How to create the best workplace on earth

| July 23, 2019

Ten years ago, Facebook was less than five years old and the first iPhone was just two years old. Experts at the time were scrambling to predict the impact of these and other technologies on our workplaces. Of course, we now take these things for granted, but we know that technology has created a need for different skills. Not just technical skills, either – but skills like collaboration, cultural diversity, design thinking, and social intelligence.

We know there are people – smart, savvy, talented people – with the skills for the future. But they are in high demand. So the question now is: Will they want to work for you? Research by XpertHR says finding high-quality talent will be the top challenge for business leaders in 2019. So how can you create the sort of workplace that will attract, reward, motivate, and inspire these people? Here are five key practices to help you future-proof your workplace.

1. Prepare for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Employer demand for AI in the workplace has more than doubled over the last three years, and (according to Dell research) the majority of leaders expect their employees and machines to work as “integrated teams” in the next few years. So, work diligently at enabling more AI in your workplace – but in a way that it assists, not replaces, your best people.

Businesses are already using AI for customer service, sales training, safety monitoring, sentiment analysis, HR functions, online training, scheduling meetings, interpreting complex documents, and more. If AI isn’t part of your workplace strategy, you’re falling behind!

2. Offer a more flexible work environment

The days of in-office, 9-to-5, Monday to Friday, work are dead – or, at least, dying.

The best people want more flexibility in how, when, and where they work. When a 2018 Robert Half survey asked Australian workers what they would be willing to accept a pay cut for, 47% wanted flexible working hours and 40% wanted to work from home sometimes.

This doesn’t mean you have to provide a free-for-all when it comes to flexibility. Just find ways to be flexible enough to accommodate a more diverse workforce – for example, people with families, partners moving for their careers, hiring global talent, using freelancers and contractors, and so on. Speaking of diversity and inclusion …

3. Embrace diversity as a strategic advantage

According to the recent DCA-Suncorp “Inclusion@Work Index 2018”, employees in diverse and inclusive teams are:

  • 9 times more likely to innovate
  • 10 times more likely to be highly effective
  • 4 times more likely to stay
  • and 19 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job

A diverse workforce is not just a “feel good” initiative – it’s a competitive advantage for future-proofing your organisation. Why? Because our world has become more complex, and the senior people don’t necessarily have the best expertise, experience, and wisdom to guide your business for future success.

4. Stand for something that matters

Offer more than a pay cheque and a clean office. The best people today want work that’s meaningful, not just menial; and in a place where they can say they feel proud to work.

Research by Cone Communications says 64% of Generation Y employees won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) values. And this is no longer just a sideline initiative, it needs to be front and centre in the organisation’s mission.

5. Leverage their talent with reverse mentoring.

With traditional mentoring, the senior, more experienced person shares their experience with more junior people to fast-track their development. Reverse mentoring turns this idea on its head: This time it’s the more junior person in the mentor role, sharing their perspective and expertise. If you’re not doing this already, engage a smart, savvy younger person to be your reverse mentor for the next three months. Listen to their insights, follow their advice, and resist the temptation to think you know better because you’re older and more experienced.

Which of these five initiatives can you implement – or enhance – in your business to build a better workplace? They aren’t easy, but the most important things rarely are. But they are essential, because you’re no longer competing only against traditional competitors for talent. You’re competing against the best workplaces on Earth.