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Unleashing Human Potential and the Future of Work

In Deloitte's 2014 Global Human Capital Trends survey report, it was noted that a huge gap existed between the urgency of the talent and leadership issues facing leaders, and their organizations' readiness to respond.
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A colleague and I had the opportunity to attend a unique event last week. The event, Creating New Ways to Work, was sponsored by Virgin Pulse and hosted at Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas. The event consisted of a series of informative presentations, along with an engaging moderated panel, discussing the evolution of the workplace, including innovative, new ways to work. The event, part of the Virgin Pulse disruptors series, addressed a host of workplace issues. These included organizational culture, human behavior, employee well-being, and alternative ways of organizing and managing work, people and processes, such as holocracy.

According to Deloitte's 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, employee engagement and culture issues rose to become the number one challenge companies face around the world. In the Deloitte research, more than 50% of respondents indicated that their organizations either had a poor program or no program to measure or improve engagement. This was a theme mentioned throughout the Virgin Pulse event. With each presentation, the belief was clear that organizational culture drove many business outcomes because of its great influence on employee engagement.

Here are some of the key messages from the Creating New Ways to Work event:

  • When employers address holistically the "health" needs (physical, emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual) of employees, we help them to be more focused on the job, increase employee engagement, and increase overall health & productivity. Companies need to focus on total well-being initiatives.
  • Companies must put the "human" back in the workplace. Workplaces need to encourage respect, equality, growth, belonging, and purpose. This begins with leadership. Companies need to create meaningful jobs within a 100% human environment.
  • Organizations must work towards helping individuals feel successful, by providing the proper tools, resources, and incentives. This includes opportunities for real work-life balance, along with autonomy and empowerment in decision-making.
  • Employers need to have the capacity, agility, and flexibility to respond to the complexities and pace of business change. Organizations should explore alternatives to allowing employees to organize and manage themselves than what is currently offered by the traditional management hierarchy. Companies need to look beyond rigid, inflexible management hierarchies and processes.
  • Finally, emphasizing that people are not resources -- they are people! This was brought home when Richard Branson made a brief appearance via video at the event and emphasized that work environments do not work for the people. One of the quotes he made was "If you can put your staff first, your customers second, and your shareholders third, effectively in the end the shareholders will do well, the customers do better, and your staff will be happy."

In Deloitte's 2014 Global Human Capital Trends survey report, it was noted that a huge gap existed between the urgency of the talent and leadership issues facing leaders, and their organizations' readiness to respond. In thinking about this and the discussions held last week, it seemed clear that each of the organizations presenting at the Creating New Ways to Work event were, indeed, on a journey to look into the future. Each had established a pathway to help their organizations remain relevant, competitive, and deliver positive business results, all the while being "human" by adapting to the needs of their people and communities.

From my perspective these organizations are, perhaps, in the minority, and; therefore, one reason for the Virgin Pulse disruptors series. Rapid change continues to occur and organizations and its people need to adapt quickly. How can we help other organizations to adapt and change?

Some questions to ponder:

  • How must work evolve to meet the needs of employees, both today's and tomorrow's?
  • How are others (and, perhaps, your own organization) revolutionizing work?
  • How are you helping your employees "thrive" at work?
  • What is the #1 thing you would change about the way you work?

Agility and resiliency is a must in an ever-increasing complex, global environment. Companies need to manage people differently today, and re-engineer human capital practices to be more forward-thinking in their solutions.

At the end of the day, though, it is the company's purpose-driven mission, values, and passion that ultimately make the difference and leads to an organization's success. How many companies have lost these today?

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