Next year is foreseen as a space for adjustments to successfully adapt the world of labor to the changes that global events have brought and continue to bring to us, not just because of the pandemic, but also due to the technological transformation and the generational replacement.
Upon analysis of various reports on the current situation of global talent, it becomes apparent that all of them agree on a key challenge: the humanization of work, specifically in regard to empathy as a characteristic of solid employer brands and good work environments.
This covers empathy in all senses, from understanding the differences that diversity and inclusion entail, a culture that generates psychologically safe work environments and organizational structures designed to improve interactions, to the development of leadership with a greater human impact. These elements mark the challenges for 2023 and, therefore, we must be prepared to evolve toward this multiple challenge.
We will proceed to review four trends that arise from the overall challenge of empathy in the work environment and its impact on business:
» 1. Understanding diversity and inclusion
The first trend has to do with a deep understanding of diversity in the business environment. There has been talk about diversity in companies for many years; nevertheless, its actual implementation entails much more than a declaration of acceptance of the different groups of people, or more campaigns with rainbows.
Diversity entails a deep respect and openness to the way of thinking of the other person and this is probably the highest form of empathy in an organization. We see a successful and interesting example these days in EVPs (Employee Value Propositions), in which companies that are evolving quickly in this aspect are designing real responses to the varying needs of their collaborators and this, in turn, is reflected in the way in which they also understand the need to provide service to their clients in a differentiated manner, generating a virtuous cycle of joint growth.
Living a culture of diversity can truly transform the behavior of people and generate an impressive competitive advantage. “Companies that don’t listen to their employees and other stakeholders and don’t constantly adapt their design will lose the ability to raise capital, attract and retain talent, and remain relevant,” says Ilya Bonic, president of Career practice and Strategy Director of Mercer, in the Global Talent Trends Study 2022 from that Firm.
» 2. The promotion of friendly cultures
The second trend is related to the first but goes much deeper. We are talking about cultures that are empathetic with an amazing characteristic in the context of business: today we are talking about friendship at work.
It is strange to think that this is an innovative concept, but it is: how many times have we heard people in organizations say, “I come here to work, not to make friends”. Today, friendship at work is a fundamental element of connection and retention but, additionally, various studies have shown the relationship between friendship and productivity. Stronger emotional bonds generate a greater motivation for making an effort and for the achievement of objectives, as summarized in the article by Lynda Gratton “Why you should make friends at work”, published by MITSloan management review.
This element thus becomes an important variable today at the moment of designing work teams, especially in agile organizations in which the ability to connect and to interact effectively makes a huge difference in the ability to adapt and, therefore, on the result.
» 3. Rethinking job positions
Having organizations that are empathetic to the development of more liquid businesses is seen as the third trend. Beyond organizational agility, the concept of liquidity in business challenges the manner in which we conceive organizations.
An interesting practice in this sense is called “The Third Space” According to the LLYC-DCH Talent Trends 2022 report, it is a model that involves totally flexible work solutions, where the person is autonomous in terms of the decision of “where to work”. To this end, many organizations are enabling “third-party networks… fully equipped and responsive to the immediate needs of an increasingly dynamic employee.” This entails not only a change in the work environment, but also a different way of conceiving organization charts, responsibilities and processes.
In face of this context, job descriptions are tending to disappear and to evolve toward more comprehensive and empowering concepts, such as decision maps or contact matrixes, more focused on the definition of a framework of action that allows the person to act, develop and potentiate his work according to his own style and in harmony with the particular styles of others. In these environments, culture is built through the prioritization of key behaviors, both those that are accepted and those that are not, respecting differences and encouraging each person to be who he is.
» 4. The redefinition of leadership
The three previous trends create the need for a fourth trend focused on leaders’ skills for managing these more open, diverse and, at the same time, more complex environments for management. A lot has been said about leadership; however, today more than ever, this capacity plays an important role in the possibility of generating better and more sustainable results.
The interesting thing about this fourth trend is that leadership is not only understood as the ability that the person in charge of the team must have, but that it is now understood as a fundamental element of each of its members. Leading in an agile environment, where teams focus on the solutions required by clients, means that all persons understand the purpose of their work and are responsible for making it happen.
Thinking about the old schemes where everything depends on a single head that develops the strategy and distributes the work, it is a concept that is now outdated and, above all, can become a threat to the response speed of an organization.
Given all of the foregoing, 2023 is foreseen as a year of adjustments necessary to be able to successfully adapt the world of labor to the changes that global events have brought and continue to bring to us. It hasn’t been just because of the pandemic, today we also are living spectacular transformations as a result of technology and the participation of new generations in companies. Preparing ourselves for this will be, undoubtedly, fun work.