Blended Workforce Strategy© – Is it the future of work?

It is said that change is the only constant and if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything it is that – acceptance, adaptation, and moving on are the only ways to stay resilient and grow your business.

Nearly two years of ever-changing safety protocols have forced many businesses to change their working style. While location flexibility – the hybrid working pattern – was initially difficult to accept, over time many leaders realized that the only way to withstand constant change is by staying flexible.

The rise of the pandemic has caused the employed to reconsider their relationship with work, and, management to think about business continuation in the face of talent shortages and business losses. While there is rich conversation happening about the benefits and pitfalls of a full work-from-home model, reopening offices, and hybrid work models, these conversations are still largely about the place of work strategy not about workforce strategy.

What is a Blended Workforce Strategy©?
The way we define Blended Workforce Strategy (BWS), is one where the workforce is a blend of different types of domain experts who have varied work contracts with the organization. This type of structure includes permanent full-time, part-time, permanent shared, turnkey freelancers, and outsourced employees working as a single collaborative workforce. This kind of setup works in favor of both, employers as well as employees, as both reap the surplus benefits of this structure.

What are the benefits of a Blended Workforce Strategy© set up?
Flexible and agile workforce: A glimpse into the traditional talent acquisition practices helps us understand that organizations would often have to recruit experts for a full-time position even if the expertise was not required full-time. The implementation of a blended workforce means that your organization no longer relies on one talent acquisition process. Having a flexible approach toward hiring will increase your chances of discovering highly skilled talent at a more reasonable cost. It also provides the agility needed to adapt workforce skills to keep up with the pace of business change.
Do away with skill gaps: One of the key takeaways from this setup is an agile workforce that lets employers bring onboard experts needed to speed up work and help them reach their targets, or focus on those prime projects to give them a competitive advantage. This way businesses always have access to top industry experts on demand.
Specialized and advanced skillset: Some advanced skill sets are expensive to hire permanently. Besides, the need for these non-core skills change based on business strategy and stage of growth. With a blended workforce strategy, full-time permanent employment is no longer required for advanced or super-specialized skills. Hence, organizations can recruit special or advanced skillsets on a retainership basis until they attain the stability they seek.
Fixed goals and clear communication: By its very nature, a blended workforce setup requires fixed goals and clear channels of communication. This generates efficiency and speeds up progress enabling companies to create high impact and high output.
Talent inclusion: Traditional workforce strategies have little room for flexible and agile hiring. Companies lose out on expertise simply because they have no strategy that caters to experts who are either challenged by, or, have made a conscious choice based on their stage in life needs. Hiring through AI-powered talent marketplace platforms provides the much-needed access and support required to implement a Blended Workforce Strategy effectively.
creative estimation of how a blended Workforce gets distributed

Where do you start to create a Blended Workforce Strategy©?
The BWS is about building businesses that are resilient, stay relevant and competitive. So, we start with the business strategy and build a workforce strategy around it. What matters most for HR and business leaders is to use a structured process to peel the layers of job roles, tasks and activities while creating a blueprint for execution. The 6-step process created by ICube is a simple model to work with. Intuitively, a 70:30 ratio of core to non-core workforce should anchor this strategy. However, some industries have higher ratios of 60:40 and 80:20 depending on the type of skills and stage of growth.

6 Steps To Create And Implement A Blended Workforce Plan
Is Blended Workforce Strategy the future for businesses?
As we settle into a new workforce era wherein companies take a more flexible approach to employment, BWS has dual advantages. For one, it helps companies reach their set goals by hiring advanced skillsets based on needs and stage of business growth, as well as overcoming the talent shortage and cost challenges. Secondly, it supports employees ride through their stage of life challenges, promoting well-being, and productivity. Furthermore, it is no secret that the increased use of technology has shifted focus from administrative skills to cognitive and creative problem-solving skills. McKinsey Global Institute recently reported that by 2025, “online talent platforms could increase global GDP by $2.7 trillion and improve job outcomes for 540 million people.” (Cite here)

The pandemic has led businesses to discover what is important for them to stay resilient. What comes up on top is adaptability, adoption of technology, and the appropriate deployment of people skills and experience.

Some part of this blog was published as Blended Workforce – Changing Mindset in Asia Pacific in ecosystem360, Dec 2020.


8 Overlooked Employee Benefits That Could Make All the Difference

Your company’s employee benefits likely need a makeover. As new generations enter the workforce, the needs of your employees change. If you want to boost employee retention in the coming years, you must focus on what you offer your team — and benefits play a huge part.

Are you wondering what employee benefits make sense in the new world of work? Learn about the benefits employees are craving now.

Why you need unique benefits
While benefits like paid time off and health insurance are essential, they don’t help you stand out as almost every company offers employees health insurance and 401(k) access. Rising above the competition means offering something unique that makes your business shine as a great place to work. The companies who stand out today go above and beyond to provide benefits that their teams will enjoy.

Benefits and the current job market
According to a recent report by Hypercontext, 52% of employees cited competitive salaries and benefits as a factor of engagement. When an employee decides between job offers, benefits and compensation will likely significantly impact the job chosen.

Employees are switching jobs for better salaries and benefits in the current job market. If your organization wants to keep up, you need to look at what you offer employees.


8 unique benefits that can help your organization stand out
Benefits don’t have to be boring or typical. Companies offering stellar benefits can attract top talent and stand out in the job market. Here are the top new benefits your organization should consider offering:

  1. Paid sabbaticals
    Paid time off is an essential benefit for companies to offer, but often employees have a limit (i.e. 10 days), and it can be hard to take those days all at once. As a result, employees feel the need to spread their breaks out over the entire year. At most, an employee might take 5 days off in a row.

Paid sabbaticals are an employee benefit you can offer tenured employees to get the rest they need. For example, you might provide a month-long sabbatical for every 5 years of service to your organization. A sabbatical is challenging to prepare for, but it will ultimately help your employees reset and reimagine their time at your company.

  1. Holiday savings programs
    Did you know that 36% of Americans took on debt during the 2021 holiday season? It’s common for people to spend more than what’s in their bank account in order to get the perfect gift, especially those with young kids. Debt can set anyone back and make the first months of the year hard to manage.

You can help with this financial challenge by offering a holiday savings plan as an organization. For example, if the average holiday debt is $1,249, saving $105 per month is likely far more manageable for most employees.

  1. Student loan repayments
    While student loans have paused during the pandemic, the break will not last forever. Soon Americans will once again face the $1.75 trillion in student loan debt they collectively owe. The numbers are astronomical and profoundly impact Americans who pursued a degree in order to have better job prospects. If you are searching for an overlooked benefit that will change the trajectory of your employees’ lives, try student loan repayments.

