Eloise Gibbons

Managing Consultant

  • Digital Transformation
  • Strategy
  • Change Management
  • Communications
  • Innovation
  • Culture
  • Human Capital

03 Nov, 2021

Transforming your workplace for the 21st Century

According to the ONS (Oct 2021), the UK job market currently has over 1 million vacancies. With a heightened clamour for the best talent organisations need to take a fresh look at how they can attract, and retain, the people they need to support their business.

It’s essential for organisations to balance the expectations of their employees, with the expectations from their employees. Whilst these new expectations have come to the fore, spurred on by the pandemic, a recent report by the Institute of Public Policy indicated that this shift has long been in the making due to changes in generational and societal attitudes and trends, technology, law, and regulations.

Three foundations to underpin the modern workplace

We believe there are three key foundations all organisations need to consider when building a workplace that is fit for the 21st Century.

1. Listen and engage to build a sense of belonging

Engage and nurture individuals, let them call out problems and challenges in day-to-day activities. Prioritise employee wellness, create safe spaces, form working groups and improve and deliver more training to support collaboration, inclusivity, creativity, and innovation.

2. Articulate your cultural narrative

Be clear about your purpose and what people are there to do. Model, coach and promote the right behaviours and values to promote inclusive and diverse collaboration and innovation. Be authentic, visionary, and meaningful to keep employees engaged, continually communicating, and answering the " what's in it for me?"

3. Invest in the right technologies

Develop a robust digital workplace and operating model. Simplify your communication tools and processes to cut out the noise and ambiguity that is common in modern organisations. Use AI, automation and data analytics to optimise your business and better support your people.

Laying the right foundations for a workplace will help to build trust, resilience, and agility. A workplace that attracts and can retain the best people. The wider benefits include:

  • Smaller carbon footprint
  • Greater agility to respond to both employee and customer expectations
  • Improved productivity and innovation
  • Lower operating costs
  • Improved bottom line profit

Actionable steps to take now

The fundamentals above can take time to implement fully as part of an end-to-end transformation, However, there are pragmatic and actionable steps that any organisation can take now to start on their modernisation journey.

  • Technology to support people wherever they are

Workplace dynamics are changing with many businesses adopting a hybrid workplace giving greater employee flexibility and easing hiring shortages by sourcing talent in new locations. Technology needs to play a key role to foster a culture of collaboration, networking, creativity, and innovation in an environment of wellness, security, and comfort.

  • Track and manage safety and wellbeing

Workplace policies and procedures apply for all workers irrespective of their location. Leaders and managers need to understand how to monitor remote employee’s wellbeing. Data analytics and automated workspaces, combined with training and access to support tools and resources, can help to ensure a continuous, positive working experience devoid of stress and anxiety.

  • Consider a blended workforce

Human and machine workplaces are set to become more commonplace. Machines are becoming smarter as more routine tasks are automated, but lack the ability to listen, empathise, and relate to people. Inclusive interpersonal skills should be prioritised as companies need to identify leaders who can build diverse and collaborative teams that integrate and optimise both people and machine.

  • Empowering personal growth for future leaders

To develop the leaders of tomorrow, organisations need to reskill and upskill their employees throughout their working lives to keep up with societal changes and technology advances to drive new innovations and increased productivity. Interpersonal skills need to be prioritised in the workplaces of the future to build trust and connect on a personal level.

  • Foster belonging

Successful organisations have a culture which encourages a sense of community and celebrates inclusive and diverse collaboration, problem-solving and innovation. The early days of the pandemic reminded us that people are not machines . Lockdown highlighted the need to prioritise wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. Prioritising employee experience improves productivity and motivation enhancing customer experience and directly contributing to your bottom line.

  • Embed ethical leaders

Increasingly employees, customers, and shareholders expect corporate leaders to take a stand on societal issues. Authentic initiatives such as B Corporation, enacting fair trade policies, and incorporating sustainability should be a key element of an organisation’s strategic goals and values.

The workplace of the 21st century continues to evolve. It’s more connected than ever yet its workforce is more remote than ever before. Organisations need to be able to balance the flexibility and needs of their teams with productivity and motivation attract and retain the talent they need.

There are multiple lenses that leaders need to view and deliver the workplace for the 21st Century and it’s clear that it isn’t a one size fits all approach. At Chaucer we have a tried and tested approach to help transform your 21st Century workplace. Please get in touch if you'd like to learn more. 

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