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Elevating the Employer-Employee Connection

You know that feeling when you are totally immersed in a conversation? (and you forget you're recording a podcast) - that was my recent experience with Ben Miller and John Cockburn-Evans on the #sweetspotsafari podcast.

Amongst the topics we covered, Ben and John asked me whether I thought the relationship between the #employee and #employer had changed, and what might influence this relationship in the future.

Here's my thoughts - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts #linkedin community…

1). The spectre of AI in the workplace

Leaders and business owners continue to explore what AI will mean for their businesses (now and in the future), which is understandable. What will influence the relationship between #employee and #employer is based on how engaged and included employees are in the discussion about the impact of AI on the employee and their role scope.

My thoughts are that this presents a real opportunity for business leaders to engage employees in the conversation and focus on, i). training to upskill, ii). increased productivity and creativity, iii). future hiring for the business. In contrast, any lack of transparency and inclusion might create confusion, questions, and even lead to talent leaving the business as an uncertain future looms.

2). Flexible and remote working is here to stay

The pandemic forced changes to the way we work, and the main one was working from home. As we returned to the ‘new norm’, expectations amongst employees had changed - a work-life balance was more achievable.

While employers referred to productivity levels, the efficiency of in-person time versus fully remote teams, and the influence on culture - employees had made an informed choice. Flexible and/or remote working was here to stay and that choice should be on offer to everyone.

Understanding and respecting the employee’s choice in terms of how and where they work, was a fundamental deciding factor in recruitment in 2023; for context, the two questions I got asked a lot during the recruitment process post-Covid was, “How did they (the company I was representing), treat their employees during Covid?”, and, “Do they offer remote or flexible working arrangements?”.

These questions were driven by a need to understand the respect, empowerment and resulting culture of a company, as much as they were about furlough and remote working; in uncertain times, how would you (the employer) treat your people? - as a business commodity or as a human-being. Answering these questions were as important as the opportunities on offer.

3). Four generations in the workforce

With Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z in the workforce in 2023, business leaders have a wide range of experiences, opinions, requirements, and cultures to engage with on a daily basis. The ability of a leader to manage expectations, lead, communicate, and motivate this diverse workforce, requires intent, thoughtfulness, transparency, sensitivity, to name just a few qualities.

In each generational context, the relationship between employer and employee, the dynamics of experience versus expectations, and the requirements from a career may differ to a lesser or greater degree, however, the need for effective and inclusive communication, transparency regarding business goals and challenges, and a clear understanding of how they (individually and collectively) will contribute to the overall success of a company, will be a consistent theme throughout.

Trust your employees with the knowledge and empower them to contribute to the conversations about the future success of the business, and let them know how they will be an integral part of this success - which will benefit them as much as the business. Talk in terms of mutual gains.

💡 Final Thought

When I reflect on the consistent threads through these three points, it strikes me that the employee and employer relationship, has and will continue to be based on the ability to communicate, create an inclusive environment, and include the employee in conversations about the future of a company, whilst importantly, acknowledging and discussing what that means for them.

With the pace of technology change, as a result of AI, I would recommend that business leaders start conversations about skill requirements and technology progression in tandem, not as separate conversation threads - the two are not mutually exclusive - because talent won’t wait around for change to happen to them, they will make a choice to determine change on their own terms.


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