When all hell broke loose in March 2020, the world of work — and many other worlds — were forever changed. And those worlds we knew were over. Three major shifts occurred during that time that continue to plague us today.
First, the pandemic catalyzed revolutions in the way organizations operate. This isn’t news, but it’s important to remember that the measures taken to slow the spread of covid accelerated the digital transformation by several years by building on background trends: Employees who worked from home needed collaboration software, flexible schedules, and self-service technology. Students and consumers needed to learn and shop online. And the supply chain needed new ways to transport goods and services, moving from global, just-in-time manufacturing to local, on-demand operations. The consequences of this massive and rapid shift of human behavior are continuing to severely affect the cost of goods, inflation, volatile demand, rising wages, geopolitical disruption, and more, all of which make it difficult to forecast the future. We changed everything in response to the pandemic.
Second, longer-term trends like consumer activism forced companies to seek more than pure profit as the primary business driver. For years, companies have been organizing around a principle of stakeholder capitalism, and many leaders have taken different strategies to achieve those outcomes. The pandemic was (again) a catalyst to these strategies as well. Stakeholders in the sights of these leaders include employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and more, even the environment itself. Related trends like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), climate change, social justice, and so on have further disrupted the very nature of what a business is and who and how it serves these stakeholders.
Third, in response to the previous two forces, our market has expanded considerably. In response to the previous two forces, the field of play for both marketing and HR leaders has expanded and transformed.
For HR, what was once HR Tech became Work Tech. Along the way, the work transformed — from the prior mandate for efficient service delivery to today’s remit of shepherding organizations into the future of work.
For marketing, customer experience has led the way as an organizing principle for the next generation of marketing services. For CX leaders, then, delivering a winning customer experience has been the mandate, but they too realized something: A winning employee experience precedes serving their customer.
You can see how the world of work is evolving, expanding, and eroding traditional silos. We need to keep up because we’re not going back.
Leaders need a framework to think about how to create moments that tie together the various needs of all their stakeholders.
But how? Start by putting people first.