Why it’s time to redefine ‘organisational resilience’ in the modern workplace

How should we define “resilience” in the business context of today?

In his latest book, best-selling author Bruce Daisley argues that the concept of resilience urgently needs an upgrade for the post-pandemic world.

Daisley, former vp of Twitter in EMEA, contends that resilience has negative connotations akin to grit and graft. He believes this should be replaced by the more well-rounded science of fortitude, the name of his new book.

But there are others who aren’t ready to sideline “resilience” as the appropriate definition for the kind of characteristics business leaders and employees need to show in order to thrive at work.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Neutral ground: Why offsite meetings will be the norm for hybrid workforces

Forget in-office or virtual meetings: The majority of collaborative-working tasks will take place at off-site venues in future.

That’s because offsites offer something offices don’t — neutral ground for employees who don’t want to work continuously from an office, but also don’t want to be entirely remote, according to Alexia Cambon, a director in management consultancy Gartner’s HR practice.

The feeling of being monitored in an office by technology or a manager creates tension and means the employee does not feel comfortable. Indeed, only 14% of 2,336 hybrid and remote employees surveyed in Gartner’s Culture in a Hybrid World report, published in May, said that they can be themselves the most when working alone, but in an office. Meanwhile, 52% preferred working solo, asynchronously, and away from colleagues.

Hence, offsite meet-ups are a good middle ground. “When you remove employees from the employer-controlled environment and put them in a third space, this neutral space, a lot of interesting things can start to happen,” said Cambon.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Amid economic turmoil, HR budgets are under threat

As the specter of a global financial crash looms, businesses are pruning budgets, and human resources departments are first in line for the chop, according to new research by HR software company Personio.

More than half (55%) of HR managers have either had their budgets slashed already, or expect them to be cut in the coming months, according to the report, which surveyed 500 HR professionals and 1,000 workers in the U.K. and Ireland. Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they’re used to their department’s budget being the first to get trimmed when businesses tighten their belts.

But this approach is wrongheaded and will have lasting ramifications, argued Ross Seychell, Personio’s chief people officer. “HR should be even more of a priority now, not less,” he said.

That’s because areas typically within the HR remit — like company culture and employee experience — are more important than ever, as organizations continue to battle to get people into the office and ensure the experience is worthwhile when they do. All at a time when talent retention is just as vital.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How technology can help millions of seasonal affective disorder sufferers this winter

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affected 10 million people in the U.S. alone in 2019. And the knock-on effect on a person’s mental health and by extension – their job and productivity – can be substantial. But are organizations sensitive enough to their needs? And how can technology help?

Yvonne Eskenzi, the owner of London-based cybersecurity agency Eskenzi PR, has suffered from SAD since childhood and said the onset of SAD is unmistakable. “You can smell the air change and temperature,” she said. “Then you notice the days becoming shorter and darker at night, which triggers a deep sense of foreboding, sadness and anxiety.” 

Eskenzi added that she feels less creative, foggy-headed, and nowhere near as sociable as usual in a work setting. HR departments must be proactive about treating SAD in colder, darker regions. But is enough being done?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Most HR professionals have got it wrong – longer hours do not mean better performance

The phrase “hard work pays off” (or subtle variations thereof) has to be one of the most popular nuggets of advice in the last century and beyond. This maxim, passed down from generation to generation, has conditioned us to believe that the more we do something, the more we will be rewarded. 

However, there is growing evidence that shows this attitude is counter-productive. Moreover, overworking is dangerous. And most worryingly, over two-thirds (68%) of European human resources professionals are peddling the idea that high-performing employees work longer hours than average employees, according to a study by Gartner.

How, then, can performance be improved in a world where people are exhausted (because they are working harder)?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Managers confess their quiet firing tactics

The public scrutiny around “quiet firing” doesn’t appear to be letting up. For good reason. At a time when employees are reevaluating what they put into their jobs (what some now describe as quiet quitting), more employers are also reassessing what employees are putting in. And that could lead to more quiet firings — when an employer or manager uses different, passive-aggressive tactics that have the same goal: making the employee want to quit themselves.