Similarly, another employee benefit you could offer is tuition assistance for employees who need continuing education.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve
Answer to see the results

Simplify benefits administration

Automate payroll

Improve our virtual onboarding experience

Streamline HR processes

Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks

Any of the above

  1. Homebuying assistance
    If you’ve been keeping up with the housing market, you know that buying a house is more challenging than ever. There are many hoops to jump through, and the prices are astounding. Companies who want to offer an overlooked employee benefit might opt for helping their employees buy a home.

Here are some of the home buying assistance benefits you can offer your staff members:

Paying moving fees
Downpayment assistance
Helping with mortgage payments

  1. Family planning
    Starting a family can be stressful, particularly for anyone who has a difficult time or faces fertility challenges. Families positively impact your employees, so supporting new additions is a no-brainer. Family planning comes in many forms. Offering benefits like infertility treatments, egg freezing, and adoption assistance will absolutely help your organization stand out.
  2. Caregiving services
    Caregiving impacts about 1 in 4 American adults. Pre-pandemic, it was easy for companies to ignore the impact of caregiving, but that all changed when employees began working from home more. Employers had to face that employees had a real life and that included unexpected guests who would occasionally show up on the screen. Your employees may be dealing with aging parents or kids who need special attention. Caregiving can often feel overwhelming, and often there aren’t enough resources available. Companies can help by providing employee benefits related to caregiving, such as:

Stipends for home health aides
Mental health services to deal with the toll of caregiving
Unpaid and paid leave outside the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act

  1. End-of-life planning
    Life is sometimes shorter than we hope it will be. While planning for what happens after you pass can feel overwhelming, it’s crucial. Your employees have to protect their families. This discussion doesn’t have to be stressful. Work with your employees to help them push through the pain to create a stable life for their loved ones. Offering benefits like life insurance, estate planning, and covering funeral expenses are great options for employers.
  2. Flexible benefits spending
    Another unique way to give out benefits is by moving towards a flexible benefits spending model. In a survey conducted by Rogers Gray, 40% of employees shared their loyalty would increase if their benefits were customizable.

There are some negatives to this, mainly in losing the group discounts you get for some benefits. Nevertheless, some companies are embracing flexible benefits in order to create a better employee environment.

With this model, you can decide to give out a monthly or yearly stipend to all employees to use how they see fit. They might want to use it on insurance, paying back student loans, saving for their house, etc. Running a program like this will take more HR intervention, but it will create a personalized experience for workers.

Invest in unique employee benefits your team will love
Investing in the best employee benefits will do wonders for your organization. It isn’t always easy to understand what benefits your employees will resonate with. Be willing to experiment until you find those with a high adoption rate. As you integrate new benefits into your compensation structure, don’t forget to put them on your team’s radar as you want to give every new option an equal chance to succeed at your organization. Before you know it, you’ll be claiming your title as a top place to work.


How to Improve Your Wellbeing With Focus

People that lead with Focus can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. We like to think of this individual as someone that prioritizes, and then they act.
Jaclynn Robinson,
If … [you have Focus and] you’re leading a team, … you can help employees find clarity in the work they’re doing by really helping them delegate, eliminate or, what I’ll say, elevate certain tasks based on priority.
Jaclynn Robinson,
Jim Collison
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast, we’ll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode.

Jim Collison
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast, we’ll look at the Strengths Insight and Action Planning items from Appendix 1 in the Gallup book Wellbeing at Work one theme at a time, and today’s theme is Focus. If you’re listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room — just a link right above me there. Or if it’s after the fact, and you’re listening in the podcast, you can send us an email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Gallup Learning and Development Consultant and is the primary contributor to Appendix 1 in Wellbeing at Work. Jaclynn, it’s great to see you, and welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson
Thank you, sir. It’s good to be here.

What’s the definition of Focus?
Jim Collison
Good to have you. We are talking about Focus, which I have none of, so why don’t you tell me what I don’t have any of?

Jaclynn Robinson ]
Indeed. So we know that people that lead with Focus can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. We like to think of this individual as someone that prioritizes, and then they act.

Jim Collison
Yeah, there — I have a lot of envy around this one. I wish I had more of it, and I use it in others. Let’s talk a little bit about How does it relate to you and how does it relate to others?

Jaclynn Robinson
If I think about how this relates to you, if you lead with Focus, you likely find it quite enjoyable to be able to set goals for yourself, prioritization and creating milestones to then achieve those goals helps you achieve them. How it relates to others — others can depend on you to keep everyone moving in the right direction. So when the path seems unclear — we’ve witnessed a lot of that in the last couple of years — you might bring clarity by asking, “Hey, what’s the outcome that we’re trying to achieve here? Or what’s the goal that we’re trying to achieve?” And you can quickly bring everyone back into that — the right direction or on the right path.

How does Focus look when it’s thriving vs. struggling?
Jim Collison
Super helpful from that standpoint. We’re talking this season a lot about wellbeing. And so we spend some time, you know, thinking about Focus in terms of thriving versus struggling. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jaclynn Robinson
Yes. So someone thriving with Focus is when they have personal and professional goals in mind and can create stepping-stones to bring them to fruition for themselves or the team. And then almost alternatively, or on the other end of the spectrum, this person can really find it difficult to operate in unknown circumstances, or when the end goal is unclear or being established along the way, that can make it very difficult to set priorities and action plan. I would say that they also might struggle in an environment where distractions are prevalent or present, which could disrupt their thought process or workflow. It’s more or less dependent on that person with Focus. Some will say, “Hey, that’s white noise; I can block it out.” And others say, “No, even hearing, you know, just a little bit of chatter in the office can be distracting — or having my kids run around while I’m trying to work.”

Jim Collison
Yeah, during the last couple of years, it’s been a tale of two cities. I think some folks who had high Focus in the office came home and lost it or got even more of it. Right? They got away from the office chatter, so to speak, or the distractions that were in the office, right, and they were able to, it was better for them. And so I think it wasn’t, it wasn’t the same for everybody, right, as we think about that. We have some best practices in the back. In Appendix 1, we kind of break each theme down, and for each of the 5 elements — pillars, I like to call them — of wellbeing, we have one of those and some examples. Maybe Focus — you’re struggling with your wellbeing for Focus, it’d be a good, a good place to go. But Jaclynn, work us through — which one of those did you pick for Focus?

