The Future of People in the Workplace

Kristen Brunkow O'Shea

WE’VE ALL HEARD IT, the workplace is changing rapidly. What does this really mean? Johnny Taylor, CEO of Society for Human Resource Management, shows the different workplace eras: hunter-gatherer, agricultural, industrial, informational, and we are heading into an augmented era as you read this. Augmented era means integrating artificial intelligence with human development. The problem is, our mental model is still in between the industrial and informational era.

Clearly our current management and employee engagement models are not working as two-thirds of Americans are not engaged in their jobs. This means they show up to work and give mediocre effort, or worse. So, what does this mean for your company as we look to the future?


5 THINGS FOR MANAGERS TO CONSIDER 
in order to leverage employees’ greatest assets

  1. Behavioral Economics
    Pay attention to the data on human behavior. Gather, measure, analyze and predict it. The trends show we are getting something wrong, we must change our way of thinking. If you don’t have time for this, hire someone to do it.
  2. Expectations
    The most important indicator for employee engagement is for employees to know what is expected of them at work. According to Gallup, this is only six in 10 employees. Start simple with their job descriptions. Does it align with the work you are asking them to do? Then take it a step further by collaborating with them on goals and understanding their priorities.
  3. Leverage Strengths
    You will get the most out of employees if you focus on their highest potential for performance, which lies in their strengths, not their weaknesses. You should not only The future of people in the workplace know their strengths, but strategically aim them at performance outcomes. Studies show an increase in well-being, performance and engagement when people use their strengths.
  4. Recognition
    Gone are the days of annual reviews. No one likes to hear what they’ve gotten right or wrong months later. People need frequent feedback and constant coaching in the moment. The sooner you can provide feedback the better. If you are providing critical feedback, aim it toward future performance. If you are recognizing good work, make it as specific as possible.
  5. Managers to Coaches
    Managers account for a 70% variance in employee engagement according to Gallup. Shift in thinking from managing to coaching. Employees want someone who cares about their growth and development. Focus on performance and be authentic.

Taylor predicts that in our future, we will experience a maniacal focus on culture. We’ve all heard it, “If we had bean bag areas and nap stations, unlimited vacation, free lunch for our employees every day, or allow people to work from home that will create a good culture.” WRONG.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace says, “If employees don’t have great managers, if they don’t know what is expected of them or if they are not in roles that match their talents, then the longest possible list of perks is not going to be a cure all.” A focus on culture means a focus on human development.

Your organization’s greatest asset is your people. And your people’s greatest asset are their strengths…it’s time to leverage them.


Kristen O’Shea, owns the consulting firm, O’Shea Strengths Coaching, where she speaks, trains and coaches teams and individuals for increased engagement and well-being in the workplace and world through strengths.