The future of work: tomorrow’s top-tier employers

Winning the war for talent once the pandemic dust has settled

The way top talent is attracted and retained is changing as we move into an era of resilience over efficiency. Tomorrow’s top-tier employers will arise from how convincingly employees are empowered, valued, and supported as people, not just workers. If you want business to be resilient, your people must be resilient too, and this means nurturing and supporting all aspects of life that make people happy and whole, not just their work and career.

Amidst the enormous stresses of the crisis, it’s clear that some employers are doing better than others at looking after and protecting their people. At Sei Mani, we see five key behaviours emerging that will define the top-tier employers of tomorrow. 

1. Provide a social safety net

A recent employee experience report from CIPD showed that a quarter of employees say that work has had a negative impact on their physical and mental health. The crisis has put individuals and families under stresses that could not be prepared for, which has meant that many employers have stepped up to play a much greater role in emotional, mental, physical and financial wellbeing. This has included counselling services, financial support, childcare, fewer restrictions of sick leave and other social safety nets that have helped people feel valued and protected. In contrast, some other businesses have done less to support employees through these difficult times which has left people adrift, financially insecure and prone to mental and emotional illness. 

Employers who continue the social safety net trend will attract and retain talent much more effectively than competitors who don’t. The very best will be those who proactively get to know individual circumstances and offer tailored support beyond the standard package. 

2. Feed intrinsic motivators to drive engagement

Coronavirus has at last torn up the dusty old playbook that insisted on legions of workers commuting back and forth to offices daily to be watched over by bloated middle management. This was a major contributor to disengagement but now that we’ve proved people and teams can be productive from anywhere, employers are realising the engagement flows from nurturing intrinsic motivators like autonomy, mastery, and purpose, which Daniel H. Pink addresses in his book, Drive

Autonomy – Our desire to be self-directed, not micromanaged. 

Mastery – The urge to get better and better at what we do and learn new skills. 

Purpose – The desire to be involved in work that has meaning. 

To be a top-tier attractor of talent you must give employees ownership of work, time and opportunity for growing skills, and immerse them in a culture of purpose and positive impact. In a hybrid digital workplace, this means a combination of leadership over management, increased investment in personal development, and a much greater emphasis on purpose and mission. 

3. Create job resilience

Recent events have shown how fragile most businesses are in the face of unprecedented change. We’ve been forced to revaluate the importance of resilience and accept that if disruption can happen then it eventually will. A vital part of making us ready is job resilience. 

Responses to the pandemic have revealed behaviours which will sow the seeds for job resilience in coming years. We’ve seen new flexibility in contracted working hours and options for stepping people up and down rapidly in the wake of disruption. A global management consultancy we work with offered 60% hours and 70% pay as an option to staff. A neat way to reduce costs and keep people engaged when billable work dries up. 

Job resilience is also about making roles and skillsets more fluid to address the needs of the moment and respond to disruption. This means understanding and communicating today’s most critical workflows so that leaders and teams and can rapidly redeploy and unlock people’s hidden potential through knowledge sharing and on-the-job learning. This tendency is reflected in the emergence of opportunity marketplaces in enterprises, which are systems and platforms that enable people to access business critical work opportunities while building skills and reputation for themselves. 

Tomorrow’s top-tier employers will project job resilience as a key differentiator in the marketplace. They will seek candidates with attributes suited to uncertainty such as adaptability, dynamism, and change tolerance. 

4. Create blended teams and hybrid workplaces

The forced shift to remote working has resulted in vastly different experiences for individuals, partly dictated by the suitability of workspaces at home, but also by the ability of businesses to provide immersive and engaging digital workplaces. As your people return to the office in uncertain numbers the challenge will continue as you attempt to create seamless hybrids of the digital/physical workplace. With a likely majority of your people continuing to work remotely, they can no longer be the second-class citizens in the room.  

Job candidates of tomorrow will want proof that you facilitate blended teams through world class digital workplaces, consumer grade app experiences, generous investment in home office set up, and attractive company offices that bring everyone together safely, no matter where they are. They will seek open, inclusive and supportive cultures where people lookout for each other.

5. Begin and end with trust

We’ve seen an unfortunate shift among some companies to introduce surveillance and monitoring measures for remote employees. We firmly believe this is a fear response springing from a “workers must be seen” mindset.  

The CIPD report referenced above revealed that:

  • 45% of employees believe that monitoring is currently taking place in their workplace. 
  • 86% believe that workplace monitoring and surveillance will increase in the future. 
  • 73% of employees feel that introducing workplace monitoring would damage trust between workers and their employers. 

All of this is damaging to trust, autonomy, empowerment, engagement and productivity.   

Jason Fried, Basecamp CEO says: “The only way to look at the work, is to look at the work. The work should speak for itself and it should be viewable and visible from anywhere.” This is the mindset you must adopt to be a top-tier employer of the future. Trust is at the heart of any successful relationship and all benefits flow from it. If you don’t trust your employees today take an honest look at how this came about. 

People not workers

Resilience flows from appreciating the interconnectedness of systems and people, not what they are in isolation. To be a top-tier employer of tomorrow, treat and support your employees as whole people not just workers. 

How Future Worx can help 

Future Worx specialises in helping companies completely reinvent the way work gets done in a hybrid remote world. We do this by putting your people at the heart of change to create open, inclusive culture and future fit digital workplaces. Get in touch today to discuss possibilities with one of our experts.