April 13, 2022
Uncertain times call for different measures and approaches, the old rules and playbooks are no longer applicable – so what are you going to do? Sit around, stagnate, hanker after old solutions trying to manipulate and squeeze them into new, unknowable, untried paradigms? No! One thing human beings are fairly good at is evolving and adapting to new and unknown situations and as we all know, being flexible and accepting change creates resilience and ensures survival.
So how does that translate into the working world and the war on talent, attracting and retaining the best people for an organisation? At the recent Omnirama incubator, our network of participants from a broad range of countries, backgrounds, experiences and age groups gave us insights into their thinking on how to future proof the talent war.
Firstly, the cognitive dissonance within the group sparked broader thinking above and beyond the war on talent topic. It went way beyond the narrow workplace focus of making hybrid work or managing remote working; because everyone took on board that organisations, the people in them and how they work are a microcosm of what is happening in the wider world.
This is very different to current thinking or the usual ‘echo chamber’ of like-minded opinions and reaffirms one of the key aspects of experimentation, hearing different voices and finding commonalities to work on; and this reaffirms one important point – no person or organisation is an island, everything we do impacts and interconnects with everything else.
Through the group exercises we found common ground: that the workplace is interlinked to people and their wellbeing, this impacts society alongside organisational and/or generational hierarchies; this is reflected in organisational/societal values which connect to the environment both urban and natural; and ultimately to what we are doing to the planet.
Another interesting aspect flagged up by the variety of people and nationalities represented was that although we were all working towards common goals, there are cultural differences in approach, and/or accepting and implementing change. Additionally, the role of leaders, both in business but also policymakers is crucial to enable much needed reforms not just in working policies, but also how they influence urban planning, and environmental issues.
The incubator workshop is part of the wider Omnirama experiment; an ongoing, evolving ‘think-tank’ of the people, by the people. Our by-word is sense-making uncertainty and our first incubator which focused on future proofing the war on talent discovered the following key trends within these scenarios:
- People are questioning the top-down mandate from business leaders and the whole concept of hierarchy and presenteeism in the post-pandemic hybrid working era.
- This phenomenon also extends to inter-generational workforces, with the additional factor that older employees are not always the best placed to navigate an increasingly sophisticated technological working environment and younger savvier digital natives are not often given a voice or listened to, in order to help bridge the tech/generational gap.
- Employees want their organisations to align and reflect their values, especially when it comes to environmental, sustainability, diversity and inclusion issues; they have to be authentic and not ‘greenwashing’.
- Wellbeing and health are major factors in the workplace. Health concerns regarding returning to an office is a problem in many parts of the world still under Covid restrictions.
- The waste in every industry which consumes and dissipates so much of the earth’s resources could lead to major natural catastrophes, such as flooding of major cities. Neglecting the environment could lead both to energy and water wars in the future. People must and should be concerned in what part they, their governments or their organisations play in this serious and urgent global problem.
- Future pandemics – we have seen the impact of Covid globally and we are not immune from another serious world-wide health crisis.
- The future of cities and how people interact with them must be re-considered. The future of commuting and the role of public transport services must be considered. Are CBDs still viable in the era of WFH and hybrid working? How is CRE going to cope with enormous changes in how we work and our relationship with the built environment? Are schemes like the ’15-minute city’ the answer to better more humancentric cities?
- The new generation of talent, who are mainly digital natives, will require a different approach with flexibility being key – flexible working is now the new currency, overriding salary in many cases.
- Talent will be liquid and drawn from all over the world, with the rise of digital nomads, who work on a contract basis and are not tethered to place.
- The social contract between employee/employer will have to be revised, especially with the ever-increasing rise of the gig economy.
- Universities will have to adapt to new business demands as the workforce will require more upskilling or changes of direction to meet new job requirements during their working careers
The Omnirama challenge to all those who participated is to continue contributing and developing these trends by co-creating ideas and desirable outcomes in the unbiased scenarios we found common ground in. In order to live up to Omnirama’s goals of being a community, the voice of the crowd, a pioneering laboratory working over silos with people who are aspirational and value driven, we have to join forces to make sense of the prevailing uncertainties of an uncertain world.