The 5 key findings from the 2020 Future of Work report (and 3 ways to implement them in 2021)

We all know that workplaces changed immensely in 2020 – most of us experienced it firsthand. And while the year might be over, the changes aren’t going anywhere. So, what does this mean for how we run our businesses, how we manage our people, and how we prepare for the short and long-term future?

Over the past five years, OI Global Partners has been producing an annual Future of Work Global Study. OIGP is a highly regarded global coaching, leadership development and consulting network, of which Choice is a partner. Combining survey results from thousands of HR and Business Leaders in hundreds of organisations worldwide, the study gives incredible insight into people challenges, skills and trends driving global business.

While always insightful, the 2020 report might be the most valuable yet.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and the impact of COVID – while chaotic and disruptive – provides an opportunity for businesses to reflect and build better practices going forward. The OI Global Partners report goes a long way to help plan for a future of work that no one anticipated.

The study includes a lot of data, so we’ve pulled out the most relevant and interesting findings. Here, we’ll take a more in-depth look at what they mean for you, what you can do with it, and how you can use your own experiences and those of others to build a better future.

Smooth operations are great, but it’s disruptions that make us better organisations

Congratulations, we did it. (Almost) all of Australia is now enjoying the freedoms of being COVID-safe, just in time for Christmas. It’s no small feat, and it hasn’t come without major sacrifices for many of us.

During the thick of it, we were in survival mode, running off adrenaline. Few of us had the opportunity to stop for a second to look around and notice what we were achieving. But many still haven’t.

One person who did though is Sabina Read, renowned psychologist and corporate health management coach, and this month’s Disruption Circle guest speaker.

In our latest and last event of the year, she provided us with some fascinating insights into her observations of human and organisational life during the year of COVID. She’s a strong believer in using what you’ve learnt (good or bad) to set yourself up for future success. And now that we’re mostly through the hardships of the pandemic it’s time to do just that.

How the pandemic better prepared us for future workplace disruptions

Over the last few months, we’ve heard dozens of stories and learnt of multiple ways that businesses have dealt with the pandemic – the different approaches and the different results. But now that we are eight months in and on the cusp of achieving a ‘new normal’, the focus needs to turn to post-pandemic plans (or at least, post-2020).

Has this year just been a strange anomaly, an unfortunate detour? Or can the processes and practices implemented out of necessity be retained to deliver long term benefits?

Sarah Stockwell (HR Director, ANZ at McPherson’s), guest speaker at our latest disruption circle event, gave interesting insights into how an ASX listed company approached their pandemic response. Unlike many other organisations, they continued to focus on the big picture (growth and delivery), and only changed their expectations on how they would get there.

What difference can attitude make to change management outcomes?

2020 has hit businesses hard – and it has hit the people in these businesses harder. With so many changes, the federal Government budget stimulus has assisted but there are still many challenges. Many organisations have found it hard to stay afloat and support their employees simultaneously.

HR professionals are responsible for balancing both sides of the coin – managing what’s best for the business, but also what’s best for its people. While staff have never needed support more than they do now, actually delivering this support hasn’t been easy. These months of disruption have challenged everyone in terms of the actions to take to maintain the organisation and the support for the employees.

This begs the question, can the approach we take to supporting staff make a difference to overall business performance and the organisation’s resilience?

It’s a question that took centre stage out our latest Disruption Circle event. Rebecca Supierz, HR Director for ANZ at Seek, discussed the approach they took in the face of major disruption and uncertainty – an approach that was significantly different from that of many other organisations. She made a great example of how a change of attitude and looking closely at what’s really important helped with a successful operational pivot.

Downsizing during a crisis: How to lift employees up when you have to let them go

At the end of 2019 Australian employment rates were as high as they had been in some time. The government was getting ready to announce its first budget surplus in over ten years. People had high hopes for the new decade.

Then COVID hit. Many industries were impacted immediately, while many more have found themselves increasingly affected as the months have gone on. Which leaves many of us facing a tough situation: Downsizing organisations and saying permanent goodbyes to employees.

