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Is Work working for us?

How to design work that attracts and retains talent.

How to design work that attracts and retains talent

As the western world slowly emerges from the pandemic lock-down, it is becoming increasingly clear that work is not working anymore for many people at the moment. This is evidenced by vacancies being at an all-time high, resignations increasing and many experienced and talented people deciding to quit the rat-race and pursue side-bar passion projects.

Couple this with the newly emerging, digitally enabled talent pouring out of our Universities who simply do not expect to work for one organisation for too long, this leaves big organisations with a real conundrum.

In truth the symptoms of work, as it is currently designed, not being what many people want have been around long before the pandemic. Reducing engagement scores; increasing work related stress statistics; increasing numbers of people leaving the workforce; and steadily increasing side-bar hobby businesses are all indicators that have been around for a while now.

Designing work people want to do

How can employers design work that people actually want to do? If we look at the most powerful predictors of employee retention, performance and engagement they are:

  • Was I excited to work every day last week?
  • Do I have a chance to use my strengths every day?
  • Do I get a chance to do what I love doing?
  • Am I doing things I am actually good at?

The leaders challenge is nothing short of a mind-set shift as they have to start to think about what people love doing, rather than what job roles need them to do. New rules are beginning to emerge that shake the prevailing paradigm on how we employ people. This shift can be quite stark:

  • From: Organisations exist primarily to optimise Stakeholder value.
  • To: Your people’s passion is where the real value lies. Love of work is a powerful amplifier of performance and there is hidden potential in designing work to tap the passion people have.
  • From: Granular job descriptions; cookie-cutter grading systems; competency grids; regular tick-box appraisals; etc. All hardwired into your organisation will somehow drive your people’s performance.
  • To: One size fits one person. Design roles that are carefully tailored to match people’s core proclivities and their passion. A little goes a long way, if 20% of everyone’s work is loved by your people their loyalty and performance will dramatically improve. Find out what they love doing and design work around this.
  • From: We need to micro-manage, track activity and endlessly report progress of tasks.
  • To: In trust we grow! You have recruited the most sophisticated and advanced asset your organisation has. Show what value is needed and rigorously align with what your people love doing and then get out of the way and let them deliver.

In short, It’s all about your people! Your employees are the integrators of all other stakeholder value, and it is they who will determine how successful you are.

Next Steps

For further insights around this topic check out The Human Contract  or contact me to start a conversation.