By Rob Reiche October 2, 2018
A recent survey conducted on the future workplace (2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey) describes a vision of what the future worker expects in the workplace – findings which turn out to be radically different to today’s world.
The challenge for businesses is to find a way to transition from one to the other; from the current organisation to one envisioned by Millennials and Generation Zs (Mill/GenZ).
Whereas organisational change normally follows well understood processes, I regard this change to be so different that it requires another approach. In this proposed approach, both forms of organisation will coexist for a time while the transition takes place. For leaders it will be a little like playing a board game; not chess where the objective is to defeat an opponent through guile, but snakes and ladders to order to reach the top by avoiding impediments and taking advantage of shortcuts while throwing a dice.
So what do the Mill/GenZ workers believe in? One of the findings is that the organisation should reflect both diversity and flexibility in work without diminishing the importance of an attractive pay packet. We can speculate as to why these findings surfaced – maybe that manual work is being overtaken by technology (viz. robots) and that in the future workers will want to work with ideas and processes using technology.
So what else came out of the survey? Surprising for some businesses, I’m sure, is the fact that the new generation of workers more highly regards organisations that make an impact on society than those that focus on profit alone. I believe this to be more than “social responsibility” and points to an expectation that companies should be seen to be acting for the betterment of society as a whole.
This does not imply that companies should ignore their obligations for providing attractive financial rewards for worker contributions. In my opinion, the advent of social media has resulted in greater overall transparency, including pay and this information is driving Mill/GenZ workers’ demand for competitive pay.
Again, not unexpectedly, the recognition that “soft skills” are essential indicates that people realise that technology will continue to take over “technical” tasks and that the ability to collaborate and innovate with others will define the nature of work in the future.
All the above Mill/GenZ expectations are what I call “Ladder” practices.
In essence, the survey seems to suggest that organisations will finally have to abandon some traditional practices (habits); break down “silos” that have inflicted so much damage in the workplace e.g. destructive inter-departmental competition – “Snake” practices.
So in order to play the game, organisations will have to identify and understand the nature of Snake and Ladder practices. Thereafter it will be a case of responding to the fall of the dice. However there is a twist! What makes this game different is the ability of the organisation to systematically eliminate the snakes from the board while increasingly introducing more ladders – what I call Snakes OR Ladders!
What is critical then to succeeding in creating the Mill/GenZ workplace is a shift to Worker-centric thinking (which does not contradict Customer-centric approaches). This simply means using workers as the starting point in the organisational design.
So at a high level, establishing the Ladders will typically require a number of basic steps:
- Determine work and boundaries for individuals for desired organisational outputs
- Define boundary rules, including responsibilities and collaboration, for workers
- Create new competency profiles for individuals that include collaborative skills to operate in the new environment
- Integrate individual outputs/boundaries into redesigned business processes, identify organisational arrangements and specify the technical infrastructure needed
- Re-evaluate costs and time implications to ensure that the business model is viable
- Build the new skills in workers and create an enabling culture for collaboration.
Thereafter, it should be a relatively straight-forward exercise to define the existing Snakes.
Given some fundamental differences between the two organisations types indicated in the Deloitte’s survey, the transformation to a Mill/GenZ workplace could appear to be a daunting prospect. However, a good starting point is to understand the essential difference between the “As-is” and “To-be” states. Snakes OR Ladders then becomes a way of developing the map.
So how are you preparing for a Millennium/Generation Z world for the near future? And in your circumstance, do you think that the Snakes OR Ladders would be an appropriate game for you to play?