The way we work is changing fast. Technology is disrupting every sector, while shifting social, political, and environmental factors are shaping a new landscape of work for leaders and employees. Workplace trends expert Rick Grimaldi says staying up to date on the trends and changes (many of which are driven by COVID) is the key to navigating the chaos, staying successful, and, frankly, staying out of legal hot water.
“Legalities are just the beginning,” says Grimaldi, author of the new book FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace (Wiley, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-119-79510-0, $28.00). “To stay relevant and attract a talented workforce you’ve got to know which outdated standards and behaviors no longer belong in today’s workplace.”
To stay successful in a world in constant flux, leaders must know what’s IN and what’s OUT…and transform their organization accordingly.
IN: A structured, laser-focus on workplace safety.
OUT: A “things will be fine” approach to safety.
Once a discrete area that many thought only construction companies and chemical plants needed to worry about, COVID-19 suddenly made workplace safety an issue for every business regardless of industry. Plus, workplace violence is on the rise. A laser focus on safety not only helps prevent disability and discrimination claims and avoid OSHA fines, it sets companies up to recruit and retain top talent.
For more on this subject, check out Grimaldi’s interview with Wharton on Sirius XM Radio at www.rickgrimaldi.com.
IN: Flexibility that allows for work-life integration.
OUT: Rigid rules about when and how employees work.
“Work from home” seems here to stay. Also, the 9-5 workday is being replaced with a more flexible schedule that (theoretically) allows better work-life integration. Yet true work-life integration requires time to enjoy life and de-stress, which is not always easy when the workday bleeds into evenings and weekends. There are no easy answers.
“Organizations must weigh the trade-offs between what’s good for the company and what’s good for the worker,” says Grimaldi.
IN: Intentionally shaping multi-generational companies.
OUT: Ageism in any form.
The most recent census revealed there are 38 million baby boomers, 57 million millennials (Gen Y), and 53 million Gen Xers. Soon, we will add in the 65 million Gen Zers. Youngsters far outnumber the oldsters at work. But at the same time, boomers are still hanging on to their place in the workforce. This is a good thing: the most productive and high-performing companies include a nice mix of employees of all age ranges.
“A blend of different ages means you get more diverse perspectives and a synergy that gives you a competitive edge,” says Grimaldi.
IN: A zero tolerance attitude toward sexual harassment.
OUT: Apathy around sexual harassment issues. (Or worse, cover-ups.)
In the post-#MeToo era, powerful employers and employees are facing new scrutiny about their workplace behaviors and relationships. “Everyone should have the memo by now,” says Grimaldi. “There should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace.”
IN: Taking a stand on social and environmental issues.
OUT: Myopic focus on profits and shareholder earnings.
In recent years, many organizations have come forward to support the Black Lives Matter movement, taken a stand on global human rights issues, or adopted a more environmentally conscious approach to business.
According to one PR agency, more than 87 percent of consumers make purchases based on whether a company’s social beliefs align with their own. And 75 percent of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially and environmentally responsible company.
IN: Psychological safety and connectedness.
OUT: Workplace bullies running roughshod.
As AI disrupts and reshapes businesses, the work left to be performed by humans will be based on collaboration and communication. Employees must feel safe enough to build good trusting relationships that spur innovation. Anyone who dominates, demeans, belittles, or bullies others is interfering with this pursuit—and companies will no longer tolerate it.
IN: Diversity, inclusion…and METAClusion.
OUT: Overlooking people of color, women, and LGBTQ and disabled employees.
“We know diversity and inclusion are important,” says Grimaldi. “But organizations that want to thrive go further: They work toward what DEI expert Tristan Higgins calls metaclusivity. In other words, they cultivate a true sense of belonging. Feeling that they belong is what gets people engaged and allows them to do their best work.”
IN: Bringing mental health issues out of the closet.
OUT: A hands-off approach to employee emotional wellbeing.
After years of staying out of personal lives, more companies are asking, “How are you doing, really?” Thanks to COVID, many employees have moved past stress and into trauma territory. Companies are realizing that their psychological wellbeing impacts engagement, productivity, and every aspect of culture. This means not only is it smart to destigmatize mental health issues, companies should design benefits, career tracks, and work arrangements with an eye toward meeting the needs of employees at different stages of life.
“Your ability to flex is what will make your business successful in the future,” concludes Grimaldi. “Disrupt yourself now by letting go of what’s out and embracing the trends that make our modern work environment more productive, more inclusive, and more profitable.”
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About Rick Grimaldi:
Rick Grimaldi is a workplace trends expert and the author of FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. Rick’s unique perspective comes from his diverse career in public service, human resources and labor relations, and private law practice. Presently, he is a partner with Fisher Phillips, LLP, one of America’s preeminent management side labor and employment law firms. For more information, visit www.rickgrimaldi.com.
About the Book:
FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace (Wiley, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-119-79510-0, $28.00) is available from major online booksellers.
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