Article: Shaping the future workplace: Strategies for navigating change

Employee Relations

Shaping the future workplace: Strategies for navigating change

In an era marked by constant disruption, HR leaders must adapt by embracing digitalisation, fostering innovation and prioritising employee experience. New HR skills will empower change accelerators to drive growth and resilience.
Shaping the future workplace: Strategies for navigating change

In a world where disruption is the norm, organisations face an onslaught of challenges ranging from geopolitical shifts to rapid technological advancements. The landscape of work is evolving at an unprecedented pace, leaving executives grappling with the need to adapt and innovate.

At a recent roundtable conference organised by WTW and People Matters in Singapore, hosted by Mint Kang, Senior Editor at People Matters Global, Suzanne McAndrew, Global Leader of Employee Experience Business at WTW, took the stage as the keynote speaker. The address centred on "Shaping the Future Workplace: Strategies for Navigating Change.

Reinventing HR leadership for the future

One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion was the pivotal role of HR leaders in shaping the future of work. As Suzanne McAndrew, Global Leader of Employee Experience Business at WTW, highlighted, HR leaders are at the intersection of solving complex challenges related to upskilling, workforce flexibility, wellbeing and organisational culture. 

To thrive in this dynamic environment, HR leaders must embrace the notion of "hitting refresh" and reframe their purpose to meet the demands of the digital age. The speaker quoted Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, "Every person, organisation, and even society reaches a point at which they owe it themselves to hit refresh—to re-energise, renew, reframe, and rethink their purpose."

Suzanne added that culture is also crucial, especially during times of change and mergers in organisations. As companies work to stay competitive, they often refresh and integrate their cultures. Successful cultural integration is vital to make sure new and existing cultural elements work well together. This also brings out regional and global cultural differences, requiring a strategy to align these into a strong, unified culture.

The keynote underscored the importance of equipping chief people officers with new skills such as power, organisational agility and decision science. As organisations grapple with the rise of AI and digitalisation, HR leaders must push boundaries and collaborate across departments to drive perpetual work reinvention. 

Moreover, the emphasis on unleashing digitalisation within the HR function highlights the need for HR professionals to leverage technology to reduce costs and increase productivity.

HR leaders must focus on creating a culture of innovation and learning in their organisations. By encouraging continuous learning and development, they can help employees adapt and succeed in the digital age.

Additionally, fostering a culture of experimentation and risk-taking can enable organisations to stay ahead of the curve and drive sustainable growth.

Fostering a culture of employee experience excellence

Another crucial aspect of shaping the future workplace is fostering a culture of employee experience excellence. As organisations strive to attract and retain top talent, they must prioritise the four pillars of employee experience: purpose, people, work and total rewards. By providing employees with a sense of belonging, fostering meaningful interactions with leaders and promoting wellbeing, organisations can drive high performance and engagement.

Suzanne went on to add that it is also essential for top-level leaders to engage in skip-level meetings, involving themselves directly in conversations with employees across various levels. Middle managers should participate in diverse discussions, fostering open communication and a more inclusive organisational culture.

WTW's high-performance Employee Experience framework shares that employees excel with ‘Inspiration’, ‘Trust’, ‘Drive’ and ‘Recognition’. Through research, there were proof points that the framework delivers competitive advantages for organisations.

86% of employees perceive strong support for inclusion and diversity (I&D) from senior leadership within their organisation.

The discussion shed light on the importance of aligning organisational values with employee experience to deliver competitive advantage. As the war for talent intensifies and turnover costs escalate, investing in employee experience is no longer a luxury but a strategic imperative.

To foster a culture of employee experience excellence, organisations must prioritise transparency, communication and collaboration. By involving employees in decision-making processes and soliciting feedback, organisations can create a sense of ownership and empowerment among their workforce.

At organisations that effectively drive change, 87% of employees are satisfied with their involvement in decisions. Engaging employees in the change process fosters a sense of ownership and control.

Additionally, recognising and rewarding employees for their contributions can enhance morale and motivation, driving higher levels of engagement and performance.

Empowering change accelerators for transformation

Lastly, the conference emphasised the role of change accelerators – individuals or organisations who actively drive and facilitate change initiatives, in driving organisational transformation. Employees who embrace change and align with the organisation's vision are instrumental in driving employee engagement and satisfaction.

By fostering transparent communication and clarity of purpose, organisations can cultivate a culture of trust and resilience in times of change. 

The discussion highlighted the correlation between clear vision, employee engagement and satisfaction, with a 17% increase in high-performing employees identified as change accelerators.

As organisations navigate the challenges of the great resignation and heightened competition for talent, empowering change accelerators becomes paramount for driving successful transformations.

To empower change accelerators, organisations must invest in leadership development and communication training. By equipping managers with the skills and tools to effectively communicate change and inspire their teams, organisations can ensure alignment and buy-in throughout the transformation process. Providing opportunities for employee involvement and ownership can foster a sense of commitment and accountability, driving higher levels of engagement and satisfaction.

Embed flexible work in Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

With Singapore tripartite guidelines on flexible work arrangement expected to come into effect from December 2024, Suzanne further shared that employees with the ability to work from home are split on preferences – and those who would like to work remotely see it as a make or break.

HR leaders need to listen to and define what work flexibility is for their companies. An example shared during the discussion was using AI to gather feedback from employees on what flexibility meant and defining that feedback as the company’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This is seen as a core piece in the Employee Experience that factors any change in benefits and organisation transformation.

The way forward: Empower HR to drive sustainable growth 

As organisations confront an ever-changing landscape, shaping the future workplace is imperative. By reinventing HR leadership, fostering a culture of employee experience excellence and empowering change accelerators, organisations can navigate change with confidence and drive sustainable growth. Social wellbeing should be a growing focus for employers, with psychological safety as a key component. Insights shared at the conference serve as a blueprint for thriving in the digital age and emerging as leaders in their respective industries.

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Topics: Employee Relations, Leadership, #EmployeeExperience, #Retention

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