Culture must change to adapt to a new world of work characterized by decentralization and democratization. A conservative culture of top-down leadership will gave way to one in which worker ownership, risk-taking, responsive to rapid change, inclusiveness and simplicity are a priority. No executive team can exert full control over a distributed workforce so they must be willing to acknowledge this reality and let workers have more control over the enterprise to succeed.
This guide is designed to describe some of the key principles of culture and diversity of the future of work. It tries to summarize some of the important insights which were discussed in the Future of Work Pioneers Podcast. There is a great deal of nuance in these discussions and the reader would benefit from going straight to the original podcasts online, with the summary in this guide serving as a signpost for topics he or she finds interesting.
Discussion with Michael Fraccaro (CPO, Mastercard)
Michael Fraccaro makes it clear from the beginning that cultures don’t shift overnight. Coming from his experience at Mastercard, Fraccaro states that he would premise building a culture as more of a 10-year journey.
Many have praised Mastercard’s unique culture, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, how did they do it?
FIVE CRITICAL PRINCIPLES OF CULTURE
The following five key principles have helped Mastercard build a strong people-centric culture:
One critical principle adopted by Mastercard was centered around the idea of risk-taking. This idea was particularly crucial for entering into new markets, along with understanding new segments and how they compete in different areas. Moreover, accepting the fact that you will not always be in the right situation in order to have all the information. However, as emphasized by Fraccaro, in the end, people need to make decisions and actually take some risks themselves rather than deferring everything to a committee.
If you’re going to innovate, you can’t just wait until everything is perfect. You have to push things out, you have to test things, and you iterate along the way.
Having this sense of urgency is, thus, clearly coupled with a mindset that focuses on innovation rather than getting stuck in bureaucracy.
The third principle is centered around ownership. To illustrate this point, Fraccaro provides an example:
The culture had to be that if you walked into a cafeteria and you saw a little paper or a dropping somewhere, you would treat it and treat the place as if it was your home; you wouldn’t pretend that you didn’t see it and walk past it. You would [bend] down and you would pick it up and put it into the wastebasket.
We wanted our people to feel a part of this realization that everything we did was as part of a joint ownership.
Since Fraccaro joined Mastercard, the company has grown both organically and through acquisitions. The Mastercard leadership decided to re-evaluate its culture, and raised the question: Is our culture still relevant today as it was 10 years before?
They decided to employ crowdsourcing and reached out to 400 employees from the acquired companies and from different markets around the world to see if the three principles discussed above were as relevant as before. Was there any difference?
The conclusion was that the three key principles were still relevant and resonated for all 20,000 employees. However, there were an additional two key principles that emerged and were added to the original ones.
It is this principle that is at the core of Mastercard’s culture. As Fraccaro tells us:
Everything that we do is underpinned by this culture of decency…We’ve hired people for their IQ and their EQ, but most importantly, for their DQ (i.e., their decency quotient.
Mastercard wants to compete. Its leadership wants to keep doing great things as a company, but it has to be done in the right way.
The decency quotient is a filter which basically is there where we say: my hand is not in your face, it is on your back.
So, why is this the most important principle of all?
The decency quotient is a way of being a reinforcer of all the elements of our culture that will enable us to go on to better and brighter things. And, that again filters through the entire organization.
Due to the global shortage of STEM talent, successful organizations must tap into all the reservoirs of human capital available. As America’s demographics shift toward a majority-minority society, diversity and inclusion are no merely social justice problems; they are now fundamentally questions of corporate economic advantage.
This exclusive content is part of The Future Of Work: Lessons From The Trenches Of Corporate America | Download the E-Book.
Discussion with Mary Moreland (EVP HR, Abbott)
Diversity has become the top priority for any organization. Many organizations talk about diversity; however, how many are really putting their words into concrete actions?
Mary Moreland, the Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Abbott, has been at the forefront of delivering diversity initiatives at her organization.
Abbott was recently named by Fortune as one of the top 100 best workplaces for diversity. We asked her about how Abbott achieved this culture of diversity: What initiatives have been introduced to foster this commitment to work inclusively and build such an environment for all employees?
