Talent Management Consulting & Executive Coaching Raleigh, NC

Infusing a New Kind of Workplace
For the Future.

Designing Creativity

We’ve all seen the amazingness of what happens when we design creativity in our workplace cultures, but what could it do for an entire country?

Imagine what a creatively confident country could do.  What would it look like?

Paul Bennett and Peter Overlyin in Singapore explain on Channel News Asia in this short video below.

Courtesy of:  Channel News Asia

©2014  All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS is the founder and president of The Infusion Group™.  A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace culture design and future of work to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.  How may we help you? For more information, please click here.

 

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4 Ways to Build a Valuable Employment Deal

Businesses that invest in tomorrow’s opportunities, technologies, and modern workplace cultures are positioning their organization to meet long-term objectives that will help to achieve success for their customers (and 4 Ways to Build a More valuable Employment Dealemployees) in a fast-changing world.

With increasing volatility in the global market, shifting business models and a need for speed, investing in a new employment deal is an imperative as competition for talent intensifies. In a time where lifetime employment deals are nearing the end and flex-work options are ever increasing, it’s time for modern leaders to rethink the employer-employee relationship and forge a new employment deal.

What exactly is a valuable employment deal?

A valuable employment deal is the bi-directional relationship between an employer-employee that defines the partnership.  It identifies the generational expectations between what the employee experience represents and what an employer expects in return.

Sounds straight forward, right?

Crafting a valuable employment deal in a modern world of work is anything but simple.  It requires that you differentiate the deal in a way that drives value to the employer-employee relationship. The differentiation needs to align with your business strategy. If your company strives to lead the market or your industry, driving a high value employment deal should look differently than your competitor.  It also requires greater authenticity and transparency in the relationship rather than a transactional focus on job descriptions, qualifications, and benefits.

Today’s employment deals are paving the way to exciting new developments from work style design, career rotations, mobility, self-learning opportunities, tailored mission tours, continual growth and more.  They are moving away from traditional employment deals where employees rarely discussed true aspirations for fear of being perceived as disloyal and evolving toward overall work/career transformation.

Here are four ways to build a more valuable employment deal for your organization.

#1    Re-Imagine Value

One way to differentiate your employment deal from your competition is to do an outstanding job of defining value.  Identify where your company is today, the business value you create for your customers and employees, and then look ahead into the future.  Reflect on the following:

  • What is your ideal company?
  • How does your organization work?
  • How authentic is your company’s employee experience?

Consider the type of job architecture, experiences, competencies, and technologies you’ll need in the future to really compete.

#2    Re-Imagine the Employee Experience

What is the culmination an individual receives during their interaction with your company throughout the employment life-cycle and career elements (supervisor/manager, colleagues, and work environment, networking, and customer engagement) that impacts their cognitive and experiential needs leading to desired behaviors?

In a modern workplace, individuals come together to serve a mission and accomplish a project.  The composition of these teams often change over time, either due to a management decision to add new team members, trade a subject matter expert or others may choose to go to another team. Regardless of the shift, the principles of trust, mutual investment in people and projects and reciprocity are still relevant.  Business and their customers win when individual employees trust each other enough to prioritize team success over individual achievement. This behavior impacts the employee experience.

When employees win as a team, they achieve individual success and help build a winning culture.

Reflect on the following:

  • What does the human side of your business strategy represent?
  • What are the foundational principals of your company’s employee experience?
  • Do you share customer success stories to help your employees learn about the value of your products and services and how they can choose to increase their contribution?
  • What is the effectiveness of your leadership team?
  • How do you support and grow modern day workers – remote, freelancers, temporaries?
  • Does your employee experience provide mutual benefit?

#3    Re-Imagine the Employment Value Proposition (EVP)

A great EVP consists of several statements that clearly communicate to existing workers and/or a potential candidate, the value of employment with your company. What is the perception of your total rewards and benefits that are received in return for performance at work? How do you support and reward varying levels of performance? To create continuous value, how do you support self learning? What is the impact on customer experience outcomes?

To respond to rapid changes in the marketplace, flexibility is critical.  You can propel a valuable employment deal by energizing employees (and prospective employees) in the way they continually think and work. Offering them choice and control over work style, work space, and ways to share with others. This tenant of flexibility can increase the value of their experience, productivity and effectiveness. How is a healthy balance between work/workload achieved in your company? Are results honored over hours worked?

