Shift from financial contract to an emotional contract: The way we work is changing

Employees are more aware of their rights and self-esteem rings louder against the unreasonable diktats of the so called “bosses” who used to get away till now, with their insecurities and high-handedness

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 5:26 PM

Future of work is as transformational as its defined by the maturity curve of organisations globally. The bane lies in not acknowledging the nadir, whilst being swept away by the rigmarole of “business as usual”, when the talent bus has already hyperlooped and how! Elon was not alone, and Bezoz just created the online buzz, and for Uber to show the world how without owning an inch can lynch the conventional business models! The skills-based hiring, specialist vs generalist debate and merit without baggage hiring, are some interesting conversations confronting HR.

Unlike the days of yore, when Mcdonalds moved away from the burger to the real estate business, GE manufactured, financed and finally flew airplanes and Nokia chose not to evolve, it has created ripple effect in the demography and indifference curve of talents. The tech revolution helped shape talent mobility and new-age businesses further disrupted the way talent viewed, did and imagined work.

What is also changing is the mindset of Gen Z and Millennials who dominate the majority of the talent quadrant globally. They have increasingly questioned the so called “landlord culture” of employers in a demand and supply ecosystem, where talents have been at the mercy of contracts, idiosyncrasies and bound as the veritable tenants. The shift from a financial contract to an emotional contract, means that employees are more aware of their rights and self-esteem rings louder against the unreasonable diktats of the so called “bosses” who used to get away till now, with their insecurities and high-handedness.

Recent example of MillerKnoll’s CEO Andi Owen’s misplaced statement asking employees not to be in “pity city” as they were concerned about their bonus payments, misfired badly in a collective global movement of employee rights and fairness.

What has helped employee liberation and a new age of talent dynamics is the growing clout of social media in questioning every move of a “bad” employer and the impact on its brands, market share, value of shares and eventually its image. The truth about being digital is that what goes into the web, stays there and can rear its ugly head, when it is least anticipated! Goodwill has never been in short supply as in recent times.

A recent dipstick with global hiring leaders brought out interesting perspectives. A Recruiting Leaders (RL) 100 UK Think Tank member Danny Caines, global head of TA for Nortal suggests that organisations need to be more creative. The “quiet hiring” buzz word is real and it’s how an organisation up/re-skills employees, improving development, opportunity and internal mobility as well as understanding where contractors and gig workers could plug skill shortages, that will be the key.

Sameer Nagarajan, ex HR Director Unilever-Europe & Global CPO at Erba Mannheim-Dubai remarks that future talents would definitely veer towards remote working and flexible hours. The future relevant employers should position themselves as more people-friendly places.

AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs, a report by investment bank Goldman Sachs says. It could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe but may also mean new jobs and a productivity boom. The recent mass layoffs at the Tech giants and gradually across other sectors means that there could be a secondary lever to risk of jobs, and that’s the way work will eventually get done.

If we slice the architecture of the future of work, part-time, crowdsourcing and gig would dominate the talents who would do the work. Work would get done through AI, robotics and automation and the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of work would be through fluid work schedules, remote workers and co-allocated workspace.

The nemesis of current way of work — AI is only as unbiased as the data and people training the programmes. So, if the data is flawed, impartial, or biased in any way, the resulting AI will be biased as well. The two main types of bias in AI are “data bias” and “societal bias”, let me add the third — “candidate bias” — in choosing who to work for, how to work and when to work, that will be pretty non-negotiable in the future.

The stakes are high for anyone desiring top talent and will require a combination of well synchronised X factors — Brand Experience (BX), Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience (EX) and User Experience (UX), all conjuring an EVP that not only attracts and acquires talent but also keeps him/her favourably engaged longer.

Food for thought surely, as we navigate 2023 and beyond… the cuisine is diverse, ingredients very fusionist and the proof of the pudding is indeed in its eating!

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