Top Trends And Takeouts From The WOWHR Global Conference 

COVID-19 has fast-tracked the pace and dynamics of how we work, presenting with it a new wave of challenges and opportunities for business leaders and HR managers in leading the workforce and helping them adapt quickly to new and improved ways of working. Engage for Success volunteers Binu Jacob and Stephanie Ball recently joined 700+ delegates from 3 continents, 20 countries and 6 renowned global HR gurus – albeit virtually and from their own corners of the world – tuning in to a day packed with insights and learnings about the future world of work. Here’s what they discovered:

Driving innovation and culture change post pandemic

As two-thirds of the world’s workforce prepares to come out of lockdown, there is a huge responsibility on organisations to integrate their people, businesses and the environment during the pandemic and beyond. Organisational culture expert Dr. Jaclyn Lee says now is the time for leaders and HR managers to lead this change. In her presentation, she highlighted the following key trends and areas of growth that will drive innovation and culture change within organisations:

Engagement surveys: Regular pulse surveys conducted on a quarterly or bi-monthly basis will replace annual/ bi-annual engagement or employee satisfaction surveys. This will help organisations keep up with the rapidly evolving work environment including employee well-being and connectedness – especially as more people now work from home.

Performance appraisal: Employers are likely to trim their workforce to maximise performance and efficiency, and people will be measured by results produced and not by time spent working.

Digital change management: With more people working remotely, crowdsourcing platforms will take centre stage for problem-solving and sharing of ideas. Organisational listening and a bottom-up approach will evolve and gain prominence over dictating guidelines and instructions, as businesses embrace the collective intelligence of their people.

Talent: Companies will no longer be limited to relying on the talent available within the organisation. Hiring contractors, gig workers and resources available via crowdsourced platforms will be the new norm, with specialised skills being outsourced at a fraction of the cost.

Leadership: Trust will be a very essential part of the mindset change in leaders as more employees work remotely and are not likely to be micro-managed. This means that managers’ leadership styles will need to evolve from being bosses to that of mentors and coaches for their teams.

Skills: Up-skilling in culture transformation, data analytics, digital marketing, HR business partnering and leadership will become important in helping business leaders navigate the new waves of change.

Dr. Jaclyn Lee holds a Ph.D. in Information Systems and Culture Transformation and is the CHRO of Singapore University of Tech & Design. She is the author of the bestseller Accelerating Organisation Culture Change. Visit http://jaclynlee.sg  for more information about her tutorials, insights and bestsellers.

Five leadership styles for organisational success

David Yang’s presentation explained that every organisation is a unique combination of these five leadership styles: Dominant, Innovator, Integrator, Protector and the Expert. David says that lasting success and business efficiency can be achieved by harmoniously combining them in the right proportion. Echoing Jacklyn’s thoughts, David stresses that these five leadership styles are important in creating a culture of collective intelligence and openness – attributes that are critical in laying the foundations of long lasting business success, especially as more teams work remotely.

At Yva.ai, a new generation Employee Experience and Collaboration Analytics Platform, David and his team developed an AI tool that can help determine employees’ leadership styles remotely, simply by analysing the workplace collaboration tools they use. He said that applying organisational network analytics technologies can influence organisational culture through the correction of work processes, and help optimise teams by also improving their well-being, engagement and productivity.

David Yang is the Co-founder of the AI tool Yva.ai. He has authored patents and scientific studies and acknowledged as a technology pioneer at the World Economic Forum. Visit www.yva.ai to find out more about David Yang and further insights about real-time predictive analytics platforms that improve retention rates and business performance.

New skills and mindsets for leaders and HR teams of the future

Can you imagine a world where HR takes the lead to be radically different in meeting the current and future needs of global businesses? Lucy Adams’ presentation introduced the radically different EACH model: the need to treat Employees as Adults, Consumers and Humans.

Employees as Adults: Today, most organisations are incredibly parental, either excessively caring or overly critical doling out numerous policies, guidelines and rules, which, according to Lucy, can lead to a lack of agility and innovation within organisations. Employees need to have enough freedom within the business framework to allow them  to make their own decisions, prepare them to take calculated risks, try something new and embrace change. “Adulting” can be anything from empowering employees to own the way they work, to decisions around dressing for their day, to leading their performance conversations, or owning and running their own inductions.