BUILDING DIVERSITY IN YOUR ORGANIZATION’S DNA
Moreland tells us about the role of diversity in her organization:
Diversity is just in our DNA, and it is fundamental. But, it really starts with our diversified business model, and it continues into our mindset and our people. It is core to fulfilling our purpose, and it’s embedded in our values, and key, we believe, to our long-term success.
Moreland points out that Abbott strives to create the kind of environment where every employee can feel welcomed and can feel that they can be themselves at work. Concretely, this means creating a culture and a way of doing business where every person should feel valued, respected, and understand what they’re doing is core to Abbott’s purpose.
Given that Abbott is a company that helps people around the world, its leadership also wants this fact of diversity to be reflected in its workforce.
Moreland states that she and her team have achieved success at Abbott in integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion across their businesses. They make diversity, inclusion, education, resources, and training programs available to all. Abbott employees train on topics such as unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and how to be an ally. Additionally, ten thousand of their employees participate in their employee research resource groups, which points to the scale achieved by these programs.
Crucially, all these programs are open to all Abbott employees. Abbott’s leadership has specifically targeted mentoring, training, and development programs in order to support career advancement for diverse employees.
Part of this is done by partnering with historically black colleges and universities to recruit talent. Moreland also gives a historical example from 30 years ago when Abbott helped found a nonprofit called Advanced Minorities Interests in Engineering, which aimed to increase diversity in the engineering workforce.
What about new initiatives looking ahead?
According to Moreland,
We’re focused on the lack of global STEM talent as part of our 2030 sustainability plan. We plan to provide opportunities for more than 100,000 young people, 50% of them from underrepresented groups, to participate in our STEM programs and our high school and college STEM internships.
THE GLOBAL SHORTAGE OF STEM TALENT
So, what do these programs look like?
In 2012, Abbott created a high school STEM internship program, with the aim of developing STEM talent early in students’ careers.
Moreland informs us about their approach:
We found students who were interested in a STEM career, and with the intent of creating a diverse talent pipeline…we wanted to offer meaningful quality STEM experiences no matter what the background, and in the process, increase the diversity of our own STEM talent pipeline.
What were the results of this program?
According to Moreland,
The program’s success actually exceeded our expectations. We continue to attract students who participate in the program. And remember, they started in high school, with ninety seven percent of them going on to pursue STEM degrees in college. Last summer, 70 percent of the students in the program were from diverse backgrounds. We’ve started hiring our first former interns as full-time engineers, which I’ve just been really passionate about. So, these are people who started with us in high school and who we have identified as strong STEM talent. They’ve come back generally for several internships during college, and now, they are full-time employees. Seventy three percent of them are female or are from underrepresented backgrounds.
This is clearly a very impressive program and should serve as an example for many other organizations looking to do the same thing. Moreland reminds us that there is a global shortage of STEM talent today. She shares a statistic projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to which there will be nearly 800,000 more STEM jobs by 2029.
So, that won’t just affect Abbott, that will affect the entire globe, and because of this, last year, we published our blueprint for our high school program so that other companies could leverage our learnings and create their own programs so as to help fill that need by 2029.
This exclusive content is part of The Future Of Work: Lessons From The Trenches Of Corporate America | Download the E-Book.
Discussion with Diane Gherson (Former CHRO, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School)
Employees are becoming as central to the corporation as customers. This is what HR 3.0 means. Digital technologies that leverage integrated data platforms are reshaping the employee experience. As this happens, the role of the Chief Human Resources Officer is becoming more prominent because their mandate is to develop a companies most critical resource: its human capital.
MOVING FROM HR 2.2 TO HR 3.0
Gherson has talked about moving from HR 2.0 to HR 3.0. We asked her what she means by 2.0 and 3.0, and what shift we should be thinking about. Gherson starts by saying that 2.0 is all about re-engineering. It was quite well known in the 80s and 90s. Even five years ago, companies were re-engineering. It was all about taking advantage of the Internet and the low cost of computing and moving work to places where it could be done more efficiently. You had things like call centers, offshore facilities, and shared service. All of that was kind of the back-end that was being reinvented. Instead, Gherson says, 3.0 is actually almost like a hangover that was a really bad experience for people on the other end.
