How to Shift to a Consumer Mindset to Modernize Your Workforce


In the future, organizations will be responding to new or increasing workforce pressures such as a diversifying workforce, rise in contingent labor, intelligent automation in the workplace and a shift to a consumer mindset. In response, leaders must shift their mindset from a focus on process to a focus on talent, which in itself has changed drastically.

What we’re seeing with the talent market in general, and what our clients are therefore asking for in particular, is a real shift toward a consumerism model for talent. So organizations are starting to treat their employees and their prospective employees the same way that they’re looking at their customers and their prospective customers. They want to understand all the aspects of what would make them engaged in their organization. They want to understand all the things that would drive them to want to work for their organization.

And they’re using a lot of the same techniques that a lot of chief marketing officers and sort of digital natives are using around bringing an experience to an employee or to a potential recruit that feels very tailored and curated for them. So we’re really seeing a shift from offering employment to offering experience and offering a purpose and a purpose-oriented career from offering sort of employment that’s tied to salary and benefits and some of the more traditional ways of thinking about the employee/employer relationship.

If we could tell our clients to do one thing, it would actually, ironically enough, be to look at everything. And we don’t mean change everything. But it’s really important for organizations to start thinking about every aspect of that employee experience. Everything that touches an employee or touches a recruit, their digital experience, their social experience, their environmental experience — put all of those things on the table. Not just what an HR function might own, or an IT function might own, or the business leader, but everything. And start to understand the connection between all of those elements, and start to really understand the changes that you’ve made and the changes you’d like to make in those areas with your end customer in mind too, in this case, as an employee or prospective employee.

So for us a really important first step is understanding the field of play. What are all the things that you have at your disposal as an organization to influence the experience of your employees? And once we start to really get a sense of that, we can then start to talk about what are the right areas to change and how the different functions kind of assert their own responsibility and where we should invest the most in terms of time and money and effort. But for us, the first step is always to curate and understand everything that impacts the experience your employees have.

So we mentioned before the aspects of digital, social and environmental, and those are good sort of big buckets of categories. In the traditional kind of HR speak, you have competition programs and benefit programs, you have all sorts of ancillary programs you may have put in place, ranging from tuition reimbursement to the ability to work from home. If you’re in the CIO’s seat or in her office, you might be thinking about the technology that you have and the infrastructure that you’re creating to meet employees where they’re at from a mobile perspective. And if you know you’re a business leader, you may be thinking about the work you’re asking employees to do and the purpose behind that. If you’re an executive, you’re undoubtedly thinking about the overall cultural impact that your organization has and its impact in the communities that it operates in.

All of those aspects sort of conspire to make an experience for an employee. They’re all aspects of the ecosystem that surrounds every employee every day. So as you’re thinking about an organization, what are those aspects that I can really be focusing on, the big buckets in our world are digital, social and environmental. And they run the gamut from the way you interact with employees every day to the work you ask them to do to the tools you give them to do it.

That means things should be easy to do. And that’s been something that we’ve been striving for in certainly corporate America for as long as a lot of us have been in our roles. We’ve tried to make work easier. We’ve tried to make someone’s life easier. What we haven’t really been able to do is work across our traditional functions to make work easier and make it more digital or more mobile-enabled. So when we’ve worked with companies, we’ve sought to really help them create a digital experience. It could be a mobile experience, it could be a website-based experience, it could be something that’s based in a specific technology, to allow for employees and managers and potential employees to solve all of their problems in as few steps as possible.

That’s becoming a real hallmark of a good digital experience: it is the ability to have a very consistent, very fast way of interacting with a problem and shutting it down as quickly as possible. So that means we’re not looking at creating online forms for people to fill out anymore. It means we’re creating in many cases technologies and applications that are mobile first. It means that we’re bringing forward all the things that we’re seeing in the process automation in natural language processing spaces in the consumer world. Or bringing them into an organization to help with everything from closing the books every month and every quarter on the finance side to processing an application and screening candidates on the recruiting side and creating marketing segments and cohorts on the marketing side.