In truth, it’s one of those secrets that has been hidden in plain sight for years. A LinkedIn News poll from late August suggested that 83% of over 20,000 voters had witnessed quiet firing. And some managers have mastered the dark art of persuading staff to leave of their own volition. WorkLife spoke to various senior leaders who admitted to quiet firing, to understand why they have resorted to the passive-aggressive work tactic.

Under the condition of anonymity and agreed on pseudonyms — for fear of career-damaging repercussions — they shared their subtle strategies. We’ve selected four of the most compelling examples.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Rise in ’employee nomading’ leaves HR teams baffled about where their staff are

Ask any human resources professional what their biggest work headache is, and you’re unlikely to hear it’s that they can’t locate their staff.

It turns out, the shift to hybrid or fully remote working that’s occurred over the last few years has meant that now HR departments are often left in the dark about where all their employees are. And in many cases, employees who decide to travel somewhere to work for a week or month aren’t always informing HR.

Well over two-thirds of employees surveyed in the U.S. and U.K. said they do not report which days they work outside of their home state or country to HR, according to HR company Topia’s Adapt to Work Anywhere report.

A further 40% of HR professionals admitted they were shocked to discover certain employees had changed their working location without informing them, but also conceded that many more employees who have gone AWOL may have done so under the radar, according to the same report.

It’s a catch-22 for employers. Most (96%) employees interviewed in the Topia survey (and other surveys indicate similar findings) ranked flexibility in working arrangements as a key factor when seeking a new employer. And 94% agreed with the statement: “I should be able to work from anywhere I want as long as I get my work done.” 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How Meta is redesigning the way its distributed employees work together

For most companies, figuring out what workplace model best suits their workforces and organizational needs will be an ongoing process of trial and error that will iterate over the next few years. Meta is no exception.

Unlike its big-tech counterparts Apple and Google, Meta is pushing forward with its remote, decentralized working model. In March many of its senior leadership team reportedly spread out to work from a range of locations beyond its Silicon Valley headquarters including New York, Hawaii, the U.K. and Israel.

That’s a strategy that won’t be without its headaches. But Meta’s senior leadership is laser-focused on ironing out any inevitable kinks.

Establishing what different challenges occur for distributed teams versus teams that are physically together in one office location is a priority. And finding the right balance between in-person and remote work will require some experimentation.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are employers creating a lost generation of managers?

For all the benefits of flexible working, a stark question remains unanswered: How will no or little in-office experience affect our young and future managers?

To some, the opportunities to learn through osmosis, either in the office or at work socials, are already dwindling. If left unchecked, it could potentially lead to a lost generation of young managers in knowledge-worker industries, they think.

Perhaps employers deserve some sympathy. With the war for talent raging and a gloomy economic outlook, investment in developing young workers could be costly with little return.

Maybe it makes better sense to work backward: What skills will the managers of tomorrow require? UJJI research identified the five skill areas for good managers in the world of modern work as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, and productivity.

How can these skills be honed if workplace learning is limited?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How employee monitoring has shifted from creepy to empowering HR teams

A friend giddily informed me a few days ago that she had “found the perfect eraser.” Perplexed as to why something that rubs out pencil marks would evoke such glee, I asked for more details. “This eraser is the ideal weight; I can rest it on the space bar, so the screen stays awake if I leave the desk,” she said. “That way, my manager thinks I’m still being active at my computer.”

Employees who feel they are being observed for no good reason tend to find a way to game the system, argued Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice. “If your employer is trying to screw you by creepily monitoring you, there are various things you can do to screw them over,” he said.

For instance, he revealed that if computer mouse activity is being tracked, then an analog watch can help. If you position the mouse on the watch, then the second hand creates just enough motion to make it still active.

Monitoring is on the rise, though. According to Gartner’s research, around 30% of the medium and large corporate organizations it assesses had tracking systems in place before the pandemic. “Now the percentage is more than 60%,” said Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Glass half-full or half-empty: How to balance a partying culture at work

What was your honest reaction when Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, was scandalized for partying recently? In August, the 36-year-old sparked controversy after leaked videos showed her dancing and drinking with friends. 

