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Elevating the Workforce Experience: Part 4
Deloitte's Workforce Experience by Design practice uses human-centered, equity-based design to understand workers like we do customers and design experience solutions that cultivate trust and loyalty. We define workforce experience as "the sum of a human’s lived experiences at work and how they feel about their organization" and believe there are eight key relationships that influence a worker's experience at an organization - two of which have been newly incorporated into our leading practice perspective. These elements include a worker's relationship with the work they do, the people they work with, the places they work, the technology they use, the organization they work for, their personal well-being, their sense of belonging, and the growth that delivers value to their career. A worker's sense of belonging and their growth are two new additions to highlight how organizations can foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities for the worker (belonging) and portable value beyond a worker's lived experiences (growth).
Now, more than ever, workers are expecting organizations to improve the workforce experience, tackle societal dilemmas, limit inequalities with access to technology and advancement, and operate both equitably and ethically. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, 50% of survey respondents considered expanding their organization’s purpose to include all stakeholders, including the communities they serve and society at large. This finding reflects the urgent push for organizations to adopt a “social enterprise” mindset – shifting the organizational mission towards combining revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network.1
This article focuses on the fourth of the core attributes for elevating the workforce experience – Organization. The Organization relationship focuses on the worker’s relationship with the mission, purpose, culture, and leadership behaviors of the organization, as well as its policies, programs, and rewards. Six primary elements influence this relationship and its impact on the workforce experience:
Purpose – The organization’s mission that drives how business is conducted and value is given to customers
Workers are motivated at the highest levels when they can connect their work contributions to a greater purpose and mission. To strengthen the link between belonging and organizational performance, organizations need to do more than treat their workers fairly and respectfully; they must enable a deeper connection by drawing visible linkages between how workers’ contributions are making an impact on the organization and society as a whole.2 When workers can see their direct positive impact, their work feels more meaningful. In addition, as workers’ comfort with and connection to the organization increases, so does their sense of overall well-being and desire to contribute further.3, 4
Diversity, equity, and inclusion – How an organization creates an environment that enables the workforce to “live out” shared values
Organizations that effectively promote inclusion at work witness increases in job performance, reductions in turnover risk, and decreases in employee sick days.5 Moreover, appreciation of diversity within an organization can foster feelings of belonging in a seemingly polarized world. Rather than indicating that agreement comes from a single cultural template, organizations with a focus on inclusion emphasize a common purpose – differences in opinion on how to achieve that purpose become grounds for dialogue and not a source of dissension. Ultimately, when workers feel comfortable being themselves and expressing their true thoughts, the door to improved collaboration, greater fulfillment, and well-being at work is opened.6
Rewards – The organization’s dedication to the worker’s self, growth, value, and work
By placing workforce experience at the forefront of design, organizations can build a personalized reward and well-being program for workers. This requires organizations to continuously listen to workers’ needs and provide options tailored to their individual physical condition, emotional resilience, social connections, and financial health.7 For example, successful rewards, and well-being programs include preference-based options; setting up competitive, comprehensive, and complementary programs; creating a custom, flexible, and iterative system; and ensuring equity and transparency.
Adaptability – The ability of the organization to keep pace with the changing marketplace, key players, equipment, and rules
As organizations navigate disruptions, changing rules, and new technologies, the ability to adopt new skills may be more valuable than the skill itself. Continuous investment in talent development is especially critical for members of the workforce who may soon, if not already, be tasked to shift their ways of working. To help the workforce adapt to changes, organizations need to provide workers with opportunities for upskilling, reskilling, and leveraging new technologies.8
The pandemic has especially shed light on the importance of organizational agility and the use of technology as part and parcel to an augmentation strategy. Adaptive organizations able to navigate disruption and lean into new technologies can more quickly streamline costs and even thrive in environments of uncertainty.9
Executive leadership – The leadership behaviors that impact core values, motivation, and communication
Leaders are considered the human conduit that connects the organization’s vision with the workforce. By leading with the workforce experience in mind, leaders reinforce and align the values of the workforce with the goals of the organization. Indeed, communicating the impact of individual contributions to organizational purpose can motivate workers to do their best. Research has indicated that high-performing organizations are more than twice as likely to align the day-to-day experiences of workers with the core value of the organization.10
Accountability – The accountability of the organization to deliver on its promises to its customers, workforce, and partners.