Jaclynn Robinson
I chose social wellbeing this time around. Yeah! I feel like we’ll, we hone in and we’ll touch on career a lot this evening. But with social wellbeing, this person can oftentimes become so fixated on personal or professional goals that they lose sight of their relationships. So coaching them to pay attention to who they are with in the moment can be really helpful. Just redirecting that Focus and being with that person — focusing on the person — using Focus in a different way.

Jim Collison
Yeah, well, I have so little of it. And when somebody actually does that for me, like it is, I, it’s, it’s, it draws me in. You know, Maika used to say that a strong, strong teams are a magnet for talent. And I think an individual who has Focus and can really kind of hone in on you in a conversation is very attractive, I think, for some people. In other words, because we just, we lack so much of it in, in social circles. Everyone’s distracted, seemingly, checking their phone or, right, texts coming in or whatever, whatever we’re trying to do. So I think, man I love that thought that in these areas of social wellbeing, both for the individual, right, and even for then giving back — the “we” version of this, right, that we always talk about — the “me” and the “we” of someone with Focus, thinking of “we” — how could I really put attention on, I don’t know, you want to add anything to that?

Jaclynn Robinson
No, I think that’s spot on. And those with Focus, probably know, I know I’ll be guilty of this too is, you know, you just get immersed in something and it’s really hard to want to pull yourself away from it because you just want to finish that one target goal that you’ve set for yourself or that one task. So when you can just take a step back and find enough of the stopping point to just immerse yourself with that person, it just, it really does end up feeding you and those relationships.

For those with Focus, how can it be used to support others?
Jim Collison
Yeah, yeah, I love that. We have 4 other — the other 4 elements are there in the back of the book Wellbeing at Work in Appendix 1. I, great coaching tool for individuals as you’re working through. You can just open to that as we’re thinking about theme and theme development and work them through with that. Jaclynn, so for those with Focus, how can it be used to support others? Because I think — we alluded to this just a second ago, but — what other else in this construct that we have? How can it be used to support others?

Jaclynn Robinson
Well, if you’re a manager, you’re leading a team, with a natural talent for prioritization and goal setting, you can help employees find clarity in the work they’re doing by, you know, really helping them delegate, eliminate or, what I’ll say, elevate certain tasks based on priority. Additionally, you can help them shape their personal and professional goals during those performance conversations. Some might already know where they’re going, and some might really need some assistance. And that’s where you can really come in.

Jaclynn Robinson
If you’re on a team, when the team feels a bit confused or directionless, you can really help them refocus. Questions you might ask are, you know, “What are our top priorities and what isn’t that we can just kind of let, let fall to the wayside a little bit or push down our list?” And then, “What obstacle or miscommunication has sidelined the team? What’s the best course of action to stay on the path?” So you can help them find clarity by asking some of those questions and helping them sort.

Jaclynn Robinson
As an individual, when you are clear on your goals and responsibilities that you hold day to day, and they’re all in alignment, that’s when you tend to feel like you’re on fire and you feel great. If that road becomes unclear, I would say remember to carve out time in the day or the week, or to look at your list to see what you need to sort through that needs to be moved or prioritized. Because sometimes if you’re just too caught up in the day to day, and you don’t have that time and space to just step back and say, “Wait, how have my priorities shifted?” That can create some, some anxiety or a little bit of discontent.

Jim Collison
There’s a, you mentioned, we mentioned this kind of a little bit earlier, as we think about Focus in teams. And I said I was gonna watch chat. But Lisa had asked this question about agility. And I think it’s good to add in because, you know, we’ve moved, a lot of teams have moved to this agile methodology. And, and, you know, pivoting fast, failing early, those kinds of things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of Focus, right? I mean, as we think about agility, making a decision to change and then focusing in on it — as we think about how it can be used to support others — in, sometimes I think in those agile circles, we just think it means craziness. Like “Everybody does what they want, because we’re agile.” And I think it’s actually the exact opposite. When the team makes a decision to pivot, everybody pivots together at the same time, doing the same thing. And I think someone with Focus can bring that clarity, right.

Jim Collison
We used to talk about this in Theme Thursday about sorting. And so folks with Focus can sort to the priority and then keep individuals or keep a team or keep a manager on task. I mean, I’m not saying that managers don’t always stay on task, but they don’t always stay on task, right. And so I think someone with Focus can, can help out in that way. Anything else you’d add to that?

Jaclynn Robinson
No, I think, I think that’s, that’s true, too. If there’s a goal or an intention in mind of why that change is being created, someone with Focus can — they have the flexibility to go with the obstacles and stay on track. It’s just, what’s the outcome we’re trying to achieve? Or what’s the North Star so that I can make sure we’re, we’re continuously walking that path, even if we have to go down this walkway instead of this walkway.

Jim Collison
Yeah, yeah. No, I love it. In Appendix 2, we have a framework that we’re working through some, just a simple framework. Again, coaches, I’d encourage you to grab that framework as you’re spending time coaching individuals. It’s a great one to work us through. With Focus, work us through that framework, Jaclynn.

Jaclynn Robinson
Yeah. So, if you are looking at the back of the appendix, I selected from career and financial for these two, so, or for these three. So for Ask Yourself: What goals will I achieve today? Makes sense with Focus — something that’s gonna be on their mind. Ask Your Team Members: How can we support each other in our pursuit of our financial goals? So for this one, I will just kind of create a caveat here. Some of you probably have some, some great friends at work. And, you know, someone is about to celebrate an upcoming wedding or someone’s about to celebrate a child or they want to buy a home. And so just knowing that naturally about each other, with your Focus, you can really help them stay on course and then celebrate when it comes to seeing those achievements come to fruition.

Jaclynn Robinson
So that is the best-practice piece too is once, you know, everyone has or, you know, as you’re going along, folks have achieved their financial achievements, celebrate with each other. Celebrate with the baby shower or celebrate with a housewarming once that goal has been seen. There’s ways that we can make financial wellbeing fun and a little more carefree than — sometimes we think that it’s really stodgy or cold, and we shouldn’t talk about it.

Jim Collison
Tax time here in the United States. And I always fret that. What you’re saying to me is I need to have a party after I do my taxes, right?

Jaclynn Robinson
Find the person with Focus that will make sure you do it — do your taxes and file on time and —

Jim Collison
I know, I know. Or borrow that from some friends or, you know, figure out a way to get it done. I love — listen, I love that you kind of highlight — oftentimes, I think, and especially with Focus, I think people see this who have it as a burden, right? They have been beaten down by non-Focused people in the past. Like, “Oh, don’t be so rigid!” Right? Or “Don’t be so controlling,” right? They don’t want to be kept on task. And, and I, listen, I think we, in groups, in our circles, we need those. It’s a superpower I covet. I mean, I just, when I find that in someone — Ryan Wolf is, who’s been on the program before, he’s my Discipline-Focus guy. And I just, I just love it. So it’s a great opportunity. Any last thoughts on this, Jaclynn, before we wrap it?