A great example of a leader who leads with care is David Blake, CEO, Degreed

Learn With Purpose 

Even more important than re-imagining a highly competitive EVP is to ensure the successful implementation and execution throughout the employment life-cycle.  Your enlightened EVP needs to reflect throughout your organization.

How effective is your company’s delivery?

#4  Re-Imagine the Employer Brand

If your employment value proposition has shifted, consider the impact it has on your Employer Brand.  How is your employer brand  regarded in the marketplace? Does it accurately reflect the way your company conducts business with honesty and integrity?

Strong employer branding is about inspiring and adding value to the lives of your employees and customers. It creates an emotional connection to an organization’s purpose and sense of values.

A great example is HireVue, one of the fastest growing leaders in job interview technologies:

hirevue

 

Building a more valuable employment deal may mean increasing the distribution or presence of your deal.

For example, how is your deal delivered through your website, mobile app, physical locations, kiosks, artificial intelligence, agencies, centers of excellence, talent platform, HR, and management teams to serve your workforce beautifully? Does it help in making your brand more accessible?

All of these touch points increase possible connection with your employment deal and employer brand. Why not make it even more valuable?

Final Thoughts

Along with an aligned strategy, building a more valuable employment deal in a changing world of work takes courage and involves an investment of time and engagement from across the business.

To create a new framework and an environment where one’s greatness — their unique talents and expertise can contribute in a meaningful way and grow is the real work of modern leadership. By building a more valuable employment deal, it can help to focus your company’s People agenda, improve acquisition and retention of key talent, create an inspiring employer brand and engage your workforce.

Begin by re-imagining your employment value proposition to ensure it is distinct, compelling, and relevant and serves as a key driver for attracting, developing and deploying talent. Consider how it can be personalized for your existing employees and prospective team members. Expand your employment deal by delivering the message across the entire employee experience and relevant touch points. Ensure you have methods in place to integrate, measure, and adapt your new employment deal throughout your business in order to provide the right return on value.

Creating a bi-directional employment deal that focuses on mutually beneficial relationships, will help your employees to evolve their careers, foster an open- networked workforce, and transform experiences that your customers love.

Want to talk about advancing your priorities further? You can reach us here.  

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™.  A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.

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5 Questions to Keep Remote Worker Relationships Strong

How would you rate the effectiveness of your communication with remote workers throughout your organization?
questionsphotoIf you’re like many companies responding today, you recognize the need for ongoing improvement.

No matter how many miles exist across cultures, generations and time zones; keeping teams connected and productive requires intentional planning and smart execution for a modern world of work.

Communication and collaboration tools are increasingly available on multiple devices – mobile, laptop, desktop, and offer savvy ways to help your teams connect. However, to keep remote relationships healthy, strong, and aligned to business objectives whatever tools and/or devices your organization uses, ask these five questions consistently during your weekly check-ins:

  • How are you improving your remote working skills this week/month? Are you experiencing any challenges?
  • What learning badges have you achieved this week? And/or are you tracking toward your learning goals?
  • How effective has communication between you and your leadership team (project manager, team leader, manager, director and/or VP) been this week? (Effective – Less than effective)
  • What primary goal achievements would you like to share? What are your goals for the coming week?
  • What are we doing well as a remote team? Are there any areas for improvement?

By encouraging direct feedback on a consistent basis from remote workers, you’ll be able to cultivate more connectedness that strengthens relationships beyond the tools and address any challenges that could potentially impact business objectives.

Are there other check-in questions you would add?

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™.  A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.

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Capturing the Art of Disruptive Innovation

How does a small young company beat an industry giant?

Harvard Business Professor, Clayton Christensen explains
in this video about capturing the art of disruptive innovation:

 Where will you find innovation in your workplace?

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.

 

 

Reference:
Harvard Business Review

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Step Up to the Challenge: #ClimbRaleigh

The Fight for Air Climb will be held on Saturday, April 2nd at the Wells Fargo Capital Center in downtown Raleigh.

2015ffa-greetingPhoto

The Fight for Air Climb is one of the key community fundraising events of the American Lung Association. The Climbs are held across the country, giving participants the opportunity to join together with friends, family and co-workers as they climb the stairs of some of the most prominent skyscrapers and buildings all the way to the top! The Climb has been taking place for more than a decade and has raised more than $40 million to support the mission of the American Lung Association.