Organizational leaders inspire their workers when they act as good stewards and are willing to take bold actions that provide long-term improvements for the organization and workforce experience. Simply put, accountable leaders are constructively disruptive – they are willing to dig deep into understanding the pain-points of their workers and customers and empower change to ultimately help the organization break out of culture-weakening routines. Leaders can gain the confidence of their workers, customers, and partners by strengthening trust within this human experience ecosystem through connection and experience11. By proactively prioritizing human values at work, organizations can responsibly balance the needs of the organization with the people who make up the organization.
In summary, workers seek to identify with their organization’s purpose, longing to connect their personal values with the mission of the organization. Today, many organizations are challenged with returning to a “preferred future” – adapting to a post-pandemic reality where leaders and workers must rethink ways of working with humans and technologies. For organizations to thrive tomorrow, leaders will need to illustrate accountability for fostering an adaptable, rewarding, and purposeful experience for all workers.
Don Miller is the US Leader of Deloitte Human Capital’s Organization Strategies Practice. Don is focused on helping clients future-proof their organization – aligning their strategy and capabilities to how they enable their organization and workforce to remain resilient, adaptable, and inclusive to achieve their desired outcomes.
Maribeth Sivak is a Specialist Leader in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients implement design thinking to reimagine and redefine the workforce experience. What makes her unique is her ability to thread workforce experience through solutions from strategy to design through implementation to deliver a transformative workforce experience and business results.
Jen Guo is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients envision, redesign, and organizationally manage their ideal employee experience. Jen uses her Ph.D. in Psychology to provide insights on employee needs, better understand pain-points, and deliver a successful change program for cross-industry clients.
Terry Porter, Ed.D. is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice focusing on organizational transformations that equip the workforce to deliver on business strategy. He utilizes his research, coaching, and design thinking acumen to help clients achieve their strategic ambitions by elevating their workforce experience.
1 Erica Volini, et al., “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward. 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends.”
2 Erica Volini, et al., “Belonging: From comfort to connection to contribution,” Deloitte Insights, May 15, 2020.
3 Jen Fisher, Nicole Nodi and Brenna Sniderman, “Bridge across uncertainty: How crisis leadership with a human focus can support business resilience,” Deloitte Insights, August 18, 2020.
4 Mike Gilmartin, et al. “Elevating the workforce experience: The well-being relationship.” Deloitte Capital H Blog, December 1, 2020.
5 BetterUp, The value of belonging at work: The business case for investing in workplace inclusion, accessed March 20, 2020.
6 Mike Gilmartin, et al. “Elevating the workforce experience: The well-being relationship.” Deloitte Capital H Blog, December 1, 2020.
7 Deloitte, Rewards to Relationships, accessed December 9, 2020.
8 Hannah Pitstick, “4 key leadership skills for a post-COVID-19 workplace,” Financial Management, September 29, 2020.
9 Erica Volini, et al., “Knowledge management: Creating context for a connected world,” Deloitte Insights, May 15, 2020.
10 Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, “High-impact workforce experience: In brief,” Deloitte, 2019.
11 Punit Renjen. “The value of resilient leadership: Renewing our investment in trust.” Deloitte Insights, October 8, 2020.
Don leads Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Organizational Design practice, empowering global clients to design their organization structures based on their best human impulses and aspirations to future-proof their businesses. He has more than 15 years of experience in bringing together diverse leaders to co-create new organization governance and decision rights models to quickly foster their teams’ accountability to organize, operate, and behave differently to stay resilient in a fast-paced world. While his OD industry experience spans all sectors and functions, Don is also one of the leaders of Deloitte’s Human Capital Media, Entertainment, and Sports practice.