Jim Collison 11:19
No. That’s all for me over here.

Jim Collison
All right.

Jaclynn Robinson
What a time to use it. What a time to lean into it, when people are looking for direction and where are we heading into 2022?

Jim Collison
There’s always times to use it. That’s the great thing about these 34. There’s always, right, there’s always opportunities. And I think, you know, it just, I think, let me encourage, just because all these themes have a way of being beaten down by others. And I think we just, we need to find positive ways to reinforce them. Your key of recognition — I just got done teaching some students a leadership seminar last week. We talked a little bit about using recognition on teams as an accelerant for, for team growth. And I just, I think, especially on this one, we see Focus in the wild. Let’s celebrate it, because I think it’s, I think it’s pretty great.


A Pricing Paradox: We Want Digital but Will Pay More for Analog

Between 2014 and 2018, global spending on DVDs and Blu-ray discs dropped nearly 50%, from $25 billion to $13 billion. Over the same period, spending on digital home entertainment grew by 160%.

And yet, even today, most Blu-rays cost more than the purchase of a digital movie.

“This is really irrational,” says Rhia Catapanoopen in new window, a former doctoral student at Stanford Graduate School of Business who’s now an assistant professor at the Rotman School of Management. “If we prefer a digital movie over a physical movie, then wouldn’t we spend more on it?”

Catapano explores this incongruity in a paper recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research. Together with Stanford GSB professor of marketing Jonathan Levav and Fuad Shennib, a Stanford GSB student who passed away in May 2020, she finds that people express an almost universal willingness to pay more for physical products. Yet simultaneously, they almost unanimously say they would prefer to own the digital version of the same product.

The researchers used 10 experiments to explore the extent of these “preference reversals.” In each case, one group of participants was asked the maximum price they would pay for a physical version and a digital version of a particular good; another group was asked which of the two they would like to own. The results showed that people are willing to pay more for physical goods but prefer digital goods not only when it comes to movies but also books, newspapers, video games, music, photographs, and even in-person versus online classes.

“More than any particular experiment, the sheer number of results is worth highlighting,” Catapano says. “We find this same shift in preferences across so many different categories.”

How Much for That Skimble?
This pattern held even when people were asked about a fictitious product called a “skimble.” Study participants were told that a skimble was estimated to cost between $5 and $100; they were told nothing about its manufacturer or its size, weight, or function. Nonetheless, 90% said they were willing to pay more for a physical skimble and 93% said they would prefer to own a digital skimble.

You strip everything else away and remove all associations, and people still think digital is more convenient and physical should cost more. It goes to show how deeply ingrained this idea is.
Rhia Catapano
“You strip everything else away and remove all associations, and people still think digital is more convenient and physical should cost more,” says Catapano. “It goes to show how deeply ingrained this idea is.”

These results rest on a psychological process known as contingent weighting: When people are asked how much they are willing to pay for something, they consider quantitative measures such as how much they are accustomed to paying for it; they relate this decision to what they know about prices in the market. When people are asked which product they would like to own, they consider qualitative measures and dwell on the products’ most important attributes. Because convenience often ranks highly and digital goods tend to be more convenient, people are inclined toward digital goods.

“On the face of it, people assume that the differentiation between digital and physical goods is vertical: One is heavy and the other light,” Levav says. “What we find is that this differentiation is horizontal, which is to say these products serve a fundamentally different set of needs. That may seem pretty straightforward, but behavioral research is often obvious in retrospect.”

Version Control
The results suggest that consumers trying to choose between digital and physical goods should take time to think carefully about what they want out of the purchase rather than being swayed toward one choice based on price. “We should think about what brings us value,” Catapano says. “We’re often hesitant to spend more on a digital good when, in fact, that is what we want.”

Meanwhile, Levav says, companies should rethink longstanding marketing practices that try to convince consumers that physical and digital goods are essentially identical. Rather, he says, companies should emphasize the specific traits that make digital goods valuable compared to their physical formats.

“We live in a world where we’re starting to see more and more interchangeability between physical and digital versions of goods,” Levav says. “We need to explore how these things are different in an essential way. Each one derives value from a totally different set of attributes. Companies that want to influence consumer perceptions of value need to know which attributes to focus on depending on what version of a product or experience they’re giving to people.”


Is Your RTO Policy Threatening Employee Engagement?

Many people have begun to adopt return to office or RTO policies as Americans hope the pandemic turns to an endemic. However, even though some people feel like they need to get back into the world, there are many others who have grown accustomed to work from home (WFH) policies and do not want to see them change.

REPORT: Employee Engagement and Experience for the Post-COVID 19 World

The insistence on the part of leadership to conduct work in person is damaging employee engagement and experience plans, which have been paramount for HR leaders during a historic labor shortage and record attrition. The raging debate has surfaced on social media, at water coolers, and beyond. Recent headlines demonstrate the problem.

RTO Policies Backfire
Some Apple employees have expressed disdain for having to return to the office. Computerworld reported that Apple employees organized and wrote an open letter to Apple executives asking for the company to change its RTO policy, which stipulates that employees must be in the office at least three days per week. Other publications are also sharing that the company’s head of machine learning quit in protest of RTO, too.

WATCH: HR Trends: HREN Editor Answers Your Questions

As WarnerMedia merges with Warner Bros. Discovery, the two cultures are clashing. Leadership from Warner Bros. Discovery is demanding all employees, from both groups, work in the office three days a week starting in June and should ease into it by coming in for two days per week in May. The WarnerMedia workers feel it is an affront, according to Deadline.

WATCH: Establishing a Process Framework to Enable Your RTO Plans

Anyone following Wall Street bankers knows that young staffers have expressed ire about having to return to the office, even if they are getting fat paychecks. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has been vocal about his beliefs. He is insisting that people who want to develop their careers need to be in the office around other people.

More than 70% of respondents to an Associated Press-NORC poll said they are only working in person. In addition, more than 40% of those who have returned to the office say the amount of stress they experience has worsened.

Why WFH?
Workers have many reasons for wanting to work from home. One is definitely the additional pressure of being in an office. But some also still fear COVID-19, especially as another surge might be approaching, according to epidemiologists. Those who have comorbidities or live and care for those with vulnerabilities still feel like staying in indoor spaces with others for long periods of time is dangerous.

