#MercerChats Rewind: Redesigning the Work Experience in the Future of Work

#MercerChats Rewind: Redesigning the Work Experience in the Future of Work

Each month, Mercer brings together in-house experts and external thought leaders, subject matter experts and influencers for an online discussion of the most pressing issues in the future of work and health. The program is called #MercerChats and takes place entirely on Twitter, where individuals around the world engage with Mercer’s intellectual capital and other leading thought leadership to share insights and discuss the best solutions to help organizations thrive. Below is a summary of our July 2019 tweet chat, highlighting some of the key themes discussed and the best insights shared.

Disruption is not destruction. Why? Because as the old ways are pushed aside, new solutions take their place. But these solutions do not just happen. They don’t emerge, fully conceived and realized. They’re built.

Today’s leading voices in organizational design and people management recognize this better than anyone, and that’s because they’re the builders. They know that the next era of HR and people strategy isn’t about adjusting for inflation or vacation days. It’s about rethinking the work experience to create a new paradigm for the future of work.

We at Mercer are fascinated by this rebuilding project, and we’ve done our own investigations into the best solutions for the future of work. Kate Bravery, Leader of Mercer’s global Talent practice, suggests that “the future of work is about connectivity, creating a work environment that appeals to today’s workforce,” but what constitutes a modern workforce? In our Global Talent Trends Study research, we found that 76% of executives expect contingent and freelance workers will substantially replace fulltime employment, which suggests major changes to what we think of as work.

We wanted to look beyond our walls to see what the wider world thinks about the new parameters of the work experience of tomorrow. The results? That the employee value proposition (EVP) of tomorrow is a whole lot different than that of today. If you want to design a future-focused work experience, here’s what you need to bear in mind:

Put People First

Some of the most important lessons for the future of work are also the simplest, but it’s easy to lose track of your priorities when you’re dealing with today’s pace of change. Even so, tomorrow’s successful organizations will remember that talent is their most important asset, and talent means people.

This means putting the “human” back in human resources. Whether it’s a deeply rooted and realized commitment to diversity and inclusion or a flexible and empathetic benefits program, employees want to feel understood, recognized and supported in the future of work. Sound like I’m catering to Millennials? Well, maybe. But they’re not the only ones who feel this way. Even though they’re aging, Baby Boomers aren’t dropping out of the workforce, meaning HR needs solutions for older employees. And benefits? They’re quickly moving from secondary consideration to primary concern of many in the talent pool. Employers with stingy packages may find themselves fighting brain drain.

What does all this mean? That it’s time for a perspective shift. The customer may always be right, but your employees should always be your focus. 





Accept that All Roads Don’t Lead to You, but Always Offer a Destination

It’s true that career paths aren’t as defined as they once were (no one’s sticking around for a gold watch on their 50th anniversary), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in people. As Ian Knowlson pointed out, the widely held perception that Millennials are a flight risk hasn’t borne out. Our 2019 Global Talent Trends study shows that employees (even younger ones) value the same things they always have: compensation and opportunity for advancement.

This means HR can’t lose faith in the face of a turbulent talent pool and rapidly shifting skills landscape. With career counseling and job matching, employers can hang on to the talented people that they do have and create an appealing destination for those they don’t. Even more so, organizations need to remember that temporary employees and gig workers aren’t always temporary. Create a greener grass and these highly skilled and highly sought-after individuals can become invaluable pillars of your organization – regardless of whether they ever jump the fence and sign on full-time. 




Build a talent ecosystem, not a talent sink.

Your industry is likely changing faster than you can imagine. Automotive to healthcare, finance to energy, it’s frankly impossible to know the talent demands of the future. Once you come to terms with the unknown, it becomes clear that you need to build for it. This means doing away with the notion of “I need to hire [skill set X] to do [job Y]” and embracing “I need to attract the best people, because I need to be prepared.”

To do so, employers should consider their organization a talent ecosystem: a petri dish for the careers and talented individuals you’ll want in the future of work. As our Innovation-Driven Tech Workplace research revealed, this type of laboratory mindset and fail-fast mentality is core to the success of some of today’s most disruptive employers, and the same principles can carry you in the future of work. In essence, don’t build for what you have. Build the best you can, and let them build for you.   


Danielle Guzman
by Danielle Guzman

Global Head of Social Media