The generation #MixUp

Digital Perspectives

New Views. Applied Now.

April 24, 2018
The generation #MixUp
By: Keith Joughin

In recent years, the future of the workforce has shifted from being seen primarily as an HR topic, to top the strategic agendas of almost every organisation. The subject was at the forefront of the conversation at Davos earlier this year, for example, and it now feels that any conversation around digital disruption must be accompanied by a narrative around the future workforce.

However, for me, this narrative can at times feel very theoretical. Moreover, given the additional complexities associated with public service organisations, I feel that we need to adopt a specific lens to analyse the associated impacts and opportunities in this unique context. In particular, while there are significant opportunities to drive productivity gains, increase capability and build agility for our public sector clients through workforce modernisation, public sector bodies also need to consider societal benefit and mitigate the effects of operating in ever-changing departments.

The time to address this isn’t in the future. It’s now.

I’m planning a series of short blogs, which aim to explore some key workforce themes relevant for our Public Service clients. This is meant as a conversation starter and to provoke discussion and debate.

As much as the ‘Baby Boomer’, ‘Generation X’ and ‘Y’ and now the ‘Generation Z’ labelling is quite fun, I think that in its simplicity, it misses a key point – that we are all individuals and cannot be easily categorised. The picture of a young boy reading a broadsheet paper and the elderly man on the laptop sums this up well.

Challenge: We need to think about how we can create a positive, meaningful and relatively personalised employee experience for all public-sector workers.

In the UK, 70% of graduates feel ‘under-employed’. While they’re willing and passionate to work, graduates are also looking for the ‘me’ experience; to feel valued with their passions acknowledged and their career paths varied and customised. Similarly, my experience is that often the narrative for the older generation around digital disruption has been negative. The fact it that we need to enhance the employee experience for all workers, regardless of their digital categorisation.

Ideas & Considerations:

  • Moments that Matter: use analytics, survey data and social listening to understand the professional and personal moments that matter to different parts of the workforce, and then, using design thinking methods, personalise the ‘Employee Experience’ offerings (including where and how work is performed). Choice is a key principle of the design.

  • Professional Development: turn ‘performance management’ processes into ‘professional development’ conversations, with the focus on the individual’s experience and opportunities for continuous development.

  • Gig Experience: allow for more lateral movement between teams, to enable people to follow multiple career paths and build their experiential learning.

  • Workplace Learning: create a culture of workplace learning, where people are growing through digital, bite-sized learning content that they access as part of their regular work routine, rather than seeing learning as sporadic ‘classroom training’ events. Any formal learning should be supported by coaching and resources to enable continuous learning.

  • Play to Strengths: individuals and teams need to understand and play to their strengths (using the likes of Gallup or Myers-Briggs). Driving the usage of such analysis can help teams and departments more effectively work together, leaders to allocate work and departmentally develop a culture which embraces the diversity of strengths and ignites the very passion, that made people join the civil service in the first place.

Tune in again next time, where I’ll take a look at the many skirmishes that make up today’s war for talent.

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