WATCH: PANEL – Getting the Balance Right: Remote Working and Flexibility

Also, the economy has changed since the pandemic first began. Now, U.S. inflation is at a record high and gas prices are elevated. As a result, some employees can not afford the gas or lunch if they have to start commuting again. That’s another thing. Many people simply do not want to commute, and they argue that by eliminating those hours in traffic, they can actually accomplish more work for their employers.

Finally, women were driven out of the workforce at the start of the pandemic. Remote work is conducive to women, who are often caring either for their young children or elderly parents and relatives. Having a remote option is a way to win them back. Diversity experts have pointed out that more women of color tend to care for other relatives and therefore prefer remote work, which means having the option should be key to creating an effective DEI plan for the times.

Which Side Will Win?
There is a real battle between leadership and employees when it comes to return to office policies. Unfortunately, HR professionals end up in a tight spot. Many have seen hybrid as the compromise to solve the problem. But many workers do not agree. As a result, there is a bit of a stalemate.

On the one hand, the Great Resignation lives on. April saw another record for people quitting their jobs. Employees certainly have leverage, especially in service industries facing a historic labor shortage. Employee engagement and experience efforts are the key to improving retention. On the other hand, the boss is still the boss. If she wants employees back in the office, HR has to toe the line. That’s fine. But HR leaders must remind the boss in those instances that employees just might walk away.


Mature workforce – a team of domain experts, a talent pool!

Why should we hire mature, seasoned experts?
Hiring managers are often torn between hiring for domain knowledge, work skills relevant to the current era, and sheer experience. Experience counts in almost all facets of the professional dimension. While younger employees already have the upper hand in networking, face timing, and handling tech gadgets, but, what about in-depth knowledge derived from business experience?

Does age matter when you need domain expertise to run your business?
Age-related attitudes are a significant challenge in today’s workplace, largely influenced by skills, new age thinking, technology savviness, the pace at which businesses run, and the need for work opportunities across the age spectrum.

Our experience, and findings from our readings, have led us to understand that balancing age, work skills, and experience will be inevitable in work places of the future.
According to the United Nations’ World Population Prospects 2019, by 2050 one in six persons will be over the age of 65 – up from one in eleven in 2019. This longevity shift affects all societies globally, while some at an early stage, others at an advanced level.

Asia and Europe have some of the world’s oldest populations, with people aged 65 and older. Japan takes the lead with 28 percent, followed by Italy with 23 percent. At slightly under 22%, Finland, Portugal, and Greece round out the top five.

China’s population comprises 12% of people aged 65 and up. In the United States it is 16 percent, 6% in India, and 3% in Nigeria. (Sources: United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects 2019)

According to Standard & Poor’s (S&P), by 2050 the number of elderly persons in the Saudi Arabian population overall, will rise to 15% from 3% currently.

So, what all this leads to is that traditional forms of retiring employees is a luxury that no society can afford any longer. Besides, science has proved that knowledge and skill (as obtained on the job, which are also the key indicators to any job performance) can continue to improve even at the age of 80.

Hence the question is – is it really wise to ignore the contribution of a valuable resource as the mature expert?

What’s our take?
As is our experience in our business, in today’s management parlance mature experts refers to the 45+ age group. Typically, a 45-year-old with management qualifications would have 20 years of domain experience. The majority of the mature domain management professionals on our own platform are under 60. People are retiring at the age of 50, either by compulsion or by choice.

According to the data above, certain countries are rapidly aging, while others are decades away from a similar fate. As a result, certain countries like Japan or Italy are experiencing a labor shortage, and others like Vietnam or HK are thirsting for the wisdom of experience. This imbalance is a business opportunity to explore flexible ways to engage the global workforce.


Beamery Acquires Flux: A New Type Of Talent Marketplace

he Talent Marketplace space is red hot. Driven by the hot job market, companies are snatching up tools to improve internal mobility and the Talent Marketplace segment has become essential.

This space, pioneered by vendors like Gloat and Fuel50, was designed to use AI and skills inference to help employees find internal jobs, roles, projects, and mentors. These platforms work exceedingly well (I haven’t talked with a single company that didn’t find success here) so vendors like Eightfold, Workday, Oracle, PeopleFluent, Hitch, and SuccessFactors have all jumped in.

The leading vendors (Gloat is the leader at this point) have intelligent platforms that can import employee profiles, identify skills from experience and resumes, and instantly recommend new positions, projects, and mentors. They then go further and create a company-wide skills taxonomy that can be used for internal development, skills assessment, and eventually workforce planning.

Initially designed to create “Inner Mobility” (Gloat’s original name) or “Career Paths” (Fuel50’s pioneering), these are now all-in-one employee experience platforms that pinpoint learning, help recruiters head-hunt internal staff, and help managers staff teams. Companies like Schneider Electric use these platforms to help managers “staff and organize teams” and even let employees find mentors, create career plans, and plan their personal development.

In other words, the Talent Marketplace platforms are eating everything around them. They’re starting to look like Learning Platforms, Recruiting Platforms, Talent Intelligence Platforms, and more.

And this is all good stuff. Right now companies find it difficult to identify the skills they have, the skills they need, and the location and fit of job candidates for open and new positions. The Talent Marketplace, once actively used, has the potential to help with all these issues. Hence the reason big vendors like Workday, Eightfold, and Oracle are in this space.

Enter Beamery, a company well known for the Candidate Relationship Marketing (CRM) platform.

Beamery is a pretty cool company. The first time I saw it I was more or less blown away. Similar to Eightfold, Beamery is a “data platform” not simply a software system. The company imports tens of millions of employee profiles and indexes them to find job candidates, fit people to new roles, and create high-powered recruitment marketing programs. And it also does things like identify who is in your existing candidate database so you can find “silver medal” candidates as hiring gets tough.

Beamery has been very successful. Workday Ventures and Accenture Ventures are investors and many big companies (Wells Fargo for example) use Beamery for their sourcing, campus, talent attraction, and candidate marketing processes. And this is now very strategic. Our new research The Definitive Guide to Talent Acquisition discovered that brand reach and candidate marketing is now the #1 factor in attracting job seekers, so Beamery is an important system.

So what’s new? Beamery just acquired an exciting company called Flux (most of you don’t know them) which has been building a groundbreaking new talent mobility system. The combination of Flux’s platform with Beamery makes the company highly competitive with the likes of Gloat and Eightfold and lets companies combine internal and external resourcing in a single platform

I won’t try to explain all that Flux does, but let me point out that it was built with Uber as a design partner, focused on using AI to find internal and external candidates for full-time, part-time, and gig work. It also gives employees control over their own development and careers with intelligent job, learning, and mentorship recommendations (similar to other talent marketplace vendors).

