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Surviving and Thriving as a Modern Workplace

By Cynthia LaRowe

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Seismic shifts in technology, talent, and social innovation have changed the way the world works. The magnitude of these changes have forced companies to fundamentally rethink how to survive and thrive as modern businesses.

Companies that are modernizing effectively share three common traits: resilience, relevance, and results (driven from both the “outside in” and the “inside out”). Practically, though, what do “resilience,” “relevance,” and “results” look like, and how are they achieved?  


For resilience, flexibility is key

Digital has flattened competitive, industry, and organizational boundaries. As competitors become collaborators and business-to-business relationships shift, many companies are transforming internal business functions as well. While some companies take a formal Agile approach, others apply Agile principles like fast decision-making, experimentation as standard operating procedure, and refinement based on real-time results.

Amid this competitive and operational change, the way companies align and deploy their workforces is flexing as well. By some estimates, 40 percent of the United States workforce now occupies “nontraditional” and contingent roles. Some modern companies are leveraging this “gig economy” to deploy and scale talent up and down, based on specialized expertise required project-to-project, as opposed to static requirements of traditional full-time job descriptions and roles.  

The momentum of automation is driving flexible role and process design as well. Recent studies suggest that 47 percent of jobs may be automated by 2034. Surviving this trend requires a “man-with-machines” approach, an understanding of the unique capabilities that each can provide and the use of both for optimal results. Roles and processes that are designed to complement rather than combat automation – prioritizing competencies like creativity, intuition, flexibility, and judgment – will endure. Those that aren’t, won’t.


For relevance, a “consumer mindset” is critical

Five generations are in the workplace today, with millennials the largest segment of the workforce. To remain relevant, companies must fundamentally understand, map, and cater to their employees’ individual personas and journeys. Leveraging internal crowdsourcing and learning from external third-party social and mobile data can also help establish a 360-degree perspective on employees and what matters to them.

Regardless of individual differences, digital fluency is an equalizer across generations. Employees of all ages today expect “consumer-grade” experiences at work: highly personalized, customizable, immediately responsive, and intrinsically valuable to themselves and their companies. With 85 percent of the workforce actively or passively seeking new jobs, delivering on these expectations is crucial. Leveraging digital marketing techniques to create impactful employee experiences and an authentic employer brand can motivate employees to “stick.”


For results, immediacy is imperative

Digital technology has increased visibility into corporate operations and outcomes and decreased tolerance for ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and error – with shareholders and employees alike. Assessing and equipping employees to succeed quickly is critical to delivering at the speed that modern markets expect. Curated and interactive learning experiences – “micro-bites,” ad hoc and on-demand, from internal and external sources – are most efficient and most effective in enabling the modern workforce.  

With this increased urgency for results, companies are becoming laser-focused on assessing and securing the talent they need. Talent analytics and planning are essential to determining the right talent strategy and mix for mitigating current and future gaps. In the face of a global talent shortfall of 40 percent, identifying, creating, and securing new talent pools is also critical. Prioritizing “skills over schools,” many modern companies are leveraging digital demand generation to identify, attract, and secure talent from unexpected and nontraditional sources – ensuring their ability to deliver, both short- and long-term.


For success, iteration (vs. all-or-nothing) works

What are you doing to increase the resilience of your company amid ongoing seismic change? How relevant is your company to your employees – according to them? What talent do you need to deliver consistent impact, and what are you doing to ensure your employees do so? Surviving and thriving as a modern workplace is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Companies that exhibit resilience and relevance and produce pinpoint results prioritize the most accessible and impactful steps – and take them. 


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Sources: 

  1. The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?, Frey & Osborne
  2. Talent Trends 2014, LinkedIn Talent Solutions


About the Author

Cynthia  La Rowe

Cynthia LaRowe

Cynthia is a practice director who leads the Business Operations & Continuity and People & Change practices. She is passionate about helping clients create strategies and innovate solutions that make the modern workplace work.  


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