Humanity is experiencing a vast amount of unprecedented change, reports Forbes.
The digitalization, globalization and democratization processes we witness around the world are powering change faster than ever. We all feel the impacts of this evolution in many aspects of our lives—but mostly, in the nature of our work.
Did you know, for example, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have vanished since 2000 as our technology and outreach has expanded?
For some of us, this new era, commonly referred to as “the age of experience” or “age of amazement,” is very exciting! It ushers in prosperity and creativity. But for others, it’s quite the opposite. It brings in constant change, isolation, loneliness and fear. While we have new generations joining the workforce ready to tackle unknown ways of working, we also have generations being asked to become life-long learners.
It has been reported by Gallup that only 13% of our global workforce is engaged in their current work experience, despite the organizational efforts to reduce redundancies, increase automation and advance human services. At the same time, the World Health Organization says the number one cause of depression—already the largest disability epidemic in the world today—is going to be work-related stress by 2030.
Across industries, sectors, and geographies, and regardless of scale and maturity levels, we all share similar questions regarding the future of work: What will we refer to as “work” tomorrow? Who will make up our workforce? What skills and capabilities will we need? How will we integrate robotics? AI? VR? Who will lead our organizations and communities? Who will follow and under which circumstances? Which educations will be preliminary to support economic growth? How do we find better ways to achieve productivity?
Of course, it is customary to blame business leadership for the eclipse of our work experience. While it is completely true that our current business models, leadership and resource management practices are of a product of industrialist philosophies, it may be most beneficial for us to acknowledge our collective work experience declined, not because it was refuted by a few elite, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid in its essence and context surrounding.
Imagine, for a second, if you were the CEO of an organization with a brilliant product. Imagine you had all the capital and resources necessary to build the organization of your dreams. Imagine you could out-write the current management practices we all seem to suffer from. How would you refresh your way of leadership and re-invent management techniques? Would you know which structure to build on your organization? Or which people development practices you should adopt?
At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, where I had the honor of being one of 600 female thought leaders present, we discussed four major trends having an immediate and long-term effect on the workforce and our collective work experiences:
- Digitalization: From the Internet of Things to automation to big data and robotics, organizations around the globe are looking to advance productivity through cutting-edge technology. The last time we faced such transformation, industrialists of its time introduced into business, economical concepts motivating capital owners to invest in new machine technologies. Today, not only we suffer from a 120-year-old ecosystem, we face a tendency to overlook the connection necessary to make between human workforce and technology in transition. The kind of transformation today requires businesses to rethink value creation in a digital ecosystem head to tails.
- Shift in business model: With the effects of globalization, there is a clear movement towards reducing complexity and building agile business processes that are uniquely customizable to customer needs. Unfortunately, we find many organizations still holding onto “old” ways of working while trying to build agility outside of them. The kind of agile needed in the 21st century requires organizations to shift focus inside out and demonstrate leadership by example around integration, innovation and inclusion.
- Shift in resource distribution: With the shift in geopolitical and socioeconomic scales, we are experiencing a whole new demographic mix and skill imbalance across our global workforce. This makes it increasingly more difficult for companies to assess and develop internal capabilities. On one side, we have a group of workers with unlimited options to create new life experiences (through agile work); on the other side, we face a group of workers who may become “irrelevant” in their unique and core skills. In the 21st century, businesses will need to reconnect to their sole purpose in serving society and find ways to support discovery around new skill preparation.
- Culture evolution: With individualism and democratization on the rise, there is an intense desire from our workforce and customers in experiencing their uniqueness, wholeness and identity. The success of businesses hoping to take advantage of 21st-century possibilities depends paradoxically, on their capacity to awaken the humanity inside their organizations and find ways to build space required for people to express their belonging.
While the current ways of working have brought wealth, they have also given way to a wide range of issues, from inequality to segregation of workforce to lack of certain key skills to introducing undue stress onto its workers over the years.
In the new context, businesses will need to serve a purpose broader than revenue generation, organizational cultures will need to be built on trust and integrity and leaders will need to become mindful of their way of “being” and how they relate to others.
In the next several months, I will dissect some of these topics and invite businesses to take in a more humanistic view as part of their story building. I will ask leaders to test evidence-based management practices that can activate meaning, inspiration, safety and joy for self first and after, for all people inside their workplaces. Through our discussions, we will engage in a regenerative process towards re-envisioning future and build constructive energy towards the kind of work experiences we want to create and live in.
Business is no longer an island.
Collaboration and cooperation have become untenable. Organizations are no more self-sufficient, independent or isolated—we are involved with one another more than ever. Taking part in a new culture (of compassion, wisdom, and wellbeing) formation is not only a choice; it is a moral obligation that will affect the experience of us, all.