Let’s begin by telling you what we at BCJ Group truly believe: the pandemic did not drastically change the workplace, it simply sped things up quite a bit. None of the developments that are happening where we work in 2023 are truly new – they are instead continuations of trends that began before the pandemic but are now suddenly right here in front of us, as if someone had hit fast-forward on a remote labelled “The History of Work”.
We should also address the elephant in the room: the threat of a global recession and the impact that may have on staffing. In March of 2023, Nela Richardson, Chief Economist at ADP was quoted saying, “There is a tradeoff in the labor market right now. Were seeing robust hiring, which is good for the economy and workers, but pay growth is still quite elevated.” ADP’s findings reflect BCJ’s field experiences – we are seeing clients planning for a slight increase in visitors and customers, but are not being overly aggressive with their planning.
The news then is that the economy is slowing down in terms of growth but it is still growing. We have moved past the hiring dip from the pandemic, and the so-called Great Resignation may have been localized to certain industries. This means that as far as staffing goes, organizations would be better off applying improved hiring and employee experience strategies while also being prepared for several likely scenarios.
By keeping a strong pipeline of candidates or a robust contingent labor pool, many businesses are able to be agile when it comes to meeting customer needs – whether those are in the form of rapid increases OR decreases.
Another trend that may seem like a rapid change in the workplace dynamic is this new era of employee empowerment. However, this is again nothing new. Successful companies have known for years that treating all employees as if they are valued not only keeps them happy (and aids in retention) but also has a direct, provable link to customer satisfaction levels.
What do Employees & Employers Want?
• Flexible skills
Another area that has not changed, that may come as a surprise, is organizational structure. Organizational charts, depending on your underlying culture, will not look much different to an executive in 2023 as they did in 2013. Although people work in different locations and perhaps have some different motivations, that doesn’t change the need for a company to function in the way that works best for it. Collaborative cultures will still tend to gravitate toward flat structures just as manager-led or compliance cultures will need a more hierarchal system in place. Again, there is no “best organizational structure. It depends on how each organization works best – something that top-performing organizations had become quite aware of before the pandemic. Perhaps the only change was less staff (albeit temporarily), which gave them a chance to be more deliberate about their structure.
So really the question is, what has changed (and what will likely change) about how we work in 2023? One is a strong emphasis on skills-based inventories of workers. Skills used to be the purview of training professionals and were seen as something that employees have, that either could be bought or trained up. Now staff skills are firmly digitalized and monitored with proper data and analytics in the people tech space – they can be catalogued, cross-referenced, and linked to scenario-planning and forecasting. This allows organizations to be more flexible about the skills they have and need and more intentional in their actions in both learning, talent acquisition, and succession planning.
Another area is the proliferation of remote workers. Again, this was bound to happen as the knowledge worker economy is no longer the only provenance of fully- or partly-remote workers. One thing that caught some people by surprise is that after the pandemic the number of venue staff in fully remote or hybrid environments did not pendulum swing back to “normal”. Instead, it stayed firmly on the side of more remote workers. This is because it is a better situation for many workers and employers alike as there are fewer costs on the employer’s side, as well as less liability, as long as the technology supports work that can be done remotely.
Overall, this “fast-forwarding” has led to one outcome that has affected our clients faster than they were fully-prepared for, and thats the full digitization of the workplace. We’ve used that term a few times in this article, but what do we mean by digitization? It’s just a fancy way of saying that now everything is done with technology. You post jobs online, people are screened by intelligent automation systems, employees are monitored for engagement, and customers can input their satisfaction levels.
This last example is the most crucial – more organizations can draw a direct line between their employee satisfaction and engagement and their customer’s satisfaction and engagement. With that data in hand, it does not require a large amount of business savvy to see the importance of keeping employees happy when it comes to meeting your business objectives.
“The inventory, the value of my company, walks out the door every evening.” – Bill Gates
The takeaway is that despite sometimes dire warnings from the major media outlets, the workplace really has not changed much post-pandemic. What has happened is that many organizations were simply unprepared for the pace of change. There is no shame in that – who could have seen a global pandemic coming? However, organizations must now take a proper landscape of their current workplace and be more intentional with how they execute both their internal and external engagement strategies. Because one thing has not changed at all but has simply become 100% certain: your employee experience IS your customer experience.
To learn more about The BCJ Group, please reach out to Bill Carl “BC” Johnson at [email protected] or visit TheBCJGroup.Com. VP