Welcome to the fifth article in our series for Liftoff, an annual event featuring thought leaders, pioneers, and rebels that are making the world of work better. In this series, we discuss the future of work and organizational culture with these leaders and dive deeper into the evolution of culture, communication and engagement in the workplace.
Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers job search services.
We spoke with Deborah Sim, Sr. Vice President at Robert Half Management Resources, about workplace culture value alignment. Read on to learn more!
What are your predictions for the future of work?
Rapidly advancing technology has some companies scrambling to keep up. However, staying on top of digital disruption isn’t simply a matter of migrating to the cloud, transitioning routine tasks to robotic process automation, or experimenting with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. It’s also about helping today’s employees evolve into tomorrow’s professionals. And a key question on many employers’ minds today is, “What do we need to do to build our workforce of the future?”
In Robert Half’s new report, Jobs and AI Anxiety, we explore the impact of technological innovation on jobs and emphasize the importance of embracing change in order to succeed in the workplace of the future. Here are a few ways technology is predicted to impact work in the future:
- Automation: Job automation is, and has been, shaping how we work. The change that automation brings to jobs, companies and even entire industries can be rapid and wholly disruptive. In other cases, it’s more subtle or slow to take hold. In either situation, it can cause uneasiness. The upside for many professionals is that job automation gives them the opportunity to move away from routine, predictable tasks and focus on more creative, innovative and value-adding projects for the business. To make that shift successfully, workers need to stretch their abilities in new ways. Otherwise, they’ll face a significant job automation risk: becoming irrelevant in an increasingly tech-driven workplace.
- Artificial Intelligence: While AI technology is increasing in sophistication rapidly, there’s still plenty of speculation about how, exactly, it will change the workplace. Will we see a robot revolution where most workers are replaced by smart machines? Or will it be the dawn of a new relationship between people and technology, where AI takes over mundane tasks, freeing people to focus on more creative work? For many workers, their relationship with AI technology will likely look a lot like this, according to the Jobs and AI Anxiety report: AI helpers will quietly handle routine processes, like data entry, in the background. And workers, using their voice and gestures, will instruct their AI helpers to perform tasks such as taking notes, conducting web searches or logging on to their computer in the morning.
- Upskilling: A big part of preparing the workforce of the future is retraining and reskilling your employees. This investment makes good business sense: Providing team members with access to new technologies and the associated training to use them in their jobs can give companies a recruiting, retention and performance boost. Retraining and reskilling is a two-way street, though: Companies can provide support, but employees also must be willing to adapt.
Our research for the Jobs and AI Anxiety report finds that managers in Canada see evolving workers’ tech skills as a collaborative process. Their top response to the survey question, “Whose responsibility is it to help employees gain the skills needed to work with new technologies?” was “Primarily the company’s, but with some help from the employee.” The survey of more than 300 Canadian managers also suggests that many companies recognize the importance of investing in their current employees as a way to build their workforce of the future. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of managers surveyed said they intend to train their current staff to ensure they have the requisite skills to take advantage of new technologies.
How do you ensure job seekers and their values align with those of organizations?
Creating a positive corporate culture is top of mind for employers looking to recruit and retain talent, according to a new study from global staffing firm Robert Half. The research, which surveyed Canadian and U.S. senior managers and professionals, examines why workplace culture is increasingly under the microscope; it’s featured in a report, Organizational Culture: The Make-or-Break Factor in Hiring and Retention. Key findings revealed 40% of workers in Canada wouldn’t accept a job that was a perfect match if the corporate culture clashed. 90% of Canadian managers said a candidate’s fit with the organizational culture is equal to or more important than their skills and experience. While workers in Canada and said their ideal corporate culture is supportive or team-oriented, most described their company as traditional.
Today’s professionals are looking to do more with their careers than satisfy a job description; they want to be part of an organization whose values align with their own and feel inspired with a sense of purpose in the workplace. And they’ll leave if they don’t find it. Turnover in today’s tight hiring market is nothing any employer can afford. The wrong person in the wrong job can also contribute to a decline in staff morale, collaboration and productivity. Whether the new hire is a toxic employee or simply a poor fit for the position and the team, the cost of a bad hire can be surprisingly high. No part of the hiring process should be left to chance. You can take steps to ensure your preferred candidate and your organization’s corporate culture are an ideal match. Here are a few suggestions:
- Describe your corporate culture in the job description. The more complete your job description, the more effective your time will be in assessing not only the more highly qualified candidates but those who believe they would be happy — and successful — in your workplace environment.
- Consider the interview questions you’ll ask to determine whether the applicant’s knowledge and skill level are as impressive as their paperwork suggests, and how successful they would be in your corporate culture.
- When asking the candidate’s references about notable accomplishments, ask how the applicant exceeded objectives and expectations, and imagine how similar situations might play out in your organization
When it comes to people and resource management, how do you keep it ‘human’?
While technology is expected to improve the hiring process, advances in artificial intelligence, for instance, will also allow hiring managers to devote more time to the vital “human” aspects of recruitment, including assessing a candidate’s organizational culture fit. (Robert Half knows the value of using AI in the hiring process firsthand: We leverage AI technology, machine learning and big data to help us make better job matches. We are both high-tech and high-touch). Assessing a candidate’s interpersonal skills, negotiating compensation and persuading candidates to accept a job offer are all examples where human interaction and judgment are crucial — and where AI technology has yet to crack the surface. Over time, well-trained AI may be able to take on some of these tasks, but it’s hard to imagine completely automating the very human process of hiring humans.
What is your best piece of advice for those looking to improve their workplace culture and employee relationships?
Our best piece of advice is for organizations to strive for a happy workforce. Workplace happiness was once viewed as an abstract, touchy-feely, nice-to-have for employers. But today, there’s a powerful case for making employee happiness one of your top organizational priorities. Happy employees are more engaged, more loyal, more creative and more productive than their less satisfied counterparts. And there’s a growing body of research — and a lot of successful companies with happy employees — to attest to that fact. In our research, we found that the top three drivers of workplace happiness across North America are:
1. PRIDE in their organization
2. FEELING APPRECIATED for the work that they do
3. Being treated with FAIRNESS AND RESPECT
These elements can be found in a strong corporate culture that promotes professional development, wellness, work-life balance and more. When trying to define your organizational culture, answering this question can be a helpful starting place: Why do people want to work for our organization? In other words, what makes your workplace culture attractive not only to job seekers but also to the people who already work for you?
This article is provided by Deborah Sim CPA, CA, a Senior Vice President with Robert Half Management Resources in Canada. Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers job search services at roberthalf.ca. For additional career and management advice, visit the Robert Half blog at roberthalf.ca/blog
To learn more about Robert Half, please visit their website, follow them on LinkedIn, and check out their blog. Meet the Robert Half team at Liftoff 2019 and purchase your ticket at https://www.liftoffcon.com/