Gherson illustrates the nightmare that it was as an employee to deal with all of this. It took a million clicks to get anything done. You had to go to a million different sites just to solve a problem because everything was organized around a process. In other words, the process was king. The owner of the process had a very efficient process. However, the experience of solving a problem, like how to leave a company or how to join it, would be a nightmare.
All sorts of different things had to happen for things like getting your computer, setting up your Wi-Fi, having your phone work, arranging your healthcare, etc. So, that is a lot of different sites if you use a re-engineering model, which is what 2.0 is all about.
Gherson continues by explaining what 3.0 is about. As mentioned before, 3.0 is all about the experience. One of the great things about digital technology is that it enables you to leverage integrated data platforms, so that you can create fantastic experiences for the user. This means that you can put the user at the center of your design instead of trying to be efficient with your process; therefore, designing something that is really irresistible to the user. This is what 3.0 is about in a nutshell. It focuses on the experience of the receiver, whether it’s a manager or an employee. Another thing that this does is take advantage of AI to make better management decisions instead of using your intuitions or going through a lot of reports. For example, it would show how you have very high turnover rates. However, as Gherson rightly notices, getting that information is interesting. The real question is: what do I do about it?
Gherson continues by saying that 3.0 would say that if you carry on that trajectory, they predict you will only have three data scientists left by the end of next month. Furthermore, it would provide a picture of the characteristics of people who are leaving. This means that we would anticipate that the other eight people have a high propensity of leaving, and these are the things that would cause them to stay. In short, 3.0 goes from merely reporting (2.0) to actually predicting and prescribing as a way of supporting your managers. Additionally, you will get better productivity with automation.
To summarize, you are going to get three things out of 3.0: better productivity, a better employee experience, and better management decisions.
THE CHANGING ROLE OF HR
At the end of our conversation with Gherson, given the context of the pandemic, we asked her how the role of HR has changed. Gherson believes that it has put HR in the forefront just like the CFO who was the top dog during the 2008 crisis. Now, it is the CHRO. It is the CHRO who is responsible for the health and safety of the workforce.
This exclusive content is part of The Future Of Work: Lessons From The Trenches Of Corporate America | Download the E-Book.
Discussion with Jacques van den Broek (CEO, Randstad)
Employment agencies are rethinking how they operate as they must adapt to changes in corporate culture induced by digital technology. Their challenge is to use AI and Big Data to more efficiently connect workers to job opportunities. They must also adapt to a corporate culture that demands greater diversity and inclusion.
CORPORATE STRUCTURE AT RANDSTAD
Diversity and inclusion are important topics in the boardroom across Fortune 500 companies. For van den Broek, inclusion is necessary for two reasons. First, it is a widely known fact that diverse teams and companies perform better. He proudly mentions that at Randstad’s leadership board, they have six nationalities with two women and four men. As a result, they have had a better vantage point and better decision making.
The second one is the evolution of the labor force. Van den Broek emphasizes that you cannot have one ideal profile because your employees need to reflect the profile of the people you serve.
Around 51% of Randstad’s management are females, and van den Broek admits that this took time. As a leader in management, he emphasizes the importance of empowering women in their career paths. Women are going through challenges, like coping with work-from-home setups, while taking care of their family, and sometimes even homeschooling their children. A great asset that a CEO can have is having that awareness with their employees and supporting them, so they can perform better and not be subjected to unnecessary stress.
RETHINKING THE FUTURE WORKFORCE
Van den Broek paints a picture of the future of work from a macro perspective. Companies should ask themselves What does our total workforce look like? What can we do to make it more diverse?
When asked about what future jobs he sees, van den Broek starts off by mentioning that there are a few things that cannot be replaced by any form of technology. Take, for example, service jobs such as taking care of children and households. These jobs still need to have a human touch.
After mapping out a macro perspective of jobs, Van den Broek moves to underscoring the importance of an educational agenda. Lifelong learning has become a major topic today in preparation for the future of work, and interestingly, van den Broek shares with us that according to research they have done at Randstad, out of the 3,000 people who are unemployed they reached out to, less than a thousand people agreed that they would take free educational training in order to move to a different sector.