With almost any application that you can think of, we’re starting to see organizations take advantage of digital tools to kind of solve problems in ways that aren’t necessarily aligned to the traditional functions of an organization, but are more rooted in the types of things that employees need to get done.

So given these shifts, what critical skills and capabilities will be required in the future that don’t exist today?

A lot of organizations have started to invest in what we might call data analysts or data experts. And that’s a great place to start. These are people who can understand broad swaths of data, can start to distill it and draw insights from it and start to make recommendations from what information and data tell you. Those are great skills to have, I think regardless of sort of what the latest trend is in terms of organizational change. People who can curate, digest, interpret and act on what data tells you are always going to be relevant employees.

So for sure, that is like a bedrock. Moving from that, we’re really starting to see, particularly in more of an HR lens, we’re starting to see a real focus on people whose experience would give them an employee experience kind of background. So they would be thinking about the employee as a customer. A lot of times these folks are coming out of sales and marketing. And they’re looking at every aspect of things like the moments that matter for an employee throughout her journey in an organization, from being recruited all the way to potentially retiring one day. And what are all of those aspects that are important to her? And how can I curate that for her, so it feels like it’s special?

And so those skills really are around creating user-first or user-centric design. That’s a great skill set in the market. We’re starting to see a lot, if we’re thinking more on the softer side, the ability to negotiate across multiple places in an organization is becoming really important. At the heart of a lot of these changes is the need for increased cooperation and collaboration across the traditional functions of a business.

And because of that, it’s not enough just to have a good idea. You need to be able to really bring the right experts together to solve the problem. And having that skill set to negotiate effectively is a skill that again is really never going to be out of style, will always be in vogue, but will become increasingly important in the next few years.

So when we talk to CHROs, [chief human resource officer] we give them a few different areas that we suggest they focus on in the future of work. One is around the culture of the organization. We’re not suggesting that HR should own the culture of an organization; I think culture is very much a diffused and in many cases sort of multi-climate thing. So in many ways culture belongs to the business. In many ways culture is enforced by a lot of things that HR owns in terms of policy and process and role. But it’s not necessarily the exclusive domain of the HR function.

However, a CHRO really needs to have a seat at the table in talking about aspects of an organization’s culture that the executives would want to maintain and aspects that maybe they want to change. And we’ve been seeing that as culture becomes an increasingly hot topic amongst C-suite executives. Our research is bearing out that CEOs, CIOs and CHROs are all listing culture as a primary initiative in the next two to three years. So for sure culture is an area that we’d like to see a CHRO focus on.

Back to this notion of employee experience, we want to see a CHRO starting to focus on that as well. It’s important for the CHRO to control what they can control and to orchestrate what they can’t. So they might not be able to influence the environmental aspects of a workspace environment, for example, or the social aspects from a charitable contribution in a community service-type point of view. But they can certainly influence them.

And they are certainly in the best position to curate the entirety of the employee experience and influence those around them, so we can make sure that we’re thinking about the employee at the center when we start to design changes to the way that company works, where an organization works.

Those are two big examples of areas of focus for a CHRO in the future. We would suggest all of that is underpinned by increasing amounts of workforce analytics that are driving even greater insights into your own workforce. Put differently, data. An organization has far more data at its fingertips than many organizations realize, and they don’t always know how to use it. And there’s a real skill to be able to pull all that data together and draw insights from it that help influence culture and help influence experience. So we’re not making changes just based on instinct; we’re making them based and grounded in data.

We’re also thinking about the shape of the workforce. It’s important not just to be doing workforce planning in a traditional way, which is oftentimes sort of replacing what you currently have and thinking about it from your current state, but to start to work backwards from a future state, thinking about automation, thinking about increased, or different, uses of contingent labor, thinking about different businesses that you might want to be in or geographies your organization might be exploring.

Working backwards from those future states and building a series of workforce plans backwards from the future, as opposed to forward from the present, is a great way to shift the mindset of a CHRO and of an executive team and really get them making decisions tomorrow that will influence the organization in two to three years.

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *