The Now of Work is Human

For a while now, theorists and economists alike, have been preparing us with great anticipation for the ‘Future of Work’. Something many of us have envisioned as an artificial intelligence takeover – a real-world ‘I Robot’.

News flash: this ‘future’ is here. And it’s unfolding as we speak.

While we know that over a quarter of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by automation in the next decade (thanks to RBC’s Humans Wanted Report), our sense of humanity at work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, at P4G we believe it will elevate. With the advantage of a candidate-driven market, people are calling for their workplaces to become more human-centric, particularly if employers want to keep talent.

And with technology claiming more routine tasks, this leaves people with more time to embrace the stuff that really matters to them: creativity, the emotional connectivity of teams, corporate social responsibility. After all, it is the most emotive interpersonal and creative roles that will be hardest (and dare we say impossible) to automate.

The Head and the Heart 

Sharon Ishimwe, Executive Director, MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning, and listening enthusiast, dropped knowledge when she shared with us her learnings from a London School of Economics professor. “In the past, work was about muscle, now it is about the brain, and in the future, it will be about the heart, she says. “For a while now, I’ve been convinced that the future he was talking about was here and the pandemic has made this even more clear to me.”

We couldn’t agree more. Humanizing the workplace requires a fusion of purpose and values that makes work meaningful to individuals. In their study, ‘The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human’, Deloitte found that employees who have a sense of meaning and purpose are more than four times as likely to love their jobs, and much more likely to stay. People value meaningful work where they feel recognized and respected, more than they value free food, re-filled kegs or ping pong tables in the break room. 

We’ve learned that bringing teams together with a sense of purpose requires intentional space where people can manifest their emotional connections to the work they do every day. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, scientist, writer, and meditation teacher tells us, “make time to step out of the endless river of doing, and sit in the pool of being.” One way we embody this with the P4G team is through our weekly head and heart check-ins on Wednesday mornings. During this time we suspend the work-related talk and take an hour listening to one another. We show up ready to support each other  through individual hardships related to work or personal life or celebrate milestones and life moments that are meaningful to us. Consistently investing in the emotional wellbeing of the team, regardless of upcoming deadlines or heavy workloads, is integral to how we show up for each other and handle difficult situations as a collective. 

We aren’t saying a head and heart check-in is for every organization. We are saying this space works for our team and it’s been integral in staying connected through COVID and while working remotely. Team members protect this space in their calendars – we look forward to it every week. 

A Winter 2022 Wednesday head heart ‘selfie’

Regular doses of appreciation and gratitude at work (that aren’t simply reserved for performance reviews and year-end), have been proven to amplify positive team connection and retention rates. Whether it shows up as virtual high-fives, focal point celebrations or assigned accountability partners to help up work through some of our goals (which are a few of  our P4G practices), gratitude and recognition have the power to unite harmoniously disagreeable teams toward a shared vision.

Are you ready for the ‘Now’?

Our accelerating world of work will bring changes, but if you are prioritizing human potential and the work that robots just can’t do, then you are holding the key to unlocking innovation, growth and employee wellbeing. The soft skills are here for their come-back.

Employers are eagerly seeking candidates with cultural awareness, active listening skills and emotional intelligence that can sustain and develop strong human connections between brands and communities. And these skills can be learned. 

Workplaces that prioritize the continuous learning, upskilling and reskilling of their contributors have an advantage. It may sound strange for us to make this case as a recruiting agency, but employers who invest their money in the upskilling and development of great employees, will be less likely to find themselves reposting a role for the third time.

Re-positioning oneself or one’s organization during a time of great transformation can seem totally overwhelming, even ominous. But we believe it comes with an opportunity to step outside the comfort zone and influence necessary change. 

We have many Echkart Tolle fans on our team – a universally loved teacher who reminds us to pause and reflect when we find ourselves in a state of disruption. As we embrace uncertainty with our feet in the new world of work, we return to his teachings about living in the now, realizing that the present moment (in this case present era of work) – no matter how chaotic and disruptive it might feel – is all we ever have. 

In a time of great disruption “all we can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter”, and for human beings to thrive. 

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