In addition to using a skills inference engine (which most of these platforms have), it also embeds a proprietary “Job Fit” assessment. What this does is essentially diagnose your personal interests, behaviors, and aspirations and helps you find “the right fit” rather than just “a job that leverages your skills.”

This is actually a pretty big deal. A typical skills system might suggest that “because you have an engineering degree and work as a software engineer you probably would be interested in a cyber-security job.” But in reality, you might be tired of engineering and really want to become a team leader or executive coach. A skills engine would never know this, but Flux would figure this out.

While there are other such assessments on the market, by embedding this into the Talent Marketplace, Beamery lets everyone in the company understand their thinking, working, and interaction style. SuccessFactors new People Model does this, but no other vendor really offers this type of functionality. You can buy a third-party assessment, but with Beamery and Flux this comes out of the box.

A large enterprise in the transportation sector reported using Flux very successfully, enabling it to place thousands of employees in full-time, part-time, and gig positions.

How does this fit into Beamery’s business? The company is positioning this as Talent Lifecycle Management, a single platform to manage candidates, employees and alumni. As you can see, Beamery sees itself in recruiting, internal mobility, and Talent Intelligence all in one.

And Beamery has something else up its sleeve. Understanding that the “skills engine” market is crowded and fragmented, the company wants its skills system to be a “hub” for others. While I haven’t seen how this works, Beamery designed its system to “translate” skills taxonomies from other systems, not necessarily to be “the single skills system of record.”

This, by the way, is what many other skills vendors are trying to do since most skills engines focus only on one part of the problem. Beamery, like other recruiting vendors Eightfold and Phenom, has a lot of experience inferring skills because of its large data set. So Beamery’s strategy, similar to that of Eightfold (and soon Gloat), is to let you add any type of data into the system – documents, email traffic, and other information that infers and validates skills.

In summary, Beamery is entering a very hot and exciting space.

In the last few weeks Gloat introduced its Organizational Agility (talent intelligence) and Opportunity Hub (third party content marketplace). Eightfold has expanded into vertical talent intelligence, intelligent job architecture, AI-enabled succession management, and new learning solutions. And other vendors keep piling on. So while Beamery has a pretty impressive system, they also have plenty of competition.

I will be discussing all this at our Irresistible Conference (May 23-25 in the beautiful USC campus) and explain how all this comes together. Please come join us to learn much more.


Agile and Accountable Organization Design the Need of Hour: Study

When it comes to organization design, the last few years have seen companies continuously experimenting with it, with changes in business dynamics, geographies, and new product or service launches. Organization design is a specific science. However, according to Josh Bersin’s latest study, many companies seem to be practicing it inconsistently or have very simplistic approaches. According to the study, as more than 90% of jobs are service roles today, traditional organization models do not work anymore; companies need models that empower people and encourage innovation. The study also found that organization design is one of the most important things to do today. It found that a great organization design is agile and accountable, creates clarity and productivity, and encourages growth. The study covered a few topics to help business and HR leaders develop a more agile and accountable design. Here are a few findings and recommendations from Josh Bersin’s latest study. See more: 4 Key Trends That Will Guide HR Strategies in 2022 Organization Design Matters Now More Than Ever Last year was one year of hope where businesses worldwide were looking to return to pre-pandemic levels. Just as they were starting to recover, the Great Resignation happened. Millions of people started quitting their jobs in droves in the U.S. alone. There were various reasons for this mass resignation. So, how can companies hire or retain great talent? According to the study, one way is to design models around remote and hybrid work, considering both are becoming a norm now. Simultaneously, the new models should also consider essential or deskless workers. Then, there is digital transformation industry convergence they must take into account. So, how should companies design their organization models? Josh Bersin’s study proposed seven major elements as part of its Organization Design Framework. They are business model design, operating model design, work design, job design, organizational structure design, methodology and approach, and implementation and adoption. Organizational Design Framework The Organizational Design Framework Source: Josh Bersin Company, 2022 According to the study, several management practices contribute to organization design. Hence, the framework groups them into seven elements instead of analyzing them independently. Leaders Lack Confidence in Their Organization Design The study surveyed over 350 companies and discovered a lack of confidence among leaders in their organization design. Most companies were not agile and accountable. They felt unsure when it came to managing their organization design and did not have clear guidelines for optimizing the redesign. The study also found that a few things worked, and a few were missing in the existing organization designs. Here are a few things that worked:
About 60% of respondents could clearly define the market segments they served.
About 51% consistently communicated their strategic direction.
About 50% understood the founder’s history and cultural impact.
Much of this clarity seems to have come about due to the pandemic. However, there were also a few critical elements missing.
Only 9% said they used agile organizational models
Only 11% used advanced methods to understand how work happened
Only 12% involved employees directly in organization design
The study further found that the organization design in most organizations surveyed was inconsistent, hierarchical, reactive, and traditional. To understand where companies are in the maturity level of their organization design, the study drew up an organization design maturity model as shown below. Organization Design Maturity Model Organization Design Maturity Model Source: Josh Bersin Company, 2022 While companies at level 1 have no expertise and perform poorly, companies at level 4 outperform others and can be considered role models. According to the study, 25% of the surveyed companies were at level 1, and 33% were at level 2. About 31% were at level 3, while only 11% were at level 4. Some Organization Design Strategies and Practices Are of More Importance The study tried to understand if all the strategies and practices of organization design matter or some have a bigger impact on business outcomes. After analyzing its organization design framework, it found that a few dimensions have a bigger impact. Accountability and rewards, flexible structure, and effective change management were found to have a very high impact on organizational outcomes. They were followed by purpose and business strategy, talent strategy, culture and leadership, skills and experience focus, and flexible role design. On the other hand, traditional job architecture and team-based structures had minimal impact. How can companies climb up the maturity model to become both agile and accountable at scale? Great organization design solutions are more strategic than having an agile manifesto and using traditional design models, jobs, and organizational structures. Here are five findings that can help.
As mentioned earlier, most companies feel insecure or inexperienced about organization design. Many of them also lack a dedicated organization design team. The study proposed that creating a dedicated team that owns, demystifies, and defines the domain pays off by enhancing business efficiencies.
Many companies have traditional hierarchical structures suitable for the industrial age and are least impactful on business outcomes today. Work design is the most impactful element, yet companies are least effective in the area. Hence, companies should focus on how they operate than how they organize.
Many companies think they need to be tech companies to work in agile ways. However, with the right approaches, any organization can become agile and accountable.
When many companies think of organization design, they focus on individuals when implementing the model. However, employee experience and capability considerations should be part of the design and not an afterthought.
A major finding was that accountability is vital to organization design. A focus on accountability and rewards makes success sustainable.
To help companies start, the study laid out 15 essential practices and strategies that have the biggest impact on business outcomes, including innovation, financial performance, and people metrics. 15 Essential Practices 15 essential practices of agile and accountable companies Source: Josh Bersin Company, 2022 See more: Tips for HR Leaders To Overcome 5 Common Objections When Proposing Change How Companies Can Move From One Maturity Level to the Next So, how can organizations move from Level 1 of the organization design maturity model to Level 4? The study lays down a few steps. However, before following these steps, organizations should know which level they are at. They should also realize that they cannot skip a step to reach the highest level. Further, they should commit the necessary resources and efforts to achieve the next level. According to the study, the following steps will help organizations move from one level to the next.
To move from Level 1 to Level 2, organizations should become intentional about organization design.
To advance from Level 2 to Level 3, companies should focus on strategy and culture.
To move from Level 3 to Level 4, companies should translate strategy into work activities.
With a good organization design becoming necessary, companies should also focus on operationalizing it. Here are a few steps they should take.
Identify the business problem to solve and define measures
Bring a cross-functional team together
Run organization design as a business process instead of a project
Build HR capabilities for organization design
To Conclude Organization design is no longer an option but a necessity for businesses to grow and thrive in a continuously changing world. Simultaneously, it need not be a mysterious black box that cannot be decoded. By identifying their level in organization design maturity, what capabilities they need to build, what elements they need to focus on to create the best impact on business outcomes, and what actions they need to take, companies can become agile and accountable. This will set up organizations for success, mitigating cost pressures, empowering employees, and finding the right solutions for partners and customers.