More than 30,000 participants from across the country came together last year to raise more than $8 million. This year, you can help ALA to reach their goal of $9 million to support research, patient education and advocacy efforts.

If you’d like to support a healthy lifestyle or honor a loved one affected by lung disease, we invite you to join the Raleigh community for the morning challenge that will help to advance lung health research and save more lives!

To Step Up to the Challenge and participate, please click here for more event details and registration.  ClimbRaleigh.org


About The American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization dedicated to saving lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research.

The Lung Association provides support and education for those living with asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and fighting external threats to lung health such as tobacco, air pollution, and more.

For information about additional programs and other focus areas, please visit The Lung Association website.

 

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Bring Your Own Learning To Work

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) made it’s debut in 2009 and has revolutionized many organizations and industries world-wide. It has brought dynamic business advantages for the mobile workforce changing workplace productivity and the customer experience forever.

BYOLThe BYOD momentum is not slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.75 billion by 2020.  Here in the U.S., IDC expects mobile workers to account for nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total U.S. workforce. With mobile workers on the rise and BYOD programs expected to continue impacting organizational productivity, reduce operating costs and capital expenditures, will it be enough to meet strategic business objectives in the future?

BYOD has opened the doors to exciting new pathways of connection, work style preferences and flexibility, but that’s not all. BYOD has also ushered in the next era of learning — learn on the go.

If your intention is to grow market share, improve service delivery and sales velocity, growth-oriented executives need to go beyond BYOD programs and ask a few fundamental questions such as,

  • What is the real value of our organization’s leadership?
  • How is our organization’s true leadership value able to impact the customer (and workplace) experience further?
  • What are the leadership “lids” that may pre-determine our company’s effectiveness in achieving strategic priorities and business advantage?

Why the Value of Leadership Matters

A key principle of leadership reminds us that the true value of leadership, as outlined in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, is a result of the impact it has on every aspect of life. Leadership ability is the lid on one’s potential that helps us to realize our impact and our effectiveness.  As a result, the higher a person’s ability to lead, the higher the lid on a person’s potential. The lower a person’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on a person’s potential and effectiveness on the organization.

In essence, if one’s leadership rates a 9, then effectiveness can never be greater than an 8. If a person’s leadership rates a 3, then effectiveness can never be greater than a 2.

So, as you consider your strategic priorities, it’s important to assess the overall leadership value in order to determine the effectiveness and potential impact on the organization. To power up growth, executives need to understand the degree of development underway so that the “lid” of potential continually rises.

An American Success Story

The Ray Kroc Story is one of the greatest American business stories of all times and provides a wonderful example of true leadership value.
In 1954, a fifty-two-year-old milk-shake machine salesman visited a hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California, that was owned by two brothers named Dick and Maurice McDonald. The small restaurant was experiencing dynamic growth however, curious and inquisitive, Ray Kroc began asking questions and soon envisioned a busting new industry: fast food.

The McDonald brothers excelled in outstanding customer service and restaurant organization which enabled them to achieve great business
success, but they were unable to go any farther.  They were efficient business leaders, but their weaknesses put a lid on their leadership ability to make a larger organization more effective.

In 1955, Ray Kroc had a dynamic vision for the potential of the McDonald’s restaurant. He envisioned a restaurant chain going nationwide in massive markets and soon after made a deal with the McDonald brothers, which later became the McDonald’s Corporation.  Kroc succeeded in expanding the number of restaurants and turned the hamburger chain into a globally recognized enterprise.

Achieving success for your customers is within reach.  In today’s environment, will require a continuous commitment to learning and challenging the status quo.

Bring Your Own Learning (BYOL) offers individuals and organizations new possibilities to increase leadership ability and improve overall effectiveness. BYOL provides numerous business benefits from increased engagement, cataloged learning experiences to leveraged capabilities and careers that can empower a global mobile workforce with evolving market needs.

How can executives enable BYOL and the value of leadership?

The good news is that Millennials define their contribution differently and are continually seeking ways to gain new skills and increase the value of their development plans. Therefore, leaders should:

  • Encourage open dialogue during the interview process and post-hire about learning expectations and objectives
  • Re-think development across the organization by lifting lids that build modern skills, cultivates social learning, expands capabilities and aligns both business objectives with individual career missions
  • Align individual tasks that run parallel with your workflows
  • Hold all contributors (management and workers) accountable for upskilling
  • Redefine learning plans
  • Identify relevant content that can be personalized for you and your contributors to facilitate more on the go learning opportunities
  • Modernize your talent management processes

Taking the appropriate steps now to enable BYOL in the modern workplace can increase the leadership value of your organization while making a positive impact on your customer experience and achieving better business results.

To get more fresh strategies that can help you free potential, accelerate strategic growth and maximize business performance, please call or drop us a note.

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society. @Infusiongrpllc

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Fueled By Purpose

 “Our purpose is the foundation of our leadership and life.” -Unknown

Purpose is central to our life and leadership experience and ensuring it remains fueled is a priority for successful leaders.

manflyingovercityMoving from internal fear experiences to one of challenge, can open the pathway to a new range of possibilities into our daily lives and work environment. Rather than practicing a continual reactive response to fear, you can choose to align your focus to what ignites you and adds meaning to your soul.

What values do you honor?

The most compelling source of purpose can be found in connecting to deeply held values and a reason that go beyond one’s self orientation. Clarity in purpose creates a destination in our lives. When purpose and meaning are activated, it drives our very being. It prompts our desire to focus our collective energies on a specific goal or direction.  When you care deeply, and feel that what you do really matters, it fuels the soul and your very being comes to life.

For many crazy busy leaders who keep a vigilant pace in life, often find themselves challenged in keeping the flame alive.  What ways can you honor your values and keep your purpose fueled?

1.  Listen to the negatives and take swift action to address.

Even eternal optimists need to take the necessary steps to listen to what is being said – in your mind, your physical and emotional health, and in relationships and with those whom you regularly interact with.  Focus yourself to increase the level of listening you do during your waking hours and identify what may need attention.

2.  Set your intentions daily and evaluate your progress.

Learn from the past to design the present and to build the future you imagine.

Abraham Maslow warns, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” So how do you start? You start by realizing your greatness, understanding the undeniable strength, courage and capability that has been gifted to you, but has yet to have been fully unwrapped.

3.  Move forward.

Are you ready to unpack your GREATNESS?  What steps will you take today to become a purpose-driven leader, a purpose-driven workplace?

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society. @Infusiongrpllc

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Becoming One at Work

Reprint from 2011

Each day, millions of people around the globe collaborate using various platforms and devices to share and communicate vital information. Key initiatives and critical challenges move forward due to the unique problem solving, innovating, and collaborating skills that individuals offer. When such skills are combined to meet a common goal or objective, the collective power of the communities that result is immeasurable. The benefits of advanced learning, performance agility, and positive change instill a sense of potential that invigorates those involved.

As the global marketplace continues to expand, designing a workplace environment that can compete as well as collaborate presents new challenges to the traditional leadership mode and future core function of management.

The new workplace has become more than just a group of individuals working well together. They must now work as one within the organization. Committed to a deeper purpose and clear understanding as to why the organization exists, a common vision must be shared by all that is specifically designed to attain the organization’s purpose. The focus on collaboration may challenge the traditional norms, leadership modes, and approaches that were highly effective in the past. Given today’s challenges and a dramatically different workforce ahead, management’s traditional mode may now only work in some circumstances.  For instance, let’s consider Apple’s business model.

Apple is known for dynamically changing the world and industry of telecommunications.  In 2007 innovators launched the infamous iPhone. From that time onward, the world has eagerly awaited the next “i” something to come from the organization now known for its inspiration, creativity and innovation.  The advent of the iPhone produced record breaking sales and resulted in the creation of the App Store for Apple’s loyal followers. Generating revenues through high volume and low cost downloads, the virtual retail mall served to not only disrupt its competitors, it created a community where professionals and freelancers alike could create and design with great ease and convenience. Those apps that reflect Apple’s high standards and become successful downloads have allowed members in the community such as Ethan Nicholas, the inventor of the game iShoot, to gain a sense of freedom and creativity not found in most positions.  Apple’s strategic move disrupted more than the telecommunications industry. It has  disrupted and altered the perceptions of a segment of the future workforce. A unique dimension must now be considered when organizations think of retention and creating opportunities that will lead the organization forward. It calls attention to the need to redesign the workplace of the future.

While creativity and innovation are embraced and celebrated in Apple’s culture, it is understood that there is a code of conduct and protocol that members of the community must adhere to; must operate within certain parameters and restrictions. Unique leadership characteristics and an unwavering commitment to values must be instilled from the top down in order to allow the existence of a community that benefits from so much freedom of creativity and design. It is the collaborative undertone that permeates the culture at Apple that allows for the celebration of individual creativity as well as collective contributions.