Another matter is the reconfiguration of public-private partnerships, along with public employment agencies. According to van den Broek, in most cases, there’s always enough money to go around to make these changes, and it mostly goes to social security and upskilling and reskilling initiatives. But, efficient change in the system would have to be developed, and he sees that as something that’s tough and will take time.
AI AND TEXT… HOW DO YOU GET THE RIGHT TALENT?
AI and Big Data breakthroughs are altering industries, with certain businesses having an easier time attracting that type of expertise while the vast majority of Fortune 500 and large firms are suffering.
How can these organizations prepare for this new future, especially given the fact that this talent is scarce?
Van den Broek argues that while AI is on the point of the hype cycle where everybody is talking about it, the practical tools are not yet there. His first advice is for companies not to get overwhelmed, but familiarize themselves first with these technologies and the possibilities they bring.
The quicker employers become familiar with AI and understand how they can train their employees in it, the more of an exciting story they are going to tell as a company, and the easier it will be for them to attract the right talent.
He also advises organizations to scale up and down this type of workforce. He explains that when they measure the motivation of data scientists and engineers, they usually go for the projects and not the traditional jobs. As an employer, you need to define why you need these people and how you can make their work interesting to them.
Van den Broek then shares with us the same parting words he had given his own staff at Randstad in the recent past;
Don’t watch too many news programs, don’t watch too many new shows or read newspapers because you get very pessimistic.
He points out that what the media shows in the news is all about fire, all about a lost generation, and all about what cannot be done. At Randstad, he wants his people to see all of the business possibilities; accept that some changes need to be made, and then go for it. Have an optimistic mindset and don’t get derailed.
Discussion with Kiersten Robinson ( Chief People and Employee Experience Officer, Ford Motor)
Building corporate brands is no longer just about engaging with customers. It also requires that companies build trust with customers and with the employees who can serve as the greatest advocates for the company.
HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN THINKING
Robinson explains how Ford recently completely pivoted their approach to cultural transformation by adopting the principles of human-centred design thinking, which really puts the employee at the center. Whenever a policy change or a change in process comes up, they always start with the employee experience.
One recent concrete example of this is the redesign of Ford’s parental leave policies. They gathered a group of parents, including birth, adoptive, and foster parents, to learn about their experiences and needs in order to mold and inform those policies, ultimately co-creating them with the parents. This led Ford to come up with a very simple and clear policy that made sense in words, and also in the experience that they were creating for new parents.
Another example that Robinson tells us about is a policy that was implemented during the pandemic. While Ford was getting ready to bring back their place-dependent workforce, particularly those in their production facilities, they knew that safety was top of mind for both their employees and their families. Ford spent a lot of time creating a playbook for employees and their families. This playbook allowed families to better understand the conditions and the safety measures that were put in place. Additionally, they gave every employee a “caregiver” because they wanted their employees to feel cared for when coming to the workplace. Additionally, they provided each employee with PPE, face masks, hand sanitizers, monitors, etc.
So that empathy, as well as that understanding for what’s really going to make sense intellectually, but also emotionally for employees, has really been central to the approach that we’ve been taking.
BECOMING THE WORLD’S MOST TRUSTED COMPANY
Robinson also talked about Ford’s aspiration to become the world’s most trusted company. We asked her where this aspiration comes from and which role HR plays in this process. Kiersten starts off by saying that one of the great things about working for a company that has been around for so long is the fact that family is still very much a part of the company.
When Ford started on their culture transformation, they invited employees around the world to tell them what they loved about Ford’s culture and what is really unique and special, and if they could change something, what would it be?
Universally, irrespective of whether an employee has been with us for three months or 30 years, they told us that they love being part of a family company.
When you connect this back to the foundation, it leads you to the notion of trust. That trust is the high value that we can place on integrity. Kiersten tells us about the importance of never compromising integrity, but serving and supporting each other in their communities and valuing the capability that they bring to the table in order to deliver on the business needs. That is what Ford thinks about trust.
