Let’s start with this: Gallop has been measuring Employee Engagement for the last 20-30 years. Last year marked the biggest single increase in Employee Engagement that they’ve ever seen. Contrast that with how work gets done. In the old world, a businesses’ overarching strategy cascaded down to team goals, which became activities. A task oriented leader would manage those activities — but you can’t micromanage through a webcam.
We’re going to see a shift where forward-thinking companies will take the strategic planning and goal setting cycle and build to outcomes all the way through. Similarly, forward-thinking leaders will actively manage to outcomes instead of activities. This means clarity on goals and outcomes is critical, but how you get to those outcomes is less so.
2. Accommodation of new behaviors
Like it or not, everyone became more tech savvy during Covid. It went from something on the horizon to the freight train rumbling through the halls. It just couldn’t be stopped. This massive digital acceleration affected both consumers and employees. With that comes an expectation of how things work now. The tools of the home office suddenly became critical, and businesses must provide them to protect productivity.
There's also a whole bunch of new consumer behaviors that companies are going to have to get used to in a hurry, and most also impact employee behaviors. Consumers have new (and different) expectations about what good looks like today. Compare an old visit to a doctor vs. today. Now you book the visit online. You text the doctor when you arrive (on-time), check your temp at the door and enter the Dr.’s office only to find an empty waiting room. Because these days you’re more like a piece of precious cargo moving through a very efficient Fed-Ex operation.
3. Re-definition of Value
Smart companies are figuring out they have to get people emotionally invested in things. It's not just a financial transaction anymore with features and speeds in exchange for dollars. In fact, Covid has, in many ways, sped up the shift toward conscious capitalism. Companies are going to really look at what value they provide.
This can no longer be counted in dollars and cents alone; it's got to be counted in terms of how they play in the ecosystem and what the stakeholders think of them.
This new definition of value is across all stakeholders, employees through to consumers. Today, companies really need to pay attention to the stories that are told about them. It used to be that “brand” was the story you told people (true or otherwise). Today, brand is how others tell your story. Today, the brand must be more holistic and stand for something beyond just what’s for sale. Smart companies will figure out to get people emotionally invested in the totality of the modern brand.
4. Learning will fundamentally change
Compared to 2019, a substantial part of the workforce (roughly 20 to 30% perhaps) will be remote moving forward. That means fewer people in the office, which means office interaction is going to change, especially for learning. While remote learning some may view it as inferior, it’s vastly cheaper, it can scale easier and move faster across an organization. Leadership programs may well become a kind of specialized in-person training reserved for high potential employees, while more generalized (cheaper, online) training can cover more people, which can contribute to the mass upskilling of an entire workforce
We think companies that are very invested in innovation will rethink what a learning culture is and does. Learning as a discipline will likely come in from the cold, as historically it’s been fairly disconnected. The CLO must then drive curiosity about learning. This leads to performance and Innovation becoming part of the culture. In this regard, CLO becomes a kind of product portfolio manager.