The pandemic has accelerated an undercurrent of rediscovering ourselves with will require us to rediscover work.
We need to recognise this as such to be able to close the gap between what people need and the way companies operate in the years to come.
Companies need to think about the things that people need, and decide to go on a journey of rediscovering who we are, who your organisation is, what people really want. And then rediscover work.
Watch the video with Hello Monday Club founder Angelique Slob contemplating about this idea of the ‘undercurrent’ that needs to be addressed if organisations do not want to fail or read the transcript below.
Rediscovering ourselves, rediscovering work.
Good morning. Hello, welcome at this Hello Monday LinkedIn live episode.
I have to say it’s a quite spontaneous live stream.
Today I want to contemplate a little bit about something that I have been thinking about for the future work, and I hope to join me. If you see this live and you join us, please say hi to me in the comments and also feel free to ask a lot of questions and give us feedback because this is a nice topic. It’s called rediscovering ourselves and rediscovering work.
My name is Angelique Slob, I’m a future of Work Strategist, with a background in human resources and as organisation sociologist. And for the last 10 to 15 years I’ve been involved in new ways of working and exploring the future of work.
I am helping companies to get clarity about the next steps in the post pandemic work workplace. I think the new hybrid format that is kind of, maybe stabilising for companies is just the beginning. And this is one of the reasons I really want to get some attention for this topic.
That is not a very clear concept yet. Also in my, in my mind, I’ve been thinking about it and how we are affected.
I’ll just start on how I came to this topic this week. So I am doing some video material interviewing my young friend, 24 years old from the US. He graduated during the pandemic and took the first steps on the labour markets in this kind of like, still in lockdown between first steps post pandemic. He got to start in quite a traditional environment, he was not very feeling very well in that first year, and it has given him some insights, let me show that piece of that video. And then I will take it from there.
‘How are we going to use the technology at our disposal to do the work, but also to feel good about the work and to feel good about the life that we live that this work is part of.
No, I don’t want, I don’t want to see my work, that’s something that I go and do. Because it’s something that I have to go and make money for. And then come back to my life. You know, I want my work to fit into my life to make sense for my life. And the things that I want, you know, the things that I want to see in the world’
– Kwesi, 24 yo. USA.
So this is a short piece of a video series where we contemplate the future of work and the expectations of generation Z, and also what we think that is gonna you know, how companies can meet the expectations of generation Z, and meet them where they are, and bring them into a working environment. I think there needs to be an adaption from two sides to a generation that is exploring what they expect from companies, but they also bring their own expectations. So this is the context of that video. He said those things and I was triggered and I showed this video to a few people. And they were like, oh, you know your your friends summarising it for all of us.
We all want work that fits into our life.
What I didn’t show in this video to you guys, but in answer to this part, I’m telling him about my first working environment, it was a toxic work environment, I didn’t like the job.
I was very unhappy. I did not enjoy the work, I was not free, I needed to clock my hours. And and I was already done at four in the afternoon. So I had to wait till like five or six, till I had my eight hour shift finished.
But at that time, it was something that, it was the attitude that was taught to me by my parents and society as well. You have a permanent contract with an insurance company. It’s very good company, it’s very good employer, you have to be counting your blessings that you found this job that you have this permanent contract contract, basically was the expectation I needed to stay that till the rest of my career. Now I’m sitting here in Brazil talking to you about the future of work. So that obviously didn’t happen. But it was the attitude. And I think even though most of us have come to a place right now, and maybe it was long before pandemic, for example for me it was long before pandemic that I wanted to have my life, my work to fit around my life.
So I think it is been a development, especially in the last 10 years, enabled by technology.
But it is something that has been shifting during the pandemic for a lot of people. So when the pandemic hit, I said: ‘Well, this will mean a shift in priorities, employees will start to understand that the way they work, the place that work has in their life and the meaning of work, they will start rethinking that one way or the other. And that means that there will be a shift in the way we work, the workplace and the workforce.
So what I want to think about is that, I said to someone with whom I shared this video:
‘Well, it’s our natural state what we want, and what we need as humans’
But it seemed that my generation have unlearned that because of what society expected of us.
And how many, during one point in their career and sometimes only after pension would say, ‘Okay, I’m actually choosing me and my life, and what is important for me and what I want, what I think is important in the world. I’m going to be choosing that over, the normal stuff is in work and what for many people the normal standard was in work.
They started to leave corporate and do something else altogether, started working in education or with NGOs. So you can see that there always has been people that have been making that shift. They unlearned something.
This younger generation doesn’t really have to unlearn that because of their upbringing, they’re already come with another attitude than the older generations, when they first entered the labour markets .
They have that more natural idea about this is who I am, and this is what I expect from life, this is what they expect from work, and I expect to find an employer that can give me that.
Then we see other people like a lot of employees who’ve been working in the standardised eight to five without giving that a lot of thought. But during the pandemic, they were the ones that came to learn that they could also change, for example, their daily routines, spend more time with family, work in a different way, communicate in a different way.
I think that is a shift that has been starting. And if we do not recognise that as such, we will be overwhelmed, with hypes, media hyped things like the great resignation, the great breakup, but also less popular, less hyped, developments, such as secrets digital nomads, we see a lot of people moving into this new kind of this new kind of gaps between how companies organise themselves and what people want.
And that is leading to people designing, a growing number of freelancers, I think in the US is now 36% of the workforce is freelancer, that is expected to grow up to 50%. There’s a growing number of part timers. In the Netherlands, we have a big part time population, for for many years.