Ford uses those elements to shape and inform all the work they do within HR. It essentially forms the basis of the social contract they have with their employees. So, in the context of thinking about a specific program, e.g., talent programs or recruiting relationships, the question that is always posed is: How do we ensure that we’re protecting that trust with our employees?
Concerning the question of which other initiatives are required in order to instill trust in the employee population, Robinson again reminds us of the centrality of trust, arguing that trust permeates everything they do, ranging from your year-end performance conversations to coaching conversations, etc. A question such as “do you feel like your people leader is transparent?” or “do you feel that you’re treated equitably, that you’re given a fair chance, that you trust the selection decisions?” is of utmost importance. Finally, Robinson raises the important but difficult question of how we actually measure trust. How do we really peel it back? I can say I trust you, but what exactly does it mean? Ford came up with their framework, which focuses on their definition of integrity, serving others, and competence. They built measures around each of those elements to ensure that they’re continuing to hold themselves accountable for fulfilling that commitment of trust with each other.
Discussion with Sarah Chavarria (CPO, Delta Dental)
A culture of collaboration is more important than ever in the workplace. As more work becomes automated, human teamwork is critical. It is the ultimate force multiplier and the ability to successfully engage in it across distributed work environments is more important than ever before. Health care is a great example of how collaboration can succeed
TAKING ON THE CHALLENGE AROUND THE PANDEMIC
The COVID-19 crisis has been a force of change for many. For Chavarria, 2020 started off as a challenge for her team at Delta Dental, and like many complex organizations such as her’s, the main challenge was dental offices closing, and its impact on the dental insurance market.
Chavarria and the senior leadership team at Delta Dental took on the challenge of dealing with the pandemic. She puts an emphasis on their vision statement, which is to take exceptional care of their providers, their customers, and each other.
In a crisis like a pandemic, which everyone was facing in 2020, the ability to really focus first and foremost on strong communication with their employees about the impact on them as an organization was paramount. The first thing they did was gather their technology team and facilities team and look for ways to support their employees working from home. As an essential business, Delta Dental had the ability to stay open, and Chavarria’s priority was to keep all their onsite employees safe from the unknowns that still existed in March and April of 2020.
Interestingly, Chavarria says that they have accelerated things that were probably on their roadmap two or three years out. They’ve built a cadence of transparency around what they know, what it means for them, and how they are going to work around it and do their work.
FOSTERING A DIVERSE, AGILE AND COLLABORATIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE
Diversity and inclusion is not just a program at Delta Dental, it is a business strategy, and it is tied to and fundamental to their transformation. Chavarria fundamentally believes that through employee engagement, feedback loops, and partnering with joint project teams – they were able to bring in a diverse perspective.
THE PURPOSE IN HEALTHCARE
For Chavarria, the one thing she realized, and the reason why she stayed connected to the healthcare industry despite having had some wonderful roles at Levi and Oracle, was because it is very easy to see one’s purpose in healthcare.
Chavarria believes that the ability to play a role in Delta Dental’s transformation in order to improve the broader healthcare transformation that’s underway is a very motivational and powerful task. Companies with very strong cultures do very well in engaging people around purpose, and for Chavarria, it is easy to invite people to think about a bold vision and then engage them to realize it.
According to Chavarria,
It’s still all about employee engagement. It’s about being connected to the workforce, being connected to the individuals in the workforce, and understanding from their perspective.
Chavarria believes that the pandemic has invited the world to think about ways to accelerate how we should think about the future of work and navigate through the unknown. Leaders should be able to understand what their employees are feeling and bring about better solutions, easier ways to work, and respond to the basic needs of their employees.
Organizations must discover methods to open that listening channel as part of their cultural and business transformations, and then be honest, upfront, and open about what they are willing to do as leaders.
Discussion with Aadesh Goyal (Global CHRO, TATA Communications)
Continuous learning does not just relate to hard technical skills, it is also imperative for soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence. Employees need to be supported through formal corporate initiatives in continually upgrading their soft skills.
