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The Rise Of the Individual Employee


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At last year’s HR Technology Conference, Josh Bersin talked about the changes taking place in the modern workplace. In particular, he spoke about how employees are overwhelmed, and the answer is to design better jobs, provide more supportive management, and create better alignment between individual work and company results.

Individual employees have more influence than ever before. Some of that could be due to the role technology plays in our lives. Individuals have the ability to create powerful personal brands using social media. Add to that what’s taking place in the recruiting market – more job openings than job seekers – and this puts the individual in a strong power position.

I don’t mean that in a bad way. Employees aren’t trying to take advantage of their employers. But it does mean that organizations need to think about both individuals and teams when designing experiences, policies, and procedures. Let’s face it, organizations haven’t always updated policies and procedures to align with the modern workforce. It’s time.

HR plays a key role in this workplace transformation. HR needs to propose workplace solutions that create a value add in terms of productivity. Here are five things to consider:

  1. Strategize company culture. This is not some sort of fluffy stuff. I’m not opposed to culture mantras about the value of people. That’s important. But it’s equally important to have a clear culture that employees understand. Employees want to believe in their companies. That means believing in the company culture.
  1. Use design thinking as business thinking. There are lots of open jobs out there. Automation is changing the way we work. HR professionals should take the lead when it comes to redesigning jobs. And organizations need to support the effort.
  1. Evolve the employee life cycle. The gig economy is changing the whole nature of careers. The “hire to retire” model is going away and unretirement is emerging. Organizations need to give employees a safe environment to become self-aware and reinvent themselves.
  1. Invest in employee learning. During Bersin’s session, he said, “If employees aren’t learning on the job, then it’s not a good job.” So true! Never before have we had so many options to deliver learning experiences: webinars, podcasts, micro/macro learning, etc.
  1. Embrace team collaboration and less hierarchy. I know the title of this article is “The Rise of the Individual” but none of us operate in a silo. Part of recognizing individuals is realizing that every employee plays a role in the organizational chart. And that communication flows in all directions.

If organizations want to hire, engage, and retain employees, they need to create environments where employees can be productive – both as individuals and as an individual in a team. Theresa Amabile said it best in “The Progress Principle” when she wrote that employees will be their most engaged when at the end of the day, they can say, “I got something done today.”

P.S. Speaking of HR Tech, don’t forget that the conference is right around the corner. The event is October 1-4, 2019 at The Venetian Las Vegas. The agenda includes the pre-conference Women in Technology program. Worth the trip all by itself. And Josh Bersin will be keynoting again. HR Bartender readers can receive $300 off the cost of registration using the code HRBAR19. I look forward to seeing you there!

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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