In such an overwhelming and unprecedented situation, how do you go about carrying out a restructure? Logistically it can be hard to exit employees en masse. But it is also challenging from a human point of view – how can you lift these valued members of your team up at the same time you have to let them go? What will be the impact on the remaining employees?

Challenging the status quo: Increasing business value through leadership diversity

Organisational gender diversity, particular at the executive level of business, has been a topic of discussion globally for a long time. While there has been some movement in diversifying business in recent years, we are still seeing large disparities in representation.

So, why has it been so difficult to get more females into management and executive roles in businesses?

In our latest Disruption Circle event, we discussed the issues of leadership and diversity with guest speaker Michelle Guthrie. A lawyer and business executive who has held positions at News International, Foxtel, Google and the ABC, Michelle shared her experiences and suggestions for industry-wide improvements.

The outcome was that there are tangible advantages of leadership diversity, and that there is a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals right now to achieve true diversity and organisational change.

Prioritising people and shining a light on leaders: How to make the most out of disruption

Over the last 10 or so weeks, disruption has become the norm. But just as many of us are starting to get used to our new normal, it’s all changing again. While a lot of attention has been focused on how our current situation is affecting operations and economics, it’s also affecting something else – people.

This will become even more noticeable as we move into this next disruption. As many businesses get back on track and move their people back into more traditional work environments, people, disruption, and wellness will intersect.

It’s not surprising that this topic took centre stage at our latest Disruption Circle with guest speaker Daryl Mahon, former Vice President at Ford Motor Company.

But while this is a moment of fear for many – for personal safety and business performance – we received valuable insights into how it also presents an opportunity for outstanding people leaders to demonstrate their skills.

Without a Template: Leading through the COVID crisis

On the 15th March the Prime Minister announced the National Cabinet response to COVID-19. Suddenly we had no template and everything we thought we knew doesn’t apply, and quite abruptly we’re wading into some very murky and unchartered waters.

During times of uncertainty, everyone in an organisation takes their cues from the leadership team. Often, challenging times can reveal the true character of a business and its leaders – for better or worse.

So, what does good leadership look like in such an unprecedented crisis?

In our latest Disruption Circle video conference, we invited someone who knows just how to answer this question. Klaus Duetoft is Vice President People International at eBay Inc and has geographic responsibility for AP, major Asian countries along with some other international markets. In addition, he is a member of the eBay Inc Global People Leadership team. He, along with a group of prominent HR leaders discussed the key qualities and behaviours leaders should be channelling to guide their organisation through COVID-19 and the inevitable instability of the post-Corona future.

To Klaus, it seems that the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ is very much at the crux of a leader’s successful navigation through the disruption that comes with COVID-19. The most important fact remains that your team will remember the way you responded during this period, so make your behaviour deliberate and measured, and then learn how to future-proof. 

Speak up! How building a good organisational culture can help manage disruption

How you plan for change plays a big part in the effectiveness of your strategy and the outcome across the entire organisation. However, it’s not always easy to plan for change. Sometimes, change is spontaneous.

This is a very dominant issue right now, as many organisations grapple with the fallout of COVID-19. Disruption, you might say, has never been more prevalent. So, what is the course of action in these surprise situations?

The answer, it seems, isn’t in an action plan or strategy, but could be in the foundational culture your organisation is built on. In our last Disruption Circle event, prominent HR directors discussed the important role business culture plays in change management.

It seems that things we do in non-disrupted periods can really affect the way all change (even when spontaneous) is effectively managed. Simply encouraging employees to ‘speak up’ can help you better weather the storm of uncomfortable change.

Future of Work 2019: What the data tells us and how to apply it to your organisation

How do you run a better business that drives outcomes for the business and for your employees? How do you know what is working and what isn’t? How can you tell how your organisation compares to those in your industry? 

These questions led the GOIP to publish their annual Future of Work report every year. Future of Work allows you to glean insights into the processes of hundreds of businesses like yours from across the world to see what is impacting who, and why. 

Learning from your own actions and those of others provides great insight into how you can improve your overall outcomes. 

This year’s report comprises answers from 1000 talent managers across a range of industries and over 25 different countries.

Here we’ll unpack the three biggest insights we think will be affecting organisations like yours in the next 12+ months, and how you can make them work to your advantage.