We see people looking into work where they can add value, that has a higher meaning. We want to have more flexible hours, maybe working from home, maybe we want to work from a different region, maybe move away from cities.
So there is an undercurrent of people who start to rediscover what they actually want from work and who they are. And that is also reflecting on what they expect from work and what organisations can offer them. If there is a gap, it means that people will leave the company. And we can see that in specific demographics. For example, the great break-up is about a lot of women who don’t feel that they are flexible enough to combine maybe with family time or with something else that gives them fulfilment in their life, but also lack of opportunities and lack of respect. So people are rediscovering what they need, who they are, what they need and what they want from their employer.
Of course, attracting new employees to replace those employees is going to be more difficult as well for those companies that that are looking for ways to to fulfil those needs to be more adaptive to that new rediscovered workforce. And of course, the younger generation is more critical than ever.
So I think it is extremely important to move away from operational solutions when it comes to attracting and retaining talents. For example, a lot of the solutions that people look into is like how can we improve our onboarding process, so we can retain talents, it is important to do s, it’s important to have a very, very good onboarding process, especially in a hybrid work environments.
But we have to go deeper, we have to soak in what is it actually that we as humans wants? What is it that we as workers needs? And how can we create organisations that are adapted to those needs, so we can have the people to thrive? Because an organisation is nothing more than a group of people working towards the same goal. If you can find those people or the people are not engaged, the people are not involved, people are not thriving it means that your organisation is failing.
So looking at that new question is ‘What do people actually, who are we as humans, and if we move beyond that industrial idea of resources, labour, people that are there eight hours a day, and certain times go to a certain location, selling the time and the labour, that is an outdated idea. And the sad thing is that it is the system, the paradigm that we are brought up in. And we are always using that as the perspective how we look at work.
And there is that shift going on. I’m not sure how many people here have ever felt, maybe trapped, maybe overwhelmed, stressed.
I saw a research the other day, that’s 75% of the British workers, they have what’s called the Sunday, the Sunday Scaries. So it’s another nice media hyped name, talking about how people on Sunday nights get anxious and stressed about going back to work Monday.
Actually, there is even like 75% of young generation between 18 and 25 had that experienced this to a higher extent, somebody compared it to and said like, that’s the kind of anxiety that I have if I have to deliver a speech to a large group of people. Imagine having that to go through every Sunday.
I spoke to a CEO who told me the mother of one of his younger employees who called him and said, ‘Well, my daughter is experiencing all this pressure at work’. I laughed about it with him, but at the same time, we shouldn’t be laughing about it. Because this is one example of what a whole generation of new workers is going through this experience.
If we look at people, how can we solve this? How can we go from having people adjusting to work? Consequently, at one point making choices ‘I don’t want this anymore’
I think we might be nearing a tipping point as well. Like, looking at those numbers, the demographics about people’s quitting their jobs, become freelancers, starting their own business, being half disengaged at work.
If you look at all those numbers that might be a tipping point also like the lack of the big number vacancies, that people are like companies are struggling to find talent, retain talents. New talents, they are leaving in six to eight months, which is such a costly thing. I think it’s a problem that is large enough to be addressed seriously, not just by one person or one company. And the message here today is let’s look at what we need as humans, how we are in this process of rediscovering ourselves.
So what we need as humans is joy, creativity, freedom, connection, and growth.
So these are five things that are essential for people.
With freedom, we can also use autonomy.
So I think companies should be able to connect to their employees with an attitudes to bring those elements into the workplace and people investing in people. And also go on this journey of rediscovering who we are what we want, like as people, as humans.
Coming together to go create is an amazing thing to do. Work can be, and should be an amazing experience that gives us fulfilment, that brings us growth, that gives us joy that gives us connection.
And people are craving this. And somehow the pandemic has created that shift that is below everything else, and it’s the under current.
And looking at just what my friend said, the things of he expect of work. He is summarising is for all of us.
So, now most companies are working on their people’s strategies for the next year, where people are maybe having debates, heated debates, should people come back to the office, should we force them to come to the office? Should we create different kinds of policies, should we start to look at our office space? Because we see that we are the extended our lease, but there’s no one there? Should we get rid of the office space because of that?
So there might be a lot of questions and debates, how can we attract talents, how can we meet the needs of people that were here pre-pandemic and they have this kind of like longing to go back to that older times, because they are looking for the connection that they had when they were co-located. And also looking at the needs of younger generations and new employees that bring a different kind of expectation, you might have a lot of that discussion going on.
Think about the things that people need, and decide to go on a journey of rediscovering who we are, who your organisation is, what people really want. And then rediscover work. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have to make fundamental changes. Also in the nature of work and the nature even of the business that you that you have, the business that you’re in.
Rediscovering yourselves and rediscovering ourselves means that we will be rediscovering work. And there’s a tendency that we can’t stop. And if you if you’re not on top of it, if you don’t go with the flow, if you don’t meet the tide, you will fall behind.
So I hope this was something that you can recognise maybe from your own personal experience, maybe from the people around you, I bet you do and I want to invite you to share some ideas with you with me about how that actually works for you.
What’s your journey, and also how you bring this back to your organisation. Do you see this happening on a larger scale? Do you see there are debates? And do you have some good examples and best practices of companies that are on the journey of meeting those new needs and be the scoping to work by rediscovering ourselves.
Thank you so much for your attention and wishing you a really good day today. Bye.
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash