Inquisiq Blog

Strategies for Developing Human Potential When the Future Is Fluid

As the two-year mark of the COVID pandemic approaches, the conversation has shifted away from a goal of “getting back to normal.” Instead, organizations are designing and implementing optimal work strategies for their unique situations.

About 85% of organizations—including Acendre—are operating in a hybrid work environment. And they’re discovering that the best approach is to stay fluid.

In a recent webinar, “Developing Potential: The Future of Engagement and Learning,” our CEO Otto Berkes spoke with Claude Werder, Senior VP and Principal HCM Analyst for the Brandon Hall Group, about the changing work environment and its impacts on employee engagement, recruitment, and learning.

“We are very much in the ‘continuously adapting’ mode,” Berkes said. “Some people think having fluid plans means not having a plan—but the current challenges in this environment force us to think of what it means to have an optimal strategy.”

In Acendre’s case, being in the software business means that having a physical location isn’t a requirement. But staying in touch throughout the workday is. “Technology is an incredible tool for keeping us together as a cohesive organization,” Berkes said. “How we’re working today wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago.”

Another requirement is hiring top talent in a very competitive space. In this, Acendre is squarely in line with Brandon Hall’s predictions of the biggest challenges in the next 6-12 months:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Talent retention
  • Employee engagement
  • Leader development
  • Upskilling/reskilling
  • Team development
  • Career development
  • Workforce planning

Adapting for a more fluid future

“The first step is to start letting go of traditional processes that have been baked into organizations’ way of doing things,” Berkes said. For example, traditional recruitment has been a transactional conversation about the job specs. Going forward, Berkes believes employers will need to provide value and mutual fit—which requires a bi-directional dialogue.

To successfully recruit workers, Berkes said, companies have to be very clear about why someone should join them, what their mission is, and how individuals can contribute to it now and in the future. “The whole point of talent acquisition is talent retention—because that’s how you get the contribution you’re looking for,” he said.

Another conventional approach that businesses often take is to upgrade technology for in-the-moment needs like expanding virtual work. However, when employers focus on improving their organizational culture first and then apply technological tools to those changes, they’re better able to tailor the right tech to the right problem, Berkes said.

He advises leaders against moving to an action stage before completing an analysis of their company’s current state and envisioning the future state they want to achieve. “You’re not going to be able to get to your ideal state in one step, so pick the things you want to start with and accomplish those initial objectives before moving on,” he said. “You need to be incredibly pragmatic about this path.”

Creating a culture of collaboration through engagement and learning

A culture of collaboration doesn’t just happen. Companies need to create the right culture and structures—including opportunities for learning.

“Creating a culture where employees go outside of their ‘normal scope of work’ and are given multiple opportunities to take risks and learn—and specifically learning that isn’t entirely within the scope of their current work but could be adjacent to it—is fantastic for employees and for organizations,” Berkes said.

This learning doesn’t need to be a formal training. “Learning takes many forms and shapes,” he said. “The bulk of my learning in my career as a software developer has been self learning.”

Thriving in today’s dynamic world

Research from the Brandon Hall Group shows that companies believe these are the most important business strategies for 2022:

  • Retaining top talent
  • Driving innovation
  • Improving customer experience
  • Creating the right organizational culture

“These four strategies are a natural consequence of getting the fundamentals right,” Berkes said. “But just because it’s simple to describe doesn’t mean it’s easy.” For instance, retaining top talent starts with expanding the scope of onboarding to focus on what really matters: “an engaged, happy, productive employee who fits into the organization and is happy to be a part of it.” Traditionally, organizations have hired employees who help them grow. It’s time to make that a mutual goal.

Finally, Berkes reminded participants that taking a break from work is incredibly important for productivity. Health and wellness matter—and providing support around them should be one of the strategies for the future at every organization.

Watch the full webinar or talk with us about learning experiences that can help your company implement optimal work strategies.

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