Emerging Trends for Organisational Success Part 3: Designing Our Workplaces

Designing Our Workplaces

​We’ve got the staff, we’ve got the work, so how can organisations structure themselves to deliver the best business outcomes?  What are the features of excellent leaders moving forward, and what technologies can they access to manage their HR processes most effectively and efficiently?

“Future-ready” Leadership

A few key themes emerge about modern leadership models.  Clearly, organisations must discover ways to ensure their leadership teams reflect the diversity of the society in which they do business – in regards age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, mental health, gender and so forth.  The best leaders will not emerge based on their membership in the “boy’s club” but through their demonstrated capacity to lead through change, embrace ambiguity and uncertainty, and understand and integrate modern practices of digital, cognitive and AI technology.

In recent research conducted by Chandler Macleod People Insights, the most pivotal skills to employee perceptions of leadership success included culture and engagement, vision and future focus and relationship building. This shows that a leader’s ability to effectively drive and shape culture can make or break an organisation, and align a workforce with their specific vision and strategy.

Research shows that diversity is poor amongst Australia and New Zealand’s current business leaders, and 50% of staff feel that their leaders are biased in favour of people who look, think and act like them. Given the full-time gender pay gap is still almost 15%, modern and emerging leaders can choose to help close the diversity gaps by finding role models who reflect social diversity and by ensuring that equal progression opportunities exist for everyone.  The gap will also be reduced through strategies such as greater digital fluency, strategic career ascension and immersion in opportunities presented by new technology.

The leaders of tomorrow will need to demonstrate their ability to lead with influence in environments of complexity and ambiguity. They will manage their human workforce by supporting them with machines and technology, and they will be able to do this quickly, efficiently and when necessary, remotely. These new competencies for leaders which reflect success will include promotion of transparency to help engender trust and respect with staff.  Modern performance management indicators will demand more the traditional KPIs such as driving strategy, delivering financial results and managing operations.  The future focus will include capacity to work collaboratively, and emerging KPIs will demand outcomes achieved through close interaction with other leaders: even at the C-suite.

Teams – the whole is more than the sum of its parts

New expectations for organisations include team-based thinking embodied at the following 5 levels:

  1. The Ecosystem: team-based thinking serves the organisation, its customers and partners and society generally 

  2. The Organisation: the construction of networks of teams promotes collaboration and empowered decision making 

  3. The Team: teams can be selected to promote agility and collaborative work models. This can drive the shift from hierarchies to cross-functional teams, with leaders learning how to operate in a team and help teams to engage with each other, including building programs and incentives to support “teaming”.

  4. The Leader:  there is growing demand for organisations to select and develop leaders who can drive their team with a growth mindset which promotes an iterative, open, inclusive and effective environment. The success of team based organisational models to improve performance has been demonstrated through Cisco and Google where senior leaders are available to move easily and quickly between projects. Collaboration at senior leadership levels is promoted and employee mobility is facilitated to place the right person on the right team at the right time. Reward structures can be created for C suite (and below) which incentivises effective collaboration and promotes influence and impact through team-based achievement which is celebrated regardless of job level or title.

  5. The Individual: there is a shift in focus for individual team members change from “climbing the ladder” to experience-based growth.  Team members are relying on learning and rewards to look beyond succession and performance management structures. 

HR and technology

It’s a “no-brainer” that the impact of technology on business will grow but in 2019, 65% of Deloitte survey respondents indicated that their HR technology is performing “fair” at best.  Organisations are demanding HR technology which is natural, easy and integrated into the work environment. AI is on the rise, and HR software requires ease of use and smarter analytics. 

Organisations expect the following features from their HR systems:

  • Better employee experience

  • Real time data and dashboards and consolidated view

  • Better data and workforce highlights

  • Easy to use, including ease of updates

  • Cloud-based systems as a strategic HR function

  • Increased HR tech innovation

  • Lower cost

So, what does all of this data and technology mean for the employee experience at work? Emerging technology provides the capacity to review an individual’s experience within the organisation at every point from hire to retire. We can expect to see a move away from “deep-dive” annual or biannual engagement surveys to “pulse” surveys undertaken at more regular intervals. HR technology can enable experience survey as a continuous chain of events and interactions, providing increased connections to the “moments that matter” to employees.

Of course, this does raise the question of how data might be collected and how it can be used.  Some analysts are predicting the use of text analysis which can “read” survey responses, work emails and so forth to assess workplace sentiment to certain situations.  Others are predicting the increased use of emotion recognition software from video/live streaming of staff at work in order to provide insight into their emotional states. Others foresee the use of “wearables” of biosensors (think Fitbits or Apple watches) to help monitor the mental state or stress levels of staff.  Sound like science-fiction? Think again. Recent media reports have recently described the dismissal of a staff member who raised the ire of his employer by refusing to release his biometrics as part of a new sign-in system. Whilst in Sweden, thousands of people have had microchip IDs inserted into their hands to give themselves access into homes, offices, concerts and even to access social media. So, in the world of HR, where will the limits of techno-ethics lie?  How much data is too much?  Can we be certain that all data will be used appropriately?  And what does this mean for individual employees as well as the organisations in which they work? Time will tell but we’d love to hear what you think!

If you missed part one and two of our emerging trends or organisational success series, you can read them here:

Re-imagining the Nature of Work

Adapting How we Work

If you loved this article, why not check out the other articles by our Senior CMPI Consultant Narelle Dickinson:

Using resilience to build happier and healthier workplaces

4 key changes for improved workforce resilience

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