What’s the next revolution in work? Sensitivity. From the robotic and autonomous sensors that are changing heavy industry to the predictive fine-tuning of inventories to AI-based customer engagements, the entire universe of business is becoming—perhaps astonishingly—increasingly sensitive. Every system is now a nervous system, chock full of inputs and making decisions with foresight based on data-first hindsight and analysis.
It’s not only techno-sensitivity that’s changing. Human sensitivity is expanding, too, changing workplace dynamics and the employee experience. Initiatives around social justice and resilience-based challenges around parenting, mental health, and interpersonal engagement are becoming increasingly critical to high-functioning workplaces, brought to the fore by social forces and pandemic realignments.
Those human needs and our fast-growing technological capacity are going to be a good match. Over the next few years, the sensing and predictive capabilities that have been put in place to create operational resilience will increasingly be applied to create workforce resilience and high-response employee engagement. Traditional approaches to EAP and Behavioral Health won’t be effective in an environment where there’s a need to act quickly and serve vast numbers of employees simultaneously. Reaching the 5% of employees who raise their hands to request help from their EAP cannot meet the needs of a workforce where Black Swan events have created wellbeing and performance crises for 75% of the employee base. Today’s workforce needs ubiquitous and asynchronous resources that support wellbeing but also help them cope with the rapid changes at work that confront them on a daily basis. People today need skills as well as tools and resources.
According to HR industry analyst Josh Bersin, “Investments in employee experience are massive. Fueled by the pandemic, companies spend billions of dollars on collaboration tools, wellbeing apps, training and development offerings, and all forms of surveys, knowledge management, case management, and employee support.”
This massive industry is over $300 billion in size, and includes every major software vendor from ADP to Workday, Cisco, SAP, UKG, Oracle, ServiceNow, and hundreds more. And now Microsoft Viva which aims to redefine the industry. Viva is an example of the technological innovation being applied to workforce strategy by combining HR and IT systems to create one integrated virtual workplace.
We all recognize that work is rapidly evolving from on-site employment under close supervision and highly-compartmentalized lives to more independent, mixed-use time, some or all of it off-site. Resilience—the ability to overcome challenges, navigate change and solve problems effectively—is the prerequisite for a successful evolution.
Building broad-based employee resilience—combining agility, mental wellness, and adaptive capacity—is now essential. That means the analytical and predictive sensors tracking employee wellbeing must be universal and cutting-edge, and the systems for training, encouraging and monitoring resilience will be critical to organizational agility and success. With these in place, we liberate our workforce to manage change and freely leverage all of the new capabilities at their fingertips. As I like to hear my team tell me, we’re on it.