The transformational journey and increased accountability for many industries will be a marathon. As leaders,

  • What does it mean to put forth the effort that this new environment is requesting from all of us?
  • What does it mean to grow leadership and model the organizational values of excellence?
  • What does it mean to allow your organization to be transparent, accountable and able?
  • What does it mean to give up smart control?

Time to refocus your culture and shape key priorities toward becoming one?

You can learn more by calling us at 877-628-3873 and explore new approaches towards becoming one.

© 2011  All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™.  A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work strategies and organizational management to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.

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5 Keys To Increasing Customer Satisfaction Through Employee Engagement

If there is one thing that large enterprises have learned over the last decade: they need to constantly evolve and adapt with consumer habits in sociallisteningcustomerjourneyorder to stay viable. The emergence of new technology and the ability for the consumer to have unlimited information at their finger-tips makes maintaining an advantage over your competitors a daunting task.

Similarly, maintaining employee satisfaction can be equally as challenging. Online platforms like Glassdoor make the employee experience transparent for everyone to see. This is especially crucial as millennials start to comprise the majority of our workforce. Millennials now make up one-third of the U.S. workforce¹, according to the Pew Research Center, and with this new generation of workers comes noticeably different goals.

Traditional top-down strategies, methods and tactics on measuring employee engagement needs a reset, just as much as tactics towards customer engagement have shifted over time.

The importance of optimizing employee engagement is immense as millennials are not the only ones changing the world and impacting the workplace. Generation C, the connected customer, is here and the customer experience is on track to outpace product and price strategies by 2020.²  Fostering an environment where people feel connected to the organization and allowing employees to develop is important in employee retention. Innovation is part of daily operations, and while retention has been a place of importance for HR and leaders for decades, it couldn’t be more important now, with the emergence of a new generation dominating the majority of our workforce, changing work infrastructure, and increasing customer interactions across every digital channel.

53% of managers say they have a hard time retaining millennials, and further identifies that 58% of millennials expect to leave their jobs in the next three years, according to a study done by Odesk,

Here are five ways to improve employee engagement at your organization and foster a culture of listening.

Define value for your organization

Every organization differs in its structure and method of communication between workers, managers, senior executives, and customers. In order to expand employee engagement you need to identify the point in your organization where improvements matter.

Do your employees appreciate giving feedback? When leaders receive the feedback do they make alterations accordingly, and do they have the ability to do so fluidly?  More importantly, do they acknowledge the employees feedback in a meaningful way? In order for your employees and leaders to feel like they are contributing to a bigger vision and strategic goal, they need to know that their voices are being heard in some capacity, even if the outcome doesn’t go their way.

Ditch the annual engagement surveys

For an organization to be relevant for the connected consumer and engage a modern workforce, companies must focus on building a listening capacity by creating a single source of truth and making people intelligence accessible throughout the enterprise. Annual surveys may have served a purpose at one time, but often lack the ability to provide real-time intelligence that is crucial in capturing specific feedback along the employee and customer experience. Modern workplaces must consider “people insight” as an engagement enablement function in order to provide  personalized employee experiences to effectively engage, grow, and retain employees and customers.

Real-time feedback is crucial in capturing specific points along the employee experience, just as you would with your customer journey. By listening and capturing feedback during certain touch-points, you can understand shifts in workforce sentiment and place context behind those changes.

A yearly summary is too long a duration of time to identify issues early in a process’s life-cycle. Some campaigns only last a matter of months, making this issue even more important.

Skip reporting mere numbers

Pure metrics are good at looking at overall trends but lack the deeper understanding of the question of “why?” Focus on answering critical business questions. For example,

“What causes our employees to change engagement over time?” and
“What is the impact on customer outcomes?”

Taking a holistic approach is often better at connecting inputs that can deconstruct findings to create real insight on value opportunities and solve business issues rather than reporting mere statistics.

Has your company recently introduced a new software system or has it changed a business process drastically? If a leadership change has taken place have the new leaders re-engaged their diverse workforce with the right consistency? How are flexible resources (contingent, freelancers, temps, etc.) connecting to internal people networks and impacting the customer and workplace experience?

Also consider opportunities of advancement and the potential for employees to expand their role at your organization. Evaluate whether these opportunities exist, and if they don’t, what can you do in order to make them more adaptable to meet the needs of the customer.

