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Accountable Culture and the Future of Work

“To achieve the desired culture, everyone must have a clear, consistent, common understanding of it — and everyone must work together in a deliberate and coordinated effort to cultivate it…Everyone shares accountability for achieving the desired culture.” HBR – Denise Lee Yohn

Culture – how we behave and operate in our respective professional contexts – is the connective force that binds people and organizations together. It is integral to our collective respect for one another, effectiveness, growth and success. It is also a powerful determinant of individual motivation, discretionary effort, engagement and meaning at work. Deliberate, coordinated and sustained culture cultivation can be a powerful driver of employee attraction, retention and, ultimately, professional fulfillment.

Yet, thriving cultures continue to elude many of us, a fact that has been greatly exacerbated by the global pandemic. A recent survey by Prudential found that 42% of workers planning to leave their current roles graded their employers’ efforts to maintain culture a “C” or lower. Such sentiment is forcing a re-examination of the very essence of what culture means (and there are differences along generational lines), what is our accountability to shape it and, most importantly, what we need it to be in the future.

This week’s selection of articles leads off with Yohn’s research re: the importance of culture and her perspective on how we can enhance it via collective contributions and accountability. This sets the stage for the balance of the reading centered on selected studies on the current state of work and reflections on what will be needed in the future. There is quite an eclectic range of thoughts and nuanced points of view to consider here as well as with the week’s podcasts. And finally, I have co-opted the Arts, Music and Culture section to include several articles on American worker migratory trends, the future of housing in the US and the implications for an increasingly mobile workforce.

As always, happy reading and listening!

Articles

Company Culture Is Everyone’s Responsibility. “A company’s culture needs to be adaptable…Attempts to lock in a certain type of culture over the long term at best will fail; at worst, they will hinder the organization’s competitiveness and sustainability. This points to a key requirement of the shared-responsibility approach to culture-building. Changes to the culture must be explicitly communicated and vetted by all. Everyone may not agree with the changes, but they must understand them and agree to support them.”

Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey: Is This Working? “A quarter of workers plan on looking for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases, signaling a looming ‘war for talent.‘”

One Third Of Millennials Plan To Quit Their Jobs After The Pandemic—Here’s Why, And What Employers Can Do. “As the boundaries between work and life have increasingly blurred, leading to a rise in burnout, one in three Millennials say they plan to look for a new job once the pandemic is over.”

4 Things Gen Z and Millennials Expect From Their Workplace. “What we are seeing now is a convergence of international corporate leadership, investor interest and generational demands. The questions that Gallup has asked above — on ethics, environment, wellbeing and inclusion — will soon be the basic social yardsticks by which every organization’s purpose will be measured.”

MetLife Employee Benefit Trends. Redesigning the Employee Experience: Preparing the Workforce for a Transformed World. “With the pandemic’s lasting effects on the workforce, employers should rethink their responsibilities to their employees—and create a holistic work culture that addresses changing priorities in safety, mental health, and more.”

The Post-Pandemic Rules of Talent Management. “…Technology is moving humanity away from the office and back into homes across our nation every day. We are building culture outside of buildings, with work that supports life on a more even playing field, with talent that can come from anywhere. As we look to the future, it’s time to unleash these new ways of working for the long-term, with a focus on well-being, equality, and productivity that can work for both employers and employees long after this crisis ends. It’s time to embrace the truly global talent pool that is available to drive growth, regardless of where people call home.”

A CEO’s Guide to Planning a Return to the Office. “Policies about the mix of remote and in-office work have ramifications beyond short term cost and efficiency…Decisions that CEOs make over the next few months will set the tone for how work will be done in the future, impacting the relationships employees have formed and their emotional connection with the company. They should be made carefully.”

Designing the Hybrid Office: From workplace to “culture space.” “…Supportive infrastructure, technologies, and organizational processes are necessary but not sufficient for productive collaboration. People still need in-person touchpoints that provide opportunities to clarify and align expectations, to refresh rules and work practices, and to build or revive trust. In a world that enables and leverages work from home at scale, it is all the more important to bring people back together in offices to deliver on those human needs.”

Our company started 5-hour workdays in 2015. Here’s why we’re still doing it. “The founder of Tower says he has no doubt that the 25-hour workweek will require further fine-tuning, but the story is, on the whole, one of success.”

This company started giving Mondays off and saw productivity and profits improve. “Forget Summer Fridays. Mike Melillo, CEO of the Wanderlust Group, decided to try giving employees Mondays off.”

Book

Pickard County Atlas, by Chris Harding Thornton. “Small-town secrets loom large in this spellbinding rural noir about the aftershocks of crime and trauma that shake a Nebraskan town…Unfolding over six tense days, Pickard County Atlas sets Harley and the Reddicks on a collision course—propelling them toward an incendiary moment that will either redeem or end them. Engrossing, darkly funny, and real, Chris Harding Thorton’s debut rings with authenticity and a nuanced sense of place even as it hums with menace, introducing an astonishing new voice in suspense.”

Podcasts

NPR’s Fresh Air: The Age Of Automation Is Now: Here’s How To ‘Futureproof’ Yourself. “Are robots coming for your job? New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose says companies and governments are increasingly using automation and artificial intelligence to cut costs, transform workplaces and eliminate jobs — and more changes are coming.”

Knowledge At Wharton: Are You Ready for the Hybrid Workplace? “In the post-pandemic world, many companies will embrace the lessons learned from more than a year of telecommuting and not fully return to the office. Instead, Wharton management professor Martine Haas said, they will adopt a hybrid model with some combination of remote and in-person work.”

Blog Posts

Josh Bersin: Understanding The Exciting, New, Disrupted Labor Market. “It all comes together in a new model for management, one that looks like this. We have to look at our companies as ‘marketplaces for talent,’ not ‘management-led factories.’ And those that do will thrive, attract great people, and grow.”

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Seth’s Blog: Enrollment. “When there’s mutual enrollment, we call it alignment. If people in the organization are all committed to a similar destination, management becomes more like coaching…Instead of using authority, discipline and extrinsic rewards, teams that are enrolled in the journey are more likely to look for signposts of progress. Instead of focusing on shortcuts, competition and scarcity, teams that are enrolled are more resilient, cooperative and committed.”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

S.F. isn’t the only city seeing a major exodus, according to Zillow’s Mover Report. “Real estate listings company Zillow on Tuesday published its first Mover Report as a result of major changes that drove more homeowners and renters to move during the pandemic. A survey from the company conducted online by the Harris Poll found that 11% of Americans moved during the past year — slightly higher than the 9.8% migration rate recorded in 2018-19 by the U.S. Census Bureau.”

‘The future of housing’: California desert to get America’s first 3D-printed neighborhood. “Rise in 3D-printed homes comes as California’s housing crisis continues to rage, with 1.8m to 3.5m new units needed by 2025.”

American suburbs are about to look more like European cities. “COVID-19 may accelerate a pattern that turns dull, transit-oriented developments into neighborhoods that resemble bustling cities. But there are risks.”

This map tells you if you live in a ’15-minute city.’ “Find out if you can meet all your needs within a 15-minute walk from your house.”

Reflection

“To be mature you have to realize what you value most.

It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family.

Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”

– Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on considering what you value most. Source: You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan a Consultants Collective member and executive coach. He is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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