employees and we think we’ve said, ‘nice work’. It takes discipline to articulate the words.

Also, it is surprisingly embarrassing to say positive things directly to someone face to face.

If organizations can take the time to look at the four elements of defining moments and figure out how to create powerful and impactful moments for their people, the results can be astounding.

How can your organization take the first step to creating “Powerful Moments”?

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How John Deere tractor company welcomes new employees
  • The power of praise
  • How to build in defining moments into your organization
  • What role does ‘creating moments of stretch’ play in one’s life or organization?
Direct download: Chip20Heath20Podcast-DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:37pm PDT

Now more than ever employees are looking for a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. But where does that purpose come from--the worker or the organization?

There is a story about President Kennedy visiting to NASA in the 1960s. While he was visiting he was walking down a hallway and saw a man who was carrying a broom and a bucket and Kennedy asked the man what he did at NASA. The man, who was a janitor at Nasa, replied, “Sir, I help put a man on the moon”.

That story has been told and retold because it is a great example of the importance of having a sense of purpose in the work that we do. But where does that sense of purpose come from? Is it something that the organization is supposed to provide for you or is it something that the employee is supposed to come to work with?

I think the answer is that it is partially the responsibility of both parties to create. I believe that the organization needs to help employees connect what they are doing to the impact they are having in a way that helps them see how they are changing the organization, the community and the world. Organizations can do this through stories, through helping employees feel like they belong at the company and giving them opportunities to grow and advance.

But it is also partially the responsibility of the employee. The employee cannot just show up to work and assume the organization is going to hold their hand and do everything for them. Employees need to have an open mind, they need to find ways to contribute and they need to figure out why they are working for the organization in the first place.

The greatest sense of purpose comes when both the organization and the employee create and nurture that purpose and that mindset on a daily basis. Do you agree with me? Who do you think is responsible for creating a sense of purpose at work?

Direct download: creating20a20sense20of20purpose20done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:30pm PDT

Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a PhD in social science from Caltech, Master's in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago and worked for nine years in artificial intelligence as a research programmer at Lockheed and NASA. He helped pioneer the field of prediction markets, and published The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth, which was the topic of our discussion in a previous podcast episode back in 2016.  His most recent book is entitled, The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life. He also blogs at OvercomingBias.com.

 

The big mistake we are making – the ‘elephant in the brain’.

the elephant in the room, n. An important issue that people are re­luc­tant to ack­now­ledge or add­ress; a social taboo.

the elephant in the brain, n. An important but un­ack­now­ledged fea­ture of how our minds work; an introspective taboo.

The elephant in the brain is the reason that people don’t do things they want to do. They have a lot of hidden motives. People think they do certain things for one reason but really do these things for a different reason.  Some of the motives are unconscious. This may be due to many reasons but one of them is the desire/need to conform to social norms. The book, The Elephant in the Brain includes 10 areas of hidden motives in everyday life. These include:

  1. Body language
  2. Laughter
  3. Conversation
  4. Consumption
  5. Art
  6. Charity
  7. Education – one reason people really go to school is to ‘show off’
  8. Medicine – it isn’t just about health – it’s also about demonstrating caring
  9. Religion
  10. Politics

The puzzle of social status in the workplace is one to be explored. People are always working to improve their position within an organization but often the competition is ‘hidden’ by socially expected terms like ‘experience’ or ‘seniority’. To discuss one’s social status in the workplace is not acceptable. So, to continue to explore and think about people’s true motives can be beneficial.

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • Why people have hidden motives.
  • Are people just selfish?
  • Why do companies have sexual harassment workshops?
  • What could be alternative reasons to hold workplace meetings?
  • How Robin and co-author Kevin Simler researched for the book
  • Do we have the power to change our self-deceptive ways?
Direct download: Robin_Hanson_Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:12pm PDT

Michael Arena, PhD is the Chief Talent Officer at General Motors. He is responsible for enterprise talent management, strategic workforce analytics, talent acquisition, executive development and global learning. GM employs 200,000 people across the globe. Major markets include North America, China and South America.

 

Prior to joining GM, Dr. Arena served as Senior Vice President of Leadership Development for Bank of America's Global Consumer and Small Business Banking group and spent two years as a visiting scientist within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, where he studied the intersection of human behavior, innovation and social connectivity. He is also currently a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is the author of a new book coming out in June, 2018 called Adaptive Space: How GM and other Companies are Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations.

One area that General Motors has looked at is Social Network Analysis, also called ONA – Organizational Network Analysis. This is what you see in your social network – it is a map or grid. Every person is a statistic. Are they someone who is a central connector? Or are they a broker who bridges two groups to drive them. So, GM might start with a survey that asks people about who they interact with each day. Through those surveys they map the connections together. Then they leverage that information and tap it into it.

One example of this is when GM looked at team results. In one area they found that the cohesion scores of a team were correlated to their response rates to requests -the higher the cohesion, the quicker the response rates.  Teams that were spread out had lower response rates and lower quality responses. With that in mind, they relocated people so they were ‘looking at each other’, then created ‘huddles’ – where people could share regularly. It improved productivity by 25% in some cases.

There are multiple areas that are being looked at in GM. One initiative that General Motors is currently focused on is called GM 2020 – it is a bottom up emergent movement. The focus is on how they can reinvent the ‘future of work’ – today. What are some of the key imperatives needed to make it happen? They look specifically at four areas:

  1. Talent gap
  2. Connected Simplicity
  3. Sustainability and Purpose
  4. Innovation

They also have conducted two day ‘blitzes’ called Co-Labs where  particular challenges are worked on – focusing on leadership and innovation. At the end of the session the groups make a pitch. They have found that this is a good way to develop – engage people in real life business challenges.

 

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

  • What does a Chief Talent Officer do
  • How GM is looking to be a disrupter in the future
  • Why an intentional workspace is critical
  • The culture of GM
  • The role of a ‘futurist’ at GM
  • What GM is doing on the People Analytics front
Direct download: michael20arena20podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:08am PDT