Jeanne Meister on preparing for the future workplace

Jeanne Meister on preparing for the future workplace

Author and executive vice president of Executive Networks shares why businesses should rethink the role of the office and prioritise the health, well-being and career development of their employees

Rebecca Gibson |

What are the top priorities for businesses and employees as they continue to adapt to the new hybrid working model? 

Executive Networks’ The 2023 Future of Working and Learning Report: Shifting Employee-Employer Dynamics study shows that the four top priorities for businesses are upskilling the workforce, attracting and retaining talent, supporting employees’ well-being and mental health, and enabling new ways of working. Meanwhile, employees want more flexible work practices, better support for their mental and physical health, and training, mentorship and career development opportunities.  

Many people enjoyed the cost, productivity and other benefits of working remotely during the pandemic and are reluctant to return to the office, so how can businesses entice them back? 

Some organisations have assumed the role of the office has stayed the same and created a one-size-fits-all policy for everyone to return to the office on certain days but this is causing tension between employees and their employers. Instead, employers need to create a strategy to optimise employee’s desire for flexible work practices and the need for job performance. One way to do this is to redefine the purpose of the office and communicate by job role what types of work is best done there. In addition, enterprises should invest in technologies to make the office experience seamless and enjoyable too. For example, they could deploy software for booking desks and conference rooms, mobile applications for managing shifts, and smart lighting and thermostats to ensure people are comfortable. 

What skills will be needed for a future workplace where humans and technology will be increasingly blended?   

As organisations automate more basic tasks and processes they’ll need employees with human skills (or soft skills) to manage all other aspects of work. Some examples of these essential skills include leadership, collaboration, customer service, conflict resolution and cultural and social intelligence 

Our study indicates that upskilling will be a top priority for 41 per cent of businesses in 2023. Virtual reality training is becoming a popular way to deliver humans skills training and mentorship because it’s faster, easier, more engaging, allows learners to practice these human skills in a safe environment and is more cost-effective than traditional methods. Business are also democratising access to career development opportunities through internal talent mobility platforms. 

What policies, initiatives or technologies are businesses adopting to better support the health and well-being of their employees?   

Employers are developing well-being policies and offering perks such as access to free meditation applications or counselling sessions, gym memberships, healthy food in office cafeterias, financial wellness training, and more. A handful of businesses have implemented pay-on-demand software to enable workers to request access to a percentage of their earned wages ahead of pay day to cover cash emergencies. This benefit is very popular for frontline workers. 

In addition to making employees feel happier and healthier, these benefits will also help businesses to attract and retain talent, which will be critical to their ongoing success.  

This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription

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