By looking at the context of your organization you can readily identify places where your employees are highly engaging or disengaging with their work, and the reasons behind it.

Rethink your Methods

Consider people intelligence by measuring and facilitating employee sensing in real-time rather than a one-time event in an annual employee survey. New tools and sophisticated text analytic engines can provide continuous social listening and are capable of correlating this feedback with the way employee’s engage in their work within your organization’s day-to-day.

Focus action quickly

As you rethink employee engagement, what changes may be required to guide your leaders in how to act on new people intelligence? Having real-time people intelligence is only part of the formula; you need to execute quickly in order to contribute to the customer experience. What structural changes may need to be made within your organization to allow greater ability for leaders to make the appropriate adaptations required to move with the speed of business?

Engagement is of paramount importance for companies looking to succeed in the coming decades. Retraining and onboarding of new employees is costly and time consuming. But it goes far beyond as employee engagement plays a critical factor in illuminating a positive customer experience.

60% of companies see customer service as a top source of differentiation in the next three years, and 71% of businesses are now putting a stronger emphasis on customer service, according to SAP. The results are clear. Employee engagement and the B2C relationship are strong drivers in what makes your business unique and ultimately viable in contemporary markets.

©2016 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management strategies to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses,
and society.

This article was published on CEO.com

Photo credit:  Shutterstock

Sources:

¹ Fry, Richard. “Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force.” Pew Research Center RSS. Pew Research Center, 11 May 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

² Customer 2020: The Future of B-2-B Customer Experience, Walker. Web 21 Dec. 2015.

3 “Millennial Majority Workforce.” Elance-oDesk.com. Elance-oDesk, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <http://elance-odesk.com/millennial-majority-workforce>.

4 “44 Facts Defining the Future of Customer Engagement.” 44 Facts Defining the Future of Customer Engagement. SAP CEC, 6 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

 

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Staying Competitive in the Age of Automation

Say hello to machines that can now read your emotions! Yes, and that’s not all they are getting good at, according to the Wall Street Journal, robots are Robotshuttertaking on more elaborate tasks.¹

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming the lives of many workers in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and hotel industries. The aging workforce is growing and so is the use of robotic health aides. In reality, all industries since the 1990’s have been changed in some way due to software technology. This change is a constant and transcends socio-economic and industrial barriers; however that’s not to say some industries haven’t been more significantly affected by the improvement of AI.

One specific example is the refinement in math-based algorithms that track and predict trends and patterns, such as the algorithms that control high-frequency trades. While some content management systems give us insights into pure statistics, it’s typically left to a human to develop a strategy behind the numbers. This is not true with predictive trading, which in 2010 accounted for over 60 percent of all U.S. equity volume.²

As demonstrated by the stock market, every senior executive and professional needs to be asking what will be the implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning be for our business model, customer experience, employability and future work.

Even the CEO’s job is at risk of automation–a fact that has been verified by the report done by McKinsey&Company. Much of the tasks performed by high-paid professionals like financial planners, physicians, and senior executives can be automated. As much as 20% of a CEO’s working time, such as evaluation of financial reports and operational decision making can be automated by a program.³

As economic developers, executives and leaders take on the critical work of determining how do we reinvent and create high-paying jobs for a new century, management needs to take a proactive approach to reducing the fear and anxiety associated with these significant shifts and ensure they are taking appropriate actions to lead effective dialogue sessions in the workplace and rethink human capital strategy for the new era.

One thing is also certain, modern contributors need to become the CEO of their career. Workers need to take charge of it and constantly cultivate self-learning and development plans to ensure employability in an evolving world of work.

Robots and machines may be eliminating more technical and advanced tasks, but for the present, they do not reflect the same experience that people bring to customer, vendor, team, and investor relationships.

If technology will be able to emote human creativity in the future as author Erik Brynjolfsson predicts in his book The Second Machine Age,⁴ then what skills will modern contributors need to cultivate and maintain a high level of competitiveness for long-term employability?

As indicated in the McKinsey Report, the importance of this evolution isn’t whether or not some jobs tasks can be automated, but rather which portions of your job could and should be automated so you can allocate more time towards things that machines are incapable of doing.

Here are a few things you can do in order to stay competitive in an age of automation.

