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Jo Taylor: "The future of work is owned by everybody not just HR"

Candidates today are not looking for a career, they’re looking for an experience, said Jo Taylor, Director of Let’s Talk Talent. Taylor is quoting Josh Bersin, HR guru and principal and founder of Bersin & Associates.

“I love that quote, because organisations today need to focus more on how to create an experience for their people, when offices are declining and the virtual workforce is growing,” she said.

In fact, never before has creating an experience, been so important, Taylor added.

“People are not necessarily building the big campuses that they used to. There’s much more technology today that enables you to work virtually. You can work anywhere really. From a cafe, from your home, in an airport. Why do you need to come in the office anymore?”

But what do these changes mean for your talent as well as leadership and collaboration, Taylor asks of businesses.

“How does that experience and this new working set-up align to the internal mission of your company? How does it make your employees feel more emotionally connected to the mission and help them to understand what it means to work for your organisation? How do you ensure that your talent, which is working remotely, remains loyal to your brand and your values? And what role do you as a business have in managing all this?”

UK businesses need to understand that they need a clear and meaningful purpose, and mandate for the decade ahead if they are to attract and retain employees, customers and partners, she said.

With companies buying more SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) systems to help support their people, they need to start thinking about how to drive that connection and ownership when the nature of HR teams is completely changing, added Taylor.

“HR teams are today becoming much more true business partners and take a much more consultative approach compared to 10 years ago when they were much more of a passive, service-oriented function,” she said.

Taylor said putting in new systems was all very well and good but organisations need to ask themselves what is going to be different in the end.

“I think a lot of people put systems in and processes in place and change the environment in an organisation because they’ve seen some great examples of that e.g Google is the most over quoted. However not every business wants to be Google nor would it be right for them. Go back to basics and ask these simple questions: But what’s going to be different at the end of it? Are you trying to drive productivity? Are you trying to drive emotional connection? Are you trying to increase retention? Once you have your answer work backwards to create it... However do not forget your people in all this change, look at ways in which you can bring them with you on the transformation journey.”

Taylor admits there is no one right answer regarding The Future of Work and its impact on talent.

“It’s more of an amalgamation of things. It’s an amalgamation of responsibility. And the responsibility is shifting to include everybody in an organisation, not just HR teams. It needs input from a lot of groups: IT, comms, marketing, operations. I think the Future of Work is owned by everybody not just HR. The thing is it starts in HR because a lot of the time it’s about leadership or culture. But if it’s only managed through HR I think we’re missing a trick. I think for it to really stick there needs to be business co-creation.”

However, HR teams can also take the lead like never before because today they have a seat at the table, she added.

“At the moment it feels like all these great individuals are having conversations about the Future of Work but it feels like a set of disparate parts where we are not really changing the underlying factors.”

Quoting Josh Bersin once more, Taylor said HR teams need to focus more on building a “simply irresistible organisation” to deal with the changes ahead. To achieve this they must focus on five key pillars both internally and externally. These are culture, working environment, systems and processes, career development, and management and leadership.

“All these pillars work in tandem and HR has a role to play across all of these. These pillars are your foundations and you need to think about what is the problem you’re trying to solve and then work back from that problem based on these five pillars. They help you check where your ‘as is’ state is as compared to your ‘to be’ state, and then help you work out who needs to be involved,” said Taylor.

Of course given jobs will be changing and how they will be changing is hard to determine makes this process slightly trickier, said Taylor.

“We also know HR needs to change and that these things will all impact on how UK businesses attract, retain and motivate their workforce.”

This is what any Future of Work project is part of a wider transformation project.

“It may be led by HR but it needs to be in conjunction with the business. You need to think about your timeline and your communications message. You need to look at the congruent story you’re trying to tell,” she said.

“And as you put a project team together, you need to think very clearly about how you communicate that change throughout the lifecycle of that project. You also need to remember that just because you have delivered a few things does not mean that the project stops. In fact things around culture and leadership are constantly evolving and so you have to make sure the project remains agile so that it can adapt should the business change direction.”

Taylor recognises that any organisation thinking about The Future of Work needs to grapple with some large concepts which are often quite nebulous.

“I think it’s about keeping it really simple and thinking of it more like a product. So what do you want people to be thinking and feeling and doing as a result of the changes that you make? Then take that a step further and ask how do you go about measuring it?”

Taylor said a lot of companies have started to think about and talk about the Future of Work and how it will impact the talent within their organisations but that nothing has really changed.

“There’s not much action. So what I’m saying is yes the workforce is changing, yes we are becoming more global, yes we are coming out of a recession, so what are we doing about it HR? I want to create a community where we don’t just talk but instead there is some action at the end of it and that we all start helping each other. Instead of paying lots of big consultancies to do this for us, we should be asking how can we do it ourselves? Because we are the ones who know our organisations and so we should be asking how to change it from the inside.”

She added: “All these are very abstract ideas, so how do we as an HR community take control of this and make a difference? I don’t think there is one answer. These are just the things that organisations and HR teams need to be thinking about more and these are the questions they need to start asking themselves, and then hopefully we can move away from the rhetoric and really start to move to action.”

To contact Jo Taylor for more information on The Future of Work and how it might affect your business call: 07860 859410.

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