The third area addressed at Reimagine HR was the workforce of the future.
This addressed firstly the changing preferences of employees, for example the growing demand for work life balance or at least increased flexibility rather than just compensation. People increasingly want to work on demand - putting in time when they need or want it. It’s why Uber drivers prefer this way of working to having a traditional taxi - they work when they want to, when they’ve got time and need some money. They have flexibility over their life. They don’t want to work according to a company’s time requirements, to be beholden to them and under their control.
And this is something CEB finds from everybody - not just millennials. Employers have to respond to this pull from employees.
I liked Rio Tinto Australia’s policy switch of making managers justify why flexible working would not be appropriate in a certain position rather than requiring an employee to have to make a case to ask for it.
This change should work well against a big shift in the way businesses require work to be done. (The big challenge for me will be finding a way to fit them both together.)
This is the development of spot markets for talent or the packetisation of skills in which we start to focus on skills rather than individuals and applying these skills in more discreet ways.
The change is enabled by technology and Jean gave the example of EffectiveTeams.com which can be used during a conference call to flag up the background of all participants so that everyone can help utilise the skills and insights of everybody on the call.
The shift will lead to a further increase in the contract / contingent workforce and elance.com was suggested as a model for this type of arrangement. HR has to change as well as the value it can provide shifts into spotting exactly somebody’s talent and inserting this precisely into the appropriate work streams. So I think the answer to 'are we there yet?' has to be a resounding no. HR's only just started to change and there's a long, long way to go.
Jean and Brian referred to this shift as a really liberating idea, and I agree it could be. But only if it’s used to match more closely with the changing way that people want to do their work. More likely I’m afraid will be its use to increase the control of the employer, reducing the opportunity for the employee or worker. (My recent post about zero hour contracts relates to this as well.)
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