Extend Empathy

Empathy paves the way for relationship building and collaboration. Many business relationships are highly affected by the bond that employees share with one another. This also transcends to both B2B and B2C relationships. A report done by Econsultancy showed that 78% of respondents thought that a company’s customer service reputation was an important factor going into the decision on whether to purchase a product. 37% say that they expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative.⁵ This interaction, even on the smallest level increases customer satisfaction and retention.

Motivation and leadership are also two emotions that are unique to people as well and can contribute to a happy and engaged workforce. Developing leaders harnesses the human capability to take responsibility and innovate new processes, and cultivates an attitude of contributing to the whole organization for the betterment of others.

Maintain and Promote your Creativity

Things like art, design, and writing can be aided with the use of software technology, but still require a human to develop. For that reason, give your creativity a boost and place a larger emphasis towards igniting your creative side as thoughtful approaches to new problems could be your most valuable asset in the future.

What do you do to maintain and expand your creativity? Listening to music, reading a book, playing an instrument, learning, or taking a class exercises your creative mind and allows you to look at problems or challenges in an objective and unique way.

Trustworthiness and Understanding Human Relationships

In 2013 a Tweet was sent from a hacked account for the Associated Press and caused the S&P 500 to lose 121 billion dollars in value in the matter of minutes.⁶

Many cases have been made against this level of automation, and human brokers who in the past traditionally traded stock brought a level of market stability. The inability for the software to make a determination on early unverified reports caused a catastrophe that would have otherwise been avoided.

Think about how you can increase trustworthiness in your workplace. While a robot may provide accuracy and consistency, it’s impossible for a robot to replicate the kind of trusting relationship you build with your colleagues, partners, and customers when agreements are strengthened and every member can be relied upon to contribute their part in a meaningful way.

Additionally, it’s important to look at the ability for an effective leader to resource human capital on teams that are likely to work productively. This evaluation and understanding can only be achieved by embracing people’s emotions and the relationships that compose a team.

Mobility and Adaptability

Many people are adaptable and in a high-paid profession, this is a crucial asset to have regardless of your career. Programs are limited to their intended function, something that both people and the companies that employ them will set in their programming. An individual’s ability to wear many hats, and easily transition from one task to another make versatility important.

In addition, many companies now run on an omni-channel platform which makes your ability to understand concepts in many different areas increasingly important. Again, while a robot may be good, or even the best, at handling a single task, it is unable to make correlations between things it doesn’t know–which is something a good manager or executive is completely capable of doing. Take every opportunity to expand your knowledge, and when given the opportunity delve into topics you may be unfamiliar, go in head first. Your versatility of knowledge and execution of tasks will make you an important asset in the coming robotic future.

Ignite New Ideas

Motivation and a feeling of community is the strongest asset for some companies. Inventing a new product, or creating a new operational task is very difficult, but that’s not all you can do. The ability to ignite new and innovative ideas in others by promoting healthy discussion and meaningful communication is something that AI is incapable of doing.

This is a fact that’s actually backed up by science. When someone is motivated dopamine is released in their brain and compels them to take action towards their goals.⁷

The fear of technology replacing jobs has been around since the 1930’s when John Maynard Keynes coined the phrase “technological unemployment.”⁸ Since then, jobs have still been available to humans, though we are entering a unique phase of advanced robotics. The key is, and has always been, to leverage your unique skills and attributes in order to develop a skill-set that is high in demand. Taking charge of your personal and professional growth through self-learning and development, especially skills in high-demand areas, will not only strengthen your contribution but increase employability for the future. Instead of looking at automation as a potential stumbling block, consider looking at it as a way to minimize tasks that will one day be deemed less important, and embrace our ability to allocate more time in enhancing what matters in our organizations, relationships.

© 2015 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock

Sources:

¹ Martin, Alexander. “Moore’s Law Will Bring Emotional Machines — SoftBank CEO.” Digits RSS. Wall Street Journal, 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

² Phillips, Matthew. “How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading’s Rise and Fall.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 6 June 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

³ Chui, Michael, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi. “Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation.” Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation. McKinsey&Company, 1 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

⁴ Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. Print.

⁵ Davis, Ben. “Omnichannel Customer Service [stats and Infographics].”Econsultancy.com. Econsultancy, 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

⁶ Farrell, Maureen. “Twitter Flash Crash Fueled by High Speed Trading.”CNNMoney. CNN, 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

⁷ Nguyen, Thai. “Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

⁸ “John Maynard Keynes.” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. http:/www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Keynes.html

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