Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a business leader from a Fortune 100 company why it took a global pandemic for companies to trust their employees when they couldn’t see them. Why did it take this tragedy to officially end the Henry Ford-era, industrial age, “command and control,” legacy of management?
“Honestly? We were lazy. We didn’t have to, so we didn’t,” he said with a big sigh.
Just in the nick of time, too, because it turns out that human workers really like being treated like people.
Although you may have heard that we won’t need those employees for much longer because robots are coming to take everyone’s jobs, that’s not exactly true.
In fact, the World Economic Forum recently said that while machines and automation will eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025, 97 million new roles will be created in their place — a net gain of 12 million jobs around the world.
Moreover, the jobs being created are ones that require skills that humans are best at, like analysis, critical thinking and connecting the dots. Think data scientists and analysts, or people who specialize in the internet of things, AI and machine learning.
At the same time, our workforce is shrinking. The New York Times recently reported that, aligning with global trends, the U.S. birth rate has dropped to the lowest rate since 1979.
We’ve been talking about the “talent war” for years, and many of us have patiently signaled that a human-centric approach is better for business. Often this has been ignored, until the pandemic when, apparently, the world woke up to this looming crisis: If you are a people-powered business intent on surviving, you must create an employee experience that allows humans to do their best work.
It’s a pretty exciting time for “we the people” people!
Finally, we’re seeing companies understand that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is the solution, not the problem. Creating a successful hybrid workplace requires that we default to inclusion and fundamentally shift our norms — whatever those are anymore.
Born of necessity, this willingness to focus on every employee’s experience is a force multiplier, and it naturally encourages inclusive cultures that attract and retain a stronger, more diverse workforce.
Making Good Intentions Real
“We need to be really intentional…”
I hear that a lot from leaders these days.
They say they must be intentional about how they approach hybrid environments, the future of work, our communications, DEI, employee experience, digital platforms and more. They must be intentional about how to do the right things.
What I hear less of is how organizations are taking action to make those good intentions a reality.
This presents another exciting opportunity for communication professionals. We have the ability not only to articulate changes in the way we work, but to influence them as well. We connect our organizations with the “end user” (the employee) and ensure that all our good intentions amount to something.
Indeed, the communication professional will play a critical role in the future of work, but like so many others, ours is changing. There may not always be a need for some of the traditional functions we think of in this field. Machines are actually becoming quite good writers!
However, the ability to think critically, identify problems and empathetic solutions, and simultaneously see both the big picture and connect the small pieces of the puzzle is becoming increasingly valuable, and rare.
We are in a moment — it’s the one communicators have been waiting for.
The number of available employees around the world may be shrinking, but we, as communication professionals, are poised to help our organizations communicate with every one of them like they’re the last.
Victoria Dew, SCMP
Victoria Dew is the CEO of Dewpoint Communications, Inc., a firm focused on helping people-powered businesses to communicate better with their employees every day. Her clients range from startups to Fortune 50 companies in a variety of industries and sectors. Dew’s global business experience includes more than 15 years of internal communications and engagement expertise. She is highly regarded as a leading employee experience and future-of-work thought leader in the communications profession, has published research on the subject and is a sought-after speaker and facilitator. Dew is a certified Strategic Communications Management Professional (SCMP) and is a Past Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Download our Insights Report, “The New Rules of Employee Experience and Communications.”