Whichever side of the bar you sit on, Marin’s partying raised important questions about how business leaders in all walks of life should conduct themselves when with and without colleagues in a social environment. 

How do employees feel about a boozy boss? And do enforced work events, where people are encouraged to imbibe at a free bar, help or hinder the health of a workplace in a post-pandemic world?

Indeed, in most industries, for decades – if not centuries – socializing with colleagues and attending work drinks has been central to company culture. Away from the workplace, over a glass or two, people can relax, make meaningful memories, share challenges and opportunities – at work and home – and, ultimately, strengthen bonds with coworkers. But is the glass half-full, half-empty, or completely empty in 2022?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Workers share their worst toxic boss experiences

All the chatter about quiet quitting – namely, doing what a job requires and no more – has provoked deeper discussions about toxic workplace culture and poor management as organizations firm up their hybrid-working strategies.

Some execs have aired concerns that the bring-your-whole-selves-to-work trend has backfired, and in many cases has caused fragmented workforces, while some leaders have taken advantage of the concept to justify their own questionable behavior.

WorkLife spoke to a range of employees from those who consider themselves quiet quitters, to those who have resigned outright, plus those still considering resigning, to find out what prompted them to take their current course of action. Under the condition of anonymity – for fear of career-damaging repercussions – they shared their recent experiences, which highlight the alarming management they have endured. We’ve selected three of the worst accounts.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Lessons from Spotify’s work-from-anywhere rollout

Spotify launched a new work model called “work from anywhere” (WFA) in February 2021 – and it was music to the ears of its 8,600 employees, according to data published in early August.  

The policy enabled staff to decide when they worked in a company office or wherever else on the planet, as long as the Swedish-headquartered company had a hub in that country.

The music-streaming company also tweaked its salary bands, recalibrating them by nation rather than city or region. That seemed to be a popular move: 6% of its 11,453 employees moved countries after this policy was introduced, and a large chunk of whom moved within the U.S.

The headline news, though, is that despite the great resignation trend, Spotify claimed staff churn has reduced compared to pre-pandemic levels and that it has also boosted the diversity of its workforce – as a direct result of the policy. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

More companies are publishing salary bands – is this the future, or risky?

At the end of July, Hook, a creative production house based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and San Francisco, took the bold but progressive step of publishing its pay bands on its website. It is a milestone moment in a five-year journey for the company striving to achieve greater parity and transparency.

The hope is competitors and organizations in other industries that are typically slow to keep pace with change will follow its lead.

A growing number of states are adopting salary transparency laws. But is publishing salary bands truly a good idea, considering rival companies could, in theory, steal top talent by offering more money?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How hybrid working has complicated mergers & acquisitions

Up to 90% of business acquisitions don’t achieve the expected value or benefits. The principal reason for this failure is that integrating groups is notoriously challenging – and even more so now, with many organizations shifting to hybrid working strategies. 

Global deal-making activities hit a record $6 trillion last year. And yet, while employees are the most critical asset of most companies, they often get neglected in the excitement of an M&A.

The age-old M&A model typically involved the employees of one company leaving their offices, to join those of their new employer. But with today’s hybrid and flexible working setups, that looks very different. And adds new complexity to the long-term challenge of successful cultural integration.

Organic opportunities for new colleagues to connect are likely to be missed thanks to the move to hybrid working. So what could – and should – be done?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to fix the metaverse’s sexual harassment problem (and make ‘metawork’ a reality)

Since Meta – the tech titan formerly known as Facebook – revealed last year that it would invest heavily in the metaverse, there has been massive enthusiasm about the possibilities of this nascent technology, not least in a future-of-work capacity. 

Indeed, at the end of July, a study by Grand View Research predicted the booming metaverse market will reach $6.8 trillion by 2030. However, alarming recent data indicates that almost two-thirds of adults believe metaverse technologies will enable sexual harassment.

national tracking poll by business-intelligence company Morning Consult, published in March, found that 61% of 4,420 U.S. adults were concerned about this specific subject. Women seem most worried about it, with 41% of female respondents saying they have “major” concerns, compared to 34% of males. 