GIVING LIFE TO CULTURE
For Aadesh Goyal, culture is about what you believe in, what you’re inspired about, and what you’re passionate about. Goyal asks the question:
But, how do you give life to it? See the life through those given by actual day-to-day incidents when relative to the whole role?
For Goyal, leaders should be able to inspire their people to give something and to create a cycle that is shared by everyone. Leaders are role models that should also be able to showcase the values and the culture that a company upholds. At Tata Communications, the leadership chooses people who display a certain trait or skill that is valued, and they are given recognition for it.
UPSKILLING AND RESKILLING
Given the world’s fantastic new technologies, what people can do in business each year has expanded enormously compared to what was conceivable just a decade ago. Goyal sees the importance and the benefits of building an intelligent and customizable platform that helps managers and employees in their journey of learning.
Tata Communications introduced a program called Tata Communications Learning Academy, where their entire workforce can easily access the platform and upskill itself with relevant courses that are continuously updated. Goyal believes that it is important to provide employees with the right tools and content in order for them to be successful and accomplish what they aspire to become. Interestingly, Goyal mentions that in their company, nobody is asking their employees to learn, but it is the employees themselves who are learning on their own.
SKILLS OF THE FUTURE
Goyal believes that while hard and technical skills will continuously need to be improved and require certain upskilling in most industries, soft skills are also increasingly becoming more important to sharpen. Whether it’s collaborating with your team or customers, or learning how to effectively communicate with your workforce, these are the skills that a machine or a robot cannot completely replicate. Another matter to consider is learning how to deal with uncertainty. How do you deal with a lot of change? The second set of skills that will become greatly important in the future are digital skills. To be able to have a grasp on these technical skills that use programs and software is something that any company can leverage in order to improve their business.
“[A] river that has no destination becomes the port.”
Goyal asks leaders the questions, “Are you a leader for yourself or for others?” and “Do you have a destination?” He believes that everyone needs to take the responsibility of doing a better job in their roles and not being too dependent on others.
Discussion with Nickle LaMoreaux (CHRO, IBM)
During the pandemic, more than 2.3 million women in the U.S. lost jobs. To address this, accountability, experience, allyship, and advocacy must be promoted as key tenets to support gender diversity.
IBM’S GLOBAL STUDY ON GENDER EQUALITY
Since February 2020, more than 2.3 million women in the U.S. were pushed out of their jobs, putting female participation in the workforce at its lowest rate since 1988. Furthermore, the tremendous shift to remote work has brought increased focus to the ongoing issues that women confront as they seek to progress their careers while juggling the second shift of family duties at home.
However, a new global IBM study found that despite the fact that C-Suite executives are well aware of the context in which their employees – particularly working mothers – work, and that new types of empathetic leadership, programs, and cultural support will be required, gender equality is still not a top-10 business priority for 70% of companies.
With fewer women holding senior vice president, vice president, director, and manager roles in 2021 vs. 2019, it is imperative that organizations not lose further ground in the effort to achieve gender equality in the workforce.
For LaMoreaux, the results of the study were pretty alarming and were pretty systemic and consistent across all of the organizations. It tells us that while there are a lot of initiatives and discussion around gender equality in the workplace, there hasn’t been any significant progress. She wants leaders and organizations to realize that diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be treated as a separate category or something that is just nice to have, but to actually make it the core of who they are as a company and how they serve their clients and develop products.
ACCOUNTABILITY, EXPERIENCE, ALLYSHIP, AND ADVOCACY
Coming from the IBM context, LaMoreaux tells us that their approach on the path to better diversity, inclusion, and equity includes four tenets.
The first is accountability, which requires organizations to be very open and transparent about their representation policies and what their top executives are responsible for improving at all levels of the organization.
Second is the employee experience, and LaMoreaux makes us aware that leaders can’t maintain or even improve that representation if they aren’t creating an experience that encourages people to continue to be motivated to work in their organizations.
Third is allyship, and in the past year, organizations have realized that as they’re grappling with social injustices around the world, allyship is extremely important at not only creating the right employee experience, but also for accountability and increasing representation. For LaMoreaux, it is important to train their employees at IBM to be an ally and be able to understand their role in being an upstander when situations arise that don’t live up to the culture they want to have.
Fourth is advocacy, and LaMoreaux believes that IBM as a corporation is not only in a unique position to shape policies for their own people, but to also have a more systemic change in the communities in which they operate. She mentions that IBM is very active with their government relations teams in advocating for policies across companies and countries, and they have recently helped support and implement the anti-hate crime bill in Georgia, U.S.A.
LaMoreaux mentions that those four key tenets are all a top-down initiative, but then there is also the initiative of creating a culture of having the right mindset and behaviors. She suggests leaders to realize something they have never done before from a mindset perspective, also saying, “[Y]ou can’t declare victory and then just sit back and think that it’s over.” This is particular when it comes to culture, but specifically, to diversity and inclusion initiatives. It is something that leaders have to reprove and return every day with their employees.
Discussion with Lucien Alziari (Executive VP & CHRO, Prudential Financial)
To foster innovation and collaboration in a values-driven workforce, companies such as Prudential are increasingly emphasizing freedom and autonomy. As long as work is done effectively, workers are granted the flexibility they need
THE NEW TECH-SAVVY AND VALUES-DRIVEN WORKFORCE
The workforce has changed over the last few years with the entry of millennials into the system, and baby boomers leaving. The business environment is constantly changing, which, in the wake of its rapid progress, has started making new demands on its stakeholders. Technology has emerged as the biggest game changer in driving not only working styles, but also how the workforce needs to innovate.
Alziari describes the three areas he has observed in his years of experience as CHRO, where the people who are coming into the workforce are now different. First, the comfort with technology that millennials grew up with is almost second nature to them, which is a positive thing for companies. Second, the new workforce is also making demands with their expectation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, which is another positive thing for Prudential. Lastly, which Alziari finds really interesting, is that the new generation looks for companies that share the same values as them and are prepared to advocate for their values on public issues and societal issues.
FOSTERING INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION WITH AUTONOMOUS TEAMS
One of the major themes in reimagining the future of work is the idea that employees need freedom in order to create, and that leaders must know how to promote that freedom while also providing them with clarity of purpose so that employees don’t stray too far from the company’s aim.
As we’ve gone through the pandemic, people have reflected on how they are treated by companies, and companies are skeptical about leaving their employees to work by themselves with no control.
Interestingly, Alziari makes us aware that at Prudential, they value giving employees the freedom and autonomy to work by providing them with flexibility as long as the work gets done. He says it’s important for leaders to recognize that there’s a whole other set of issues that people are dealing with in terms of family and health. He reminds us that people will perform in the way they are indicated and expected to perform, and offering flexibility boosts their overall performance in doing so.
When Alziari thinks about innovation over the past year at Prudential, he thinks it has probably been more innovation than they ever thought any of them were capable of doing.
According to Alziari,
If you treat people properly, they tend to outperform those who aren’t being treated properly. And, that’s why I love doing the work that I do.
Alziari says while they are not social workers but business people who have high standards of performance and outcomes. Treating their employees well is a priority that any leader should have if they want in order to achieve better outcomes for their products and services.
INVESTING IN TELENT MARKETPLACES FOR TALENT MOBILITY
Prior to Alziari joining Prudential as CHRO, the firm had already made significant investments in modern work tools and software that people require, as well as a working team focused on the future of work.
Alziari believes that the future of work is going to be much more focused on skills and experiences rather than years of experience on a resume. Prudential was one of the early users of the notion of a “skills-accelerator,” a notion that demands that companies invest in the skills of their workforce by understanding them and improving them in order to unlock their potential talents. Prudential has skill-based systems that help them understand the skills that are resident in the organization, and also an internal talent marketplace where the use of A.I. and the skills data they have derived help their employees match opportunities based on their skills.
For Alziari, investing in systems that focus on unlocking skills and providing the right opportunities for employees is a real promoter of true inclusion, transparency, and accessibility that their diverse teams have always wanted.
Technology-induced changes to the workplace are creating the need to promote new cultural values. No longer is it just sufficient to merely follow orders in a top-down corporate culture. Rather, values such as ownership, flexibility, democracy, emotional intelligence and leadership are essential.