Why Compassionate Leadership Makes Both Dollars And Sense

TOPLINE Elon Musk sold more than 4.4 million shares of electric car company Tesla earlier this week for just under $4 billion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings released Thursday evening, shortly after the billionaire Tesla CEO agreed to buy Twitter.

Elon Musk Visits Site Of New Tesla Gigafactory In Germany
Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks on August 13 near Berlin, Germany. GETTY IMAGES
The sales took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, at prices ranging between about $872 and $999 per share, the regulatory filings said.

Musk still owns more than 168 million shares of Tesla.

Shortly after the sales were disclosed, Musk tweeted: “No further TSLA sales planned after today.”

$246.2 billion. That’s Musk’s net worth, according to Forbes’ estimates. His stakes in Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX account for most of his wealth.

Twitter’s board of directors agreed Monday to sell the company to Musk, wrapping up a dramatic period that began with Musk buying up 9.2% of Twitter and later making an unsolicited bid to purchase the entire social media company at a valuation of $44 billion. The deal—which still needs to be approved by Twitter’s shareholders—will require Musk to come up with some cash: The billionaire offered to pay for Twitter using $21 billion in equity financing, in addition to more than $20 billion in loans.

Shares of Tesla have fallen more than 12% this week, closing at $877.51 Thursday. Some analysts think the sliding share prices are tied to Musk’s commitment to buying Twitter, which could distract the Tesla CEO and force him to sell part of his stake in the company.

Amid climate catastrophe and pandemic-induced disruption, a new age is taking shape. To prepare, business must lead with digital, empower consumers and act with purpose, says Euan Davis, who leads Cognizant’s thought leadership.

The Future of Us COGNIZANT
Amid widespread dysfunction—a pandemic, a previously unthinkable war, unprecedented weather events, snarled supply chains, rampant labor shortages—it’s easy to sense the old world fading away, never to return. Less obvious, but as certain, is the dawning of a new era.

This new reality will be defined by a volatile planet whose citizens, businesses and governments discover new ways to function productively, safely, sustainably and meaningfully. It will also be infused with astonishing technological progress and innovation and hope.

Call it the “net zero era”—not because carbon reduction is the only need of the day but because the term encapsulates the many challenges the world faces, the most threatening of which is sustaining the planet. For business leaders everywhere, it will be essential to recognize the glimmers of this new era and grasp what’s important and what’s possible.

Field guide to the net zero era
We’ve developed a field guide to what the net zero era entails, as well as the three essential drivers forward-thinking businesses need to embrace to navigate it successfully. (For a full exploration of the topic, see our e-book “The Future of Us.”) Here’s a quick rundown on each driver—why it’s vital and how to prepare for it:

  1. Digital+: View everything through a digital lens.
    The complex solutions needed to solve our interconnected social, economic, health and environmental challenges will rely on the speed, automation, intelligence and connectedness that only a digital-first mindset can bring. New business and operational models—from “everything as a service” (XaaS), to circular business models, to systems thinking—will be supported by advanced modes of information sharing, collaboration and intensive analytics.

Going forward, organizations won’t find satisfactory solutions in isolation. Rather, they’ll need deeper collaboration through tech-enabled ecosystems that pool ideas, opportunities, capabilities and risk.

Organizations can prepare for this increased collaboration by empowering dedicated teams to swarm around a specific challenge, and connect these teams with other industry partners and innovative startups to unlock new insights about the art of the possible. Using systems thinking (mapping the impact of business decisions beyond the immediate next step in the supply chain and optimizing processes with objectives that extend to the benefit of a larger subset of players), businesses can also improve the value and effectiveness of their collaborations.

  1. Consumer empowerment: Understand the newly conscious, self-reliant consumer.
    The old customer relationship is broken. Consumers not only want to be known by the businesses they interact with through personalization initiatives; increasingly, they also demand agency over the formulation of the end products they buy, the services they consume, the choices they make, and the experiences they choose. Businesses need to provide the transparency, trust and control consumers increasingly demand.

Rather than placing consumers at the receiving end of the product development process, forward-thinking businesses are including them as partners in co-creating goods and services. The result: an end product completely suited to their lifestyle and principles, from reducing their environmental impact to getting the exact product for their needs or tastes.

This shift is already underway. Through social platforms, consumers are becoming more influential than traditional marketers, building and marketing their own content and even physical goods. Businesses must respond and prepare by identifying whether their current market segmentation offers enough insight about their customers’ values to engage them in a hands-on co-creation process. They should also consider which technologies could make it easier to obtain consumers’ input at different parts of the value creation process and product lifecycle.

