Image Credit: Kimmins Design
In the book, I talk about how different the #FutureofWork will be. With more work to be done than professionals, it is within the realm of possibility that we will become free agents and freelancers, working on projects that best suit our talents and ambitions, across different companies, industries and even countries. In Free Agent Nation, Daniel Pink referred to this as the “Hollywood model”. I found inspiration from this as I forged into my portfolio career almost two years ago, choosing to do what I love 100% of the time: research, writing, consulting, public speaking, and creative pursuits.
Companies of the future who need knowledge workers and experts will have to figure out how to meet business demands with transient talent. For high turnover workforces such as in the retail and restaurant industries, it is today’s reality. Other industries have their own revolving door jobs, mostly in their hourly staff as well. Not enough is done to manage these work experiences, so companies live with higher volumes of employee relations issues, labor disputes, and constant recruitment/termination cycles. It doesn’t have to be this way. A January 2012 article from Harvard Business Review talks about choosing the virtuous cycle (good results) over the vicious cycle (poor outcomes), and how making these jobs “good” will decrease turnover, increase efficiency, and positively impact customer perceptions. (Source: Why Good Jobs are Good for Retailers) Some exemplary retail shops and restaurants have proven this to be true, though any organization can create their own way of doing this, regardless of industry. Here are a few suggestions on where to start from a Design of Work Experience (DOWE) perspective:
1. Make It a Great Place to COME FROM. Similar to other parts of the organization, collaborate with your employees to design a culture and environment that exemplifies your company’s values and ties work (at all levels) to the achievement of the business strategy. Create an environment where people feel valued, find meaning in their work, and collaborate well with others. Tap into the natural human desire to make a difference and learn new things. Establish ways to track achievement even in the most repetitive jobs. Enable employees to have great relationships at work. In other words, set the conditions for success.
You can also use this workforce to provide key insights on customer experiences, perceptions, and interactions that will improve your business. Word will get out as employees brag about their workplaces to their friends and family, knowing that it is a privilege to be a part of something so cool. The good ones will want to stay or stay longer. Those that move on to their next employers will remain loyal customers for life. Who knows? They might advance their careers and return one day to lead in greater capacities. Ultimately, the good reputation of your company will ensure you will always have enough applicants, plus a strong brand to boot.
2. Invest Efforts in Finding the Right People. No matter what degree of skill is required for the job, you want good people who are aligned with your values, take pride in their work, and are honest and ethical. Design your recruitment experience to weed out those that ultimately won’t work out and select for those that will. The standard interview questions won’t do. Create a recruitment experience unique to your company that engages people, digs beyond the surface, and gives you a chance to observe behavior and capabilities.
3. Be Consistent. Treat standards of performance and conduct for what they are—standards. This takes the guess work out for people because they will know what to expect and where the boundaries are. Don’t settle for “ok” or “good enough”, and don’t let things slide. Doing so would give you a workplace with middle performance at best and a tendency to decline. Too often frustrated employees have complained about those that “get away with” things, raising fairness concerns. Address issues through to resolution quickly, whether it means coaching, providing feedback, or even termination. Your stronger workers will appreciate this, and it minimizes stress for everyone.
These principles will help you determine what works best according to the unique context and complexity of your organization. While these are not easy to do and will require some work, the benefits far outweigh the cost in the long-term. Begin your “virtuous cycle” today, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Check out this opinion piece from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, "Recruit Me With A Manicure" as food for thought. There is hardly any topic about diversity that doesn't stir up strong emotions or controversy amongst people. As a woman of color, my life experiences and culture studies have informed how I feel about this. Separate from that, we can respond to this article from a Design of Work Experience (DOWE) perspective. It expands our understanding of the concept, and also gives us a different way of looking at this long-debated topic. Let's look at this hypothetically:
1. First, a company could articulate the archetype of qualities that would be successful there--not what they would like, but what would realistically work in that culture. If it doesn't look pretty, I would suggest some transformation work to set the right conditions for top talent to thrive. Gender (as in the case of this article) wouldn't be a quality per se, but the company might decide that the hired group as a whole should reflect diversity to leverage its benefits.
2. Once they know what they are looking for, perhaps they would go out to understand the behaviors and motivations of candidates. They could look for ways in how those aforementioned qualities are demonstrated and select the people that exemplify them best. To attract these target people to their company, perhaps they follow their activities, interests, and interactions. Then they go out and meet them there. In the process, they might discover that some of these candidates enjoy manicures, so they host an recruitment event at a nail bar.
Not as controversial sounding now, huh? It makes sense. A DOWE approach lets the target candidates define the recruitment activities, which makes the company more attractive to them. It ensures a strong job-person-company fit-match, thus ensuring greater hiring success and retention. Compare that to how some things happen today, where companies don't set the conditions for success, think hiring for job requirements is enough, recruitment activities are always the same, matches aren't that strong, and hiring success rate hovers around the 50% mark (thanks, Google). Convinced? Now design for the on boarding experience, DOWE-style!
Last night, I attended a panel on Mindfulness and Design as part of Stanford University's Design By Contemplation Week. Here's the lineup:
Moderator: Tia Rich, Stanford University, Director Stanford CARES
We had a good discussion between the panelists (despite the theater style set-up) with lots of attendees experienced in design and/or mindfulness. This meant that the starting point allowed us to delve deeper, and there were great questions from the audience. I was personally pleased that much of what was discussed was either adjacent or complemented/supported what I am writing in the book. Always good to get validation along the way! Thought I would share with you screen shots of my twitter feed on this panel. Enjoy!
This is an example of what I suspect is an unintended benefit identified by users: http://nyti.ms/11Xs2lb How might we look for these in our own backyard? We are all too often paralyzed with fear at the prospect of "unintended consequences"--so much so that we forget all about its lesser-known counterpart. There's no need to learn how to do this, you just have to expand your thinking and look for them. It's about paying attention.
This comes from my Facebook Newsfeed. A friend of mine liked this photo from Boycott the Mainstream Media’s page. I find this an inspirational business model and would be curious if it is sustainable over time. Neat idea though!
Like every Sunday in the fall there are NFL games being played. The St. Louis Rams played the New England Patriots today…in London. I’m not much of a sports fan really. My best ability related to sports is spectating—and even then, I’m only into the less popular (in the US anyway) rugby and professional cycling events. What interests me in this particular football game today is that it is yet another example of our world getting flatter (a la Thomas Friedman), worlds and cultures colliding. It is an unusual sight to see a professional football team standing in the middle of adoring fans in Trafalgar Square (as this official NFL photo shows from the St. Louis Register). Football is known as an American tradition after all. Whether anyone thinks this is a good thing or a bad thing, it is a thing to notice. Where different things are brought together in new concepts and experiences, it is always fascinating for me.
A place to share interesting concepts that will inspire, spread, and/or apply new ideas. This page is dedicated to sharing my twitter feed, announcements, and blog posts.