Today’s insights are brought to you by my colleague and futurist, Buhle Dlamini.
Getting ready for a changing world of work requires us to not only understand the trends that are shaping the future but also to apply our minds to what these changes will mean for the future of people.
At Tomorrow Today Global we see the mega trends shaping the future as Technology, Institutional Change, Demographics, Environment, and Social Values. We refer to these by their acronym- TIDES of change. A lot has been said and written about how these TIDES of change will shape everything from how we work, to how we live and play, but what does it mean for the future of people?
What do organisations need to do today to create a future workplace with people in mind?
What do we need to consider for the future of people and work?
It’s time to listen and have courageous conversations
The pandemic and the disruption that the whole world went through highlighted a lot of issues we need to rethink when it comes to how we live and work on this shared planet. It highlighted some of the inequalities that remain unaddressed and the need to finally address them for the success of our collective future.
The global demographics continue to shift as more and more people from all over the world continue to move around. Nationalities no longer mean what they used to a century or a few decades ago, everyone is literally everywhere now. The globalisation of the planet has created tensions and a need for people to navigate the differences that people bring to the workplace. For the longest time leaders believed that if you just focus on the fundamentals of business and the market, people will take care of themselves. The killing of George Floyd and the global response to it revealed that ignoring issues of discrimination and inequality will no longer be tolerated.
To prepare for the future, organisations need to create platforms and opportunities to listen and have courageous conversations with their people. Sweeping issues under the proverbial rug will no longer suffice. To succeed in the future, we need to focus more on issues of psychological safety at work.
You may be familiar with the concept of Psychological Safety—the extent to which the climate allows for interpersonal trust and respect. It is not new in organisational behaviour but has had a resurgence in recent years. In psychologically safe work environments, people feel they can trust their colleagues, take interpersonal risks, use their voices, share ideas, and suggest organisational changes without fear of reprisal. Conversely, when people perceive they are the target of bias, it directly impacts their sense of belonging and psychological safety. Research shows that, when team members feel they cannot act in an authentic manner within their group, it not only affects the employee experience but also
their level of engagement, information sharing, and learning. And this in turn impacts innovation.
The study conducted by Professor Amy Edmonson from Harvard Business School is one of the most prominent examples. Creating a psychologically safe environment is essential for leaders to foster a positive team dynamic. Project Aristotle, conducted by Google over the course of two years and encompassing 180 Google teams around the world, concluded that the number one factor for the success of Google’s high-performance teams was psychological safety. To get to psychological safety you need to start by listening to people and having honest and courageous conversations. These conversations include being willing and open to challenge the status quo about some of the issues affecting people so we can deal with them going forward.
Creating Cultures of Inclusion and Belonging
People are realising that working in environments that don’t value the differences they bring to the workplace is not good for their well-being and they are voting with their feet in the great resignation. The battle for talent in the future is going to come down to who has the culture that is most conducive to giving people a sense of inclusion and belonging. Diversity is now a given, so no longer a differentiator. What sets organisations apart today is not who is the most diverse, but rather who can create a culture that leverages the value that diversity brings through inclusion and belonging. Successful organisations will be ones that don’t downplay or ignore differences but that celebrate and leverage them, allowing people to be fully who they are. This requires leaders to continually equip themselves with Cultural Intelligence Skills and learn to manage and disrupt Unconscious Bias in the workplace.
Navigate The Intersection between People and Technology
Technology and digital platforms play an increasingly more central role in how work is achieved today and into the future. As such, a big part of the future of work is navigating this intersection between people and technology.
“We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent, and HR challenges – at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption, and political and societal upheaval.”
Carol Stubbings, Global Leader, People, and Organisation, PwC
We are already in this transition as we have changed the way we work because of the pandemic. Virtual or remote work meant an increase in our reliance on technology not only to do day-to-day tasks but also to do human interaction tasks like meetings, training, collaborating, and learning. The promise of augmented reality and virtual reality is now much closer than ever before. But these are technologies that still require human interaction, whereas there is an increase in autonomous technology that requires little to no interaction from humans. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already employed in all our organisations in one way or another to accomplish some tasks more accurately and faster than humans can. The key to the future is going to be how we equip people to navigate this intersection successfully in bionic organisations.
A big part of this navigation is going to be how we also work successfully in an increasingly hybrid workplace where we regularly work with people who are virtual/remote and some who are in-person, not just occasionally but permanently. Leaders and teams will need to master the ingredients required for Hybrid Teams to be healthy and thrive.
So, given all the changes ahead, what shall we do to be ready for the future of work and people? Why not start by focusing on these three areas:
- Listening and having honest and courageous conversations
- Creating Cultures of Inclusion and Belonging
- Navigating the Intersection Between People and Technology
Use these as guideposts for where you need to be putting your focus and guide the conversations you should be having about the future of your organisation.
About the author of today’s Tuesday Tip – Buhle Dlamini
The way we think about people working together in organizations continues to change. We need to apply new ways of thinking about all aspects of people working together: Teamwork, Organisational Culture, Belonging, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. That’s what the future of people is about.
Buhle Dlamini brings his extensive experience in organizational culture, diversity and cultural intelligence to help you navigate the future of people in a changing world. Chat to us about booking Buhle for your upcoming conference or event.