Each month, Mercer brings together in-house experts, employee advocates and external thought leaders for an online discussion of the most pressing issues. 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 some of what we believe are the best solutions to help organizations thrive. Below is a summary of our May 2022 tweet chat, highlighting some of the key themes discussed and insights shared.
Sorry, robots. The future of work is all about people. That’s what the overwhelming majority of both employees and business leaders think, and you can see it playing out on the markets among top performing organizations around the world.
Becoming more human isn’t about moving away for technology and digital solutions. It’s about building programs and relationships with your employees, shareholders, and stakeholders that reflect an understanding that people matter and sometimes the bottom line is not the bottom line.
This can be scary for some business leaders to hear, if only because it flies in the face of decades – if not centuries – of corporate behavior that have deemphasized the human side of work in the ruthless pursuit of results.
So to help demystify the pursuit of more relatable, sustainable and people-shaped organizations, we asked some of the world’s leading voices on organizational transformation and people strategy to join us in a discussion of the future of work. Below are highlights from our conversation, as well as 3 things that relatable organizations prioritize over most.
No organization can become more relatable by chance. It’s vital that business and people leaders design and develop the strategies, programs and policies that make them more human and attractive to their employees, clients and communities. This means that businesses should be mindful in designing the employee experience at their organizations, and HR has an outsized role in driving this discussion.
All organizations are inherently human, as Kathleen Kruse shared, and are simply the summation of decisions their leaders have made along the way. So to design a more human one, leaders simply need to reframe their thinking to put people at the center. This comes down to the user experience that Walter Jennings alluded to, and leaders should begin mapping experiences to flag pain points. Melissa Swift shared this same sentiment when she observed that thoughtfully engineer work is a hallmark of human organizations, as it reveals that leaders are considering where they’re expending resources and directing their people to where they can offer the most value.
At the same time, employers shouldn’t expect their people to recognize and appreciate all this work. As Brian Kropp noted, employees don’t (and shouldn’t) think about all the ways an employer supports them. Like any good design, a great employee experience should be seamless, and the result is an organization that attracts talent, like Chris Edmonds shared, all on its own.
Human centric indicator is always user experience - what are all the touch points, and how did you feel at each stage. These can be mapped and understood - and made better. Design for experience and put the human in the centre.— Walter Jennings
I look for one key thing: thoughtfully engineered work. Is work de-intensified, well understood, and non-performative... right pace and resources, your boss "gets" what you do, and it's all real work, nothing for show?— Melissa Swift
Employees don't think about the different ways that their employer supports them in isolation. By focusing on well-being we are framing it around how employees think about, rather than how our programs are designed— Brian Kropp
At its core, every organization is human. People are the oxygen that breathes life into any vision, mission + purpose. Employers that see, hear + respect employees as people first enjoy less turnover, more productivity, healthier financial performance + more— Kathleen Kruse
When leaders create org’s that ensure all employees experience inclusion, involvement, and influence over their work and their workplace, the word gets out - and players flock to join those org’s.— S Chris Edmonds
Benefits and wellness programs are transforming at the speed of light, but in many ways they’re just catching up with what people need. While healthcare and leave programs were once the bedrock of an employee benefits package, they’re now just the foundation of what talent expects from their employer.
While this may be daunting, it’s also an enormous opportunity. As Angela Maiers pointed out, companies that can differentiate themselves as the most people-focused will find success in a more competitive labor market, so there’s real advantage to being people first.
To put this into practice, employers need to understand that the era of one-size-fits-all is behind us, and instead they need to offer the flexibility and agility to make their employment value proposition as attractive as possible to as many people as they can. So while tailored or customizable benefits may be appealing to some, Tamara McCleary shared that employers may be better served by simply giving people greater flexibility to pursue what matters to them. This notion of work-life integration may sound like corporate buzzwords to some, but as Janet Schijns pointed out it’s actually a vital tool for eliminating burnout and other mental health concerns that are so widespread in the post-pandemic era.
Ultimately, it rests with every employer to identify what their employees really need, but they’d be well served to remember the tip that Robin Schooling shared during our chat: be sure to think about your whole workforce when developing benefits and wellbeing programs!
The companies that will succeed and differentiate themselves from the rest will be ones that have extreme humanism as their focus.— Angela Maiers
Giving employees options with their benefits which are more tailored is a great first option. But also reconsider what is a benefit and what do employees most want? Perhaps flex schedules are the most important for someone vs tangible benefits— Tamara McCleary
Work-life integration is just a fancy rewording of work-life balance unless companies take action to eliminate the burnout culture they have forced on people the past few years. It starts with stopping the round the clock demands.— Janet Schijns
Top tip: ALL employees deserve comparable flexibility and understanding. This is NOT merely for folks at desks/leaders, white-collar, etc— Robin Schooling
If becoming more “relatable” and “human” sounds a little nebulous, it might be because you don’t know which way to start. For that, organizations should look to their purpose, which at the end of the day will guide and direct every decision they make.
If you’re still looking for your purpose, our panelist had some great suggestions on where to start looking. The first – and perhaps most important – is from within. Ask your people, as Amisha Gandhi suggested, and let them help guide your transformation. In the end they’re likely to be the most impacted after all. Kate Bravery observed that when Mercer conducted their survey of employees, the overwhelming majority shared that what they’re looking for is balance and the opportunity to create something meaningful with their employer. Smart organizations will act on this by looking to improve the lives of their employees, contractors and customers, in Mark Babbitt’s words, and in doing so can find their purpose in Cecilia Giordano’s fusion of empathy and economics along the way.
Reimagine work-life alongside your employees. Ask, listen and then act upon the feedback you receive from your employees. Build it together and foster an environment of growth/purpose and you will succeed.— Amisha Gandhi
When we asked employees what they saw as the future of work. The overwhelming answer was a future that is more Balanced - where they can earn, learn and even laugh together— Kate Bravery
Another key indicator: The organization knows and lives a servant purpose—they focus not just on making money but how they improve the lives of their employees, contractors and customers.— Mark Babbitt
The only way to connect, recognize and feel part of team within a culture is through the lent of human being fusing empathy and economic— Cecilia Giordano