Employees as Consumers: Employees as consumers have different needs, wants, and preferences. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work whether it’s for reward or performance management or their learning and development needs. Lucy suggests that organisations should draw lessons from consumer marketing aiming to change perceptions, change behaviours and increase brand loyalties. Like Jaclyn, she highlighted the need to conduct frequent pulse surveys and less annual engagement surveys to achieve this consumer-like connectedness.

Employees as Humans: Current HR processes are not designed keeping the human being in mind – how they feel, think, behave and what motivates them. According to Lucy, more companies will be moving away from formal performance management processes to informal, undocumented and frequent check-ins with their people based on the need for such conversations. Businesses will get rid of performance ratings and timetables to focus more on human-centered conversations.

Lucy Adams is the CEO of Disruptive HR helping HR specialists from all over the world to implement innovations and develop employees. She was the HR Director at the BBC and has authored the bestseller HR Disrupted. Visit www.disruptivehr.club to join the HR club (Use code DHRCLUB10 for a discounted membership and gain access to 600+ resources)

Leading the way in workplace culture transformation

Dr. Linda Sharkey, an expert in workplace transformations, stressed on six factors that organisations should consider and implement in order to re-build successfully following Covid-19: Leadership, Culture, Purpose, Relationships, Inclusion and Technology. Of these, she emphasised Leadership and Culture as being the hallmarks of great organisations – a point also highlighted in David Yang’s presentation.

According to Linda, organisations that focus on leadership are more likely to be values-driven. When the leadership lives and leads by company values, it has a trickledown effect that results in a positive customer experience, and which also enables employees to embody those values. Linda also insists that leadership – whether good or bad – drives the culture of an organisation. In times of change, people need goals, direction and clarity. When leadership promotes an entrepreneurial, collaborative, and innovative culture, that organisation will have the foresight and tools to identify global trends more quickly and come up with creative solutions.

Dr. Linda Sharkey co-authored the book Winning With Transglobal Leadership and was named one of 2013’s top 30 best business books. Visit www.lindasharkey.com to learn more about her global experience and organisational philosophies, order her best-selling books, or listen to her podcast.

Delivering value through HR transformation

When the father of modern HR, Dr. Dave Ulrich, asked conference attendees “what’s the most important thing that Human Resources can give employees?”, most would have probably thought of answers like “a fulfilling workplace” or “purpose” or “an open and supportive culture.”

However, according to Dave, the most important thing that HR can give employees is “an organisation that succeeds in the marketplace.” He stresses that if the focus is only on caring about people and not the marketplace, there will no longer be any people left to care about.

Dave also underlined the need to not lose sight of the organisation’s core purpose. For instance, organisations often use data to assess employee engagement, but if the data is not connected to business results, the data doesn’t matter. Yes, employee wellness is a key element to organisational success, but only if business results are the anchor of the organisation’s goal.

Dr. Dave Ulrich is known as “the father of modern HR” and the “HR thought leader of the decade.” He has published more than 30 books on organisation, leadership and HR. For more information, or to contact Dave Ulrich, visit https://www.rbl.net/about-us/consultants/dave-ulrich.

Resetting HR priorities during a crisis

During a crisis it can be challenging to prioritise information when there are so many different resources and articles related to organisational success; what’s important? What’s worth considering? Global industry analyst Josh Bersin was the final presenter at the conference, and he offered up four key elements that should be on every leaders’ radar during this pandemic:

  • Keep learning: If you’re not continuously learning in HR, you’re probably not keeping up.
  • Provide clarity: Be sure to have policies and guidelines in place for your employees.
  • Have a shared sense of awareness: HR can’t operate in silos anymore, it’s not possible.
  • Focus on resilience: According to a recent MetLife survey, the #1 issue among employees right now is fatigue.

Like the other presenters, Josh is certain this pandemic is not a temporary problem, and that leaders and HR professionals need to embrace the full spectrum of transformation to future-proof their businesses. He recommends that leaders and organisations continue striving to stay adaptable, innovative and creative, and to not rely solely on books and seminars for solutions.

Josh Bersin is a Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. To follow Josh Bersin and read his latest articles, visit his website: https://joshbersin.com/

Co-authored by Binu Jacob and Stephanie Ball

Photo credit: WOWHR Global

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