The same research showed that 79% of adults are worried about the tracking and misuse of personal data in the metaverse. Add in the numerous articles written about people’s personal experiences of harassment in the metaverse, and it’s clear there is a deep-rooted trust issue that business leaders should consider before funding metaverse worlds for employees, whether onboarding staff, hosting events, or meetings.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘It’s pulling us apart’: Has the ‘bring our whole selves to work’ trend backfired?

In the post-Covid-19 era, business leaders are advised to be authentic in word and deed, display their vulnerabilities, and encourage staff to bring their whole selves to work. But some argue this has merely opened a can of worms within organizations — an outcome that may be hard to rectify.

Almost half (44%) of U.S. employees said they have actively avoided some co-workers because they disagree with their political views since returning to the office following the coronavirus crisis, according to unpublished Gartner research seen by WorkLife.

Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice, acknowledged that events of the last 2 1/2 years have frayed work relationships. Still, in his view, we have brought this problem on ourselves.

“We spend so much time talking about ‘bringing your whole self to work,’ making sure that we’re inclusive and encouraging people to be who they are when they’re in the office,” he said. “Part of an employee’s whole self is their political beliefs.”

As workplaces have become more open and inclusive, they have also invited the day’s political, societal and cultural debates into the workplace. “Unfortunately, in this period of extreme political and cultural tension, that conflict has permeated into the workplace, and now it’s pulling us apart from each other,” added Kropp.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

People are being harsher in the workplace post-pandemic – how did we get here?

Be honest: are you snappier with your colleagues and harsher with your spoken and written words than two years ago? We might not like to admit it, but the pandemic altered us all, to a degree – at work and home. 

Individually, the change might be imperceptible. However, collectively it adds up to a negative conclusion. And if left unchecked, this general lack of positivity will toxify the workplace and corrode relationships.

Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice, expressed his concern for employers and their staff. “There are numerous things pulling employees apart from each other, and that’s incredibly difficult as an organization because the purpose of having a company is bringing people together, to collaborate, and to achieve something bigger than any individual could achieve alone,” he said.

Could this be the start of a worrying trend? “We’re finding that we are entering a period where things inside and outside our organizations are causing the workforce fragmentation,” Kropp added. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Is retirement dead?

The age-old concept of a three-stage life – education, employment, and retirement – needs rethinking. To make the most of the opportunity requires a shift in mindset and a change in investment strategy

Ageing was much simpler in the olden days. For centuries – if not millennia – most people’s lives have been accomplished in three stages: learning, which leads to employment, then retirement. 

But in 2022, largely thanks to the wonders of technology and improved healthcare, the traditional notion of old age is evolving. As a result, life is all the more thrilling. Now, the supposed retirement age could – and should – be embraced as an additional phase of life, one of newfound freedoms, whether hobbies, businesses or passions. 

Retirement is no longer a period of winding down or dependence. On the contrary, the concept will soon expire, contends Andrew Scott, a world-leading expert on longevity and professor of economics at London Business School. 

There’s no need for pipe and slippers in the 21st century. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows the number of people in the UK aged 85 and over was a record 1.7 million in 2020. That amount is projected to almost double to 3.1 million by 2045. 

Additionally, the ONS calculates that life expectancy at birth in 2020 was 87.3 years for males and 90.2 years for females. Consider, at the start of the 1980s these figures were 70.8 and 76.8 years, respectively.

Rising life expectancy and population age go hand in hand. And this trend is global: the world population’s median age in 1970 was 21.5 years, and almost 31 in 2020, according to the United Nations Population Division.

Taking actions for a more rewarding retirement

However, to make the most of the possibilities of old age, it’s critical to take action today for a more rewarding tomorrow, urges Scott.

“Now there is a greater risk you may outlive your wealth,” he says, referring to squirrelled-away savings and pension pots that have been the typical source of funds for retirees. “So you need to invest more in your future self. One of those key investments is finance, but health, relationships, and engagement – developing good health, skills and relationships all play important parts. Any financial plan, though, should be dictated around your life plan.”

