Most workers are in jobs that are complex, interconnected, and knowledge-based. Peter Drucker began predicting the rise of work accomplished with minds rather than muscle in the 1950’s , and that’s now changed to an emphasis not just on knowledge, but on adaptability . These transitions have deeply impacted the expectations of employees, as greater psychological resources are required of them. Any role, from software developer to CTO, from customer support associate to sales manager, requires navigation in a large network of professional connections. Navigating this hyperconnectivity to do one’s job requires a complex and nuanced set of soft skills.
Sensing these new demands, professionals expect to be developed adequately. Most colleges aren’t explicitly training for emotional and social intelligence skills until post-graduate programs in business leadership, so employees look to the only other place those skills can be acquired: on the job. Unsurprisingly, when they don’t find it there, they look for a role elsewhere that will give them what they need to remain competitive and feel fulfilled.
Skill development solves a deeply-felt problem of doing a job well, but that disparity is by no means the only one. Employees are expected to answer emails after hours and on weekends, to be available for early or late calls, especially if their teams and business are global. Lower-level employees are asked to have schedules that fit the ever-changing needs of their employers, meaning they have to be “on call” and consistency in routine for some is considered a luxury. These demands mean employees expect support in return from their employers - support that help them find
Why we must respond.
If work is complex, deeply reliant on a network of people, and rapidly shifting, then it’s more critical than ever for employers to have a workforce that’s not only
Unmet demands from employees
How some companies are responding.
Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report concluded that employee experience was a central theme to all HR trends (9). McKinsey sees the importance of this issue, too, and indicates they’re investing significant resources to solving this problem. But the approach these two global consulting firms are taking couldn’t be more diverse.
Deloitte notices the gulf between the productivity growth of technology (Moore’s Law) and that of
Refreshingly, McKinsey’s human-centric approach that aligns people with purpose is a step in the right direction. They describe how aligning a business’ culture to instill a sense of purpose and belonging is crucial for employee experience (and has positive bottom-line impacts). More and more, we seem to be waking up to the truth that if we align our work environments in ways that meet our needs as humans, then in fact workers feel “engaged”. Better yet, those solutions are not in conflict with a company’s bottom line - it just requires looking through a different lens.