  1. Purpose: Promote and support a sense of purpose and belonging.
    Shareholders, regulators and consumers are asking institutions to tap into a deep sense of purpose to persevere and thrive in a world redefined by illness and natural calamity but also refreshed by technological advancement and innovation. Attracting the next generation of talent and building closer relationships with customers will depend on developing and acting on a corporate ethos that guarantees workers of all stripes a supportive work environment.

In the net zero era, businesses seeking to attract and retain top talent must adequately invest in the planning, preparation and execution phases of hybrid work. A major piece of this strategizing will center on developing role-specific work-location strategies.

Using a heads-up/heads-down model, work-redesign teams can estimate how much of a given role’s time and responsibilities are spent on activities that are best facilitated in-office or remotely. The resulting flexible work structures should be customized, best-fit arrangements, based on employee input and guidance, and a work assessment based on activities instead of functional groupings.

Meanwhile, the physical workplace will become not just a place work gets done but an attractive place to mentor and be mentored, collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop cultural cohesion and a sense of shared purpose.

Facing the challenges of the net zero era will require targeted investment, innovative thinking and quick action. The pandemic has brought down the curtain on digital’s first act, and now the second act is about to begin. A new era is unfolding—the net zero era. This is the Future of Us.


Determining “nonnegotiables” in the new hybrid era of work

As businesses look for ways to move forward in a rapidly changing world, it seems that everything is in flux. “It’s a new era, one that’s focused on hybrid and new ways of working,” PwC’s recent workplace pulse survey reported. People are “all over the map” in terms of where they want to work—at home, in the office, or any combination of the two. At the same time, companies large and small are grappling with decisions over which mode of work makes the most sense for their business and their people.

In those industries in which remote and hybrid work is possible, flexibility is essential to attracting and retaining great employees, particularly amid low unemployment. “We are both seeing the fiercest labor market of our lifetime and employees making demands in terms of how they want to work, where they want to work,” said Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley earlier this year. “So they do hold the power today.”

The current moment presents an opportunity for businesses to develop new arrangements: helping employees find the work experiences they seek and aligning new modes of operating with new people strategies. As Denise Hamilton noted in strategy+business, instead of a “great resignation,” there could be a “great renegotiation.” Of course, the need to negotiate new ways of working does not negate any of the absolute necessities for businesses to succeed. In advising companies, we have found that it is crucial to determine which facets of the work experience are “nonnegotiable.” (In this context, we use nonnegotiables to mean elements that must be strong within the organization. The flexibility of hybrid work brings benefits, but it must not damage these elements.)

Though nonnegotiables may differ somewhat from organization to organization, many of them apply to most businesses. We find it’s helpful to break them into four major categories.

A pyramid chart groups four categories of “nonnegotiables” in a hybrid work environment, applied to individuals, teams, customers, and communities.

The biggest category is nonnegotiables for the individual. There’s no higher priority for organizations than recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers. But in the hybrid era, organizations face something of a catch-22. “If businesses insist that people return to the office, they risk losing talent,” PwC US’s Governance Insights Center has noted. But at the same time, “if they let employees stay at home, they may have to grapple with maintaining a culture that was established onsite.” And, as PwC’s 2021 global culture survey found, cultural cohesion is important for ensuring employees feel connected to the workplace.

Meet the four forces shaping your workforce strategy
Businesses that are open to having top-notch, diverse employees as part of their team, regardless of where those employees live (or need to live for personal reasons), benefit. Businesses also must make sure their top picks are saying yes when given job offers—and are still with the company years later. This means closely tracking the experiences of prospects, new hires, and existing employees; learning why potential hires turn down jobs and why existing employees leave; and continuously working to improve both recruitment and retention.

It also requires close support of each employee’s growth through mentoring and skill development. In a 2019 article on training and development, the University of Massachusetts Global cited a survey in which “60% of respondents said they’d choose a job with strong professional development opportunities over one with regular pay raises.” And the following year, in the Harvard Business Review, Margaret Rogers, a vice president at consulting firm Pariveda Solutions, called more effective development programs the “most obvious solution to upping employee retention.”

Connections between colleagues are crucial for building teamwork, collaboration, and morale—and increasingly, productivity. These connections have also taken a hit during the pandemic, according to a study by Microsoft. And in a 2021 PwC pulse survey, chief marketing officers said their top concern was the potential loss of innovation stemming from diminished teamwork. The survey analysis concluded that technology, including “tools that enable collaboration at a distance—as well as tools that put the right data in front of the right people at the right time,” can help to mitigate the loss. Relationships and interactions can also be improved through use of cross-functional teams and peer coaching.

Prioritizing development on both the individual and team levels is also a nonnegotiable because of the challenges presented to organizations by skill gaps. “Half of all employees around the world will need reskilling by 2025—and that number does not include all the people who are currently not in employment,” PwC Global Chairman Robert E. Moritz and World Economic Forum Managing Director Saadia Zahidi wrote in the 2021 report Upskilling for Shared Prosperity.

Other nonnegotiables involve how your business connects with its current and potential customers. If customers feel ignored or underserved, they’ll bring their business elsewhere. Amid the current labor market churn, this has become a growing problem. CMOs report that current staff shortages are having a negative impact on the customer experience, with 40% citing it as a major issue.

As organizations test out possibilities for hybrid work, they need to ensure that staff are still having genuine, relevant interactions with prospects and new customers, while also nurturing existing customer relationships. For example, a business might need staff to travel to the office or to a client site for events celebrating customer milestones. Depending on what the client prefers, this could be an example of a time when a “Zoom party” just wouldn’t cut it.

Finally, it is critical to consider the implications of the hybrid work model on the broader community. More than ever, all stakeholders in a business—including its employees, its customers, its investors, and those who live in the same cities as its facilities—are looking for companies to take action on major social and environmental issues. They want to see organizations involved in the community.

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that “all stakeholders hold business accountable.” Personal beliefs and values now help determine which brands 58% of customers buy or advocate for, which companies 60% of employees choose to work at, and which businesses 80% of investors choose to put their money into. Having a prominent, active voice in addressing the biggest challenges of our time has become a business imperative.

So, as organizations experiment with hybrid work options, it’s crucial that they also examine their impact on communities and show a strong commitment to helping lead the way in creating positive change. Through employee surveys and other workforce engagement metrics, as well as regular check-ins between managers and their reports, executives can keep close tabs on all these elements and make sure the organization is advancing on them.

As businesses look to navigate through this time of profound change, there are no one-size-fits-all answers. The needs of all the different groups we’ve discussed must be balanced against one another—and those needs will keep changing, too. But, as long as your business knows what its nonnegotiables are, you’ll know which factors to keep a close eye on. And you’ll be in a strong position to chart a new path forward.