In 2016, The 100-Year Life – a book authored by Scott and Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School – was published. And while it’s often said “age is just a number”, could it be that we have been using the wrong measurement all along?

“It was randomly decided that 65 is ‘old’,” continues Scott, “and the older I get – I’m in my 50s – the more I dislike that as a starting point. While more people live for longer, that doesn’t consider changes in how we age, either our health or our behaviour.”

The average Brit has never been so old but never had so long left to live

He believes how we define old age “requires a rethink because traditional age, measured chronologically, is confusing” and often misleading regarding life expectancy. “We need to focus on biological age rather than chronological age,” says Scott. “And we also need to consider prospective age more – that is, the number of years we have left to live. For instance, the average Brit has never been so old but never had so long left to live – this is how we have to adjust our thinking.”

Clearly, good health and good wealth are mutually reinforcing for a life lived as long and as fully as possible. But does this require both a shift in mindset and a change in investment strategy? For instance, Tony Müdd, divisional director for St. James’s Place development and technical consultancy, suggests pension schemes are a good idea, but that you can tailor contributions to match your earning potential. In your 50s, you are likely to be in a better financial position than in your 20s, so why not bump up your input?

Thinking beyond pensions

And while a pension will provide a decent chunk of income for many people in later life, it’s far from the only source. Müdd stresses the benefits of a diversified portfolio of tax-efficient investments, maybe in property or other assets.

He notes, though, that while a later life packed with adventure, excitement and new opportunities is the ultimate goal for most of us, the reality is that dream can be killed by poor health. Müdd worries people often take a “head-in-the-sand approach” to monitoring their health. He points out that a quarter of people in the UK over the age of 70 will require lengthy healthcare.

“It’s a subject that people don’t like to think about, but long-term care can be very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds,” he warns. “Lots of people in the UK are sleepwalking into a position where they will not get the level of care they think they should receive from the local authority, so will have to pay for it themselves. That could drain their children’s inheritance. You can take out insurance, but people tend not to do that. The only way, then, to deal with long-term care is effectively to save money.”

Moving swiftly away from the gloomy topic of impending death is Michael Clinton, the longtime president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines. His book, ROAR: Into the Second Half of Your Life was recently published, in September 2021. And two years shy of becoming a septuagenarian, he is accelerating, not pumping the brakes. 

He counters the thinking that people have midlife crises but rather “awakenings”. Clinton explains: “At 50, you know a lot about yourself. Now is the time to tap into your awakened self and move forward. If you are 50 and healthy, you will have a pretty good shot of living to be 90. That will mean second and third careers, new relationships and lifestyles. Suddenly, people are saying: ‘I don’t want to retire; I want to rewire. I want to wind up, not wind down.’”

“Retirement is no longer seen as a binary outcome – namely, you don’t stop working when you retire now,” Scott says. “Retirement used to be like a cold shower, and now people want more of a warm bath. Supposed retirees often work part time with their existing employer or start up something themselves. Also, within two years of retiring, one in five people ‘un-retire’.”

He concludes by predicting the demise of retirement. “If you think about the 100-year life, there must be a movement away from a three-stage life – education, work, retirement – to a multistage life.” Scott adds: “Before long, we will reach the point where the concept of retirement itself – if you define it as the permanent cessation of work – will be retired.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s Wealth & Asset Management report in May 2022

Tech troubles, urgency bias, bad communication: Hybrid working’s biggest hurdles

New data confirms what most already suspected: hybrid working is not working for a large majority of companies. 

The XpertHR research, gathered from 292 U.K. organizations with a combined workforce of over 350,000 employees, revealed that 95% of companies have struggled to implement a hybrid-working strategy. Reluctant returners – staff who don’t want to head back to the office – are the primary reason for failure. However, there are plenty of other causes besides.

The data indicated that 59% of organizations’ staff spend two or three days in the office, but 37% of employers are unhappy and would rather spend less time there. This finding echoed results from Slack’s Q2 global Future Forum study, which questioned 10,000 knowledge workers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany and Japan on how they feel about their work environments and employers.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.