3 people-first trends that’ll steer your journey to 2025
The fundamental changes we’ve experienced to our lives throughout the pandemic haven’t been universal. They’ve affected every individual differently. But – in the world of work – one trend has resonated: The shift in the employee/employer dynamic.
Employees now expect more from their employers. They want a positive contribution not just to their working life, but their entire life.
Meanwhile, employers are more aware of their responsibility than ever before. Employee experience (EX) has surged in prominence. It has become a duty that has captured the attention of the board and leadership. Prior to the pandemic, Accenture’s Net Better Off research found that only 35% of C-suite executives (CXOs) felt responsible for leaving their people better off. In just six months, that jumped to 50%.
There’s no excuse not to put your people at the center of your workplace and business transformation. We have truly entered the people-first Workplace Experience era. And here are the three trends that I believe will define this more empathetic employee-centered era throughout the next few years, through to 2025.
Trend #1: Human-focused work
We’re already seeing – and will continue to see – an increased focus on making work more humane and human-focused. By caring for people and meeting their fundamental human needs through work, organisations can help employees unlock their full potential. There will be greater attention on the value and purpose of work – which will become even more of a motivating factor for employees. From Accenture’s research we know, following the pandemic, 67% of employees want their employer to behave more responsibly and equitably.
The concept of “value” will take on a deeper meaning. This will be true both for the business – research proves that a more human approach delivers better business outcomes – and for the individual. New generations who enter the workforce expect an empathetic workplace – they’re more likely to join and stay with a company that prioritises a human work approach. But what started as a narrow demographic trend is now snowballing into an avalanche. Employees of all types and ages have had their priorities changed by the pandemic. Their experience of how employers have behaved has opened their eyes to what work can be (for good or for bad).
In fact, we’re seeing our own purpose of “making a genuine human impact” really come to bear at Avanade, when we think about the type of work that gets our people out of bed in the morning. Projects we see the most engagement around are those that have this genuine human impact. Like enabling remote working for the NHS – where we stood up the communication infrastructure that kept emergency Nightingale Hospitals running. Or the ventilator challenge. Or creating grant management solutions that enable service continuity for non-profits.
As the vaccine roll-out gathers pace, more employees are considering changing jobs. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is more than a glib slogan now – it’s shorthand for the need to go beyond work-life balance and find true work-life integration. The purpose and meaning of work matters more than ever.
Trend #2: Breaking down the digital divide
My second forecast is that we’ll see the digital divide between office-based workers and frontline or field-based teams diminishing. A superior technology-enabled EX will no longer be the sole preserve of office or knowledge workers: Frontline workers will now benefit from smarter (and better tailored) technology and better tools.
The majority of the global workforce consists of vital frontline workers and as we move through to 2025, I believe we’ll see them enjoying the relevant and empowering experiences they deserve. And this will be thanks to technology that’ll be smarter – able to adjust to the needs and wants of people using it, rather than the other way around.
Low-code and no-code solutions like Power Platform are democratising the digital workplace. Workplace Analytics and Viva Insights are levelling the playing field, with data to empower and elevate every type of worker. IoT and smart spaces, augmented or virtual reality, and digital twins are transforming workflows and processes on the ground. Frontline workers stand to reap significant rewards.
This will have a huge impact on the world around us. That could be for clinicians treating patients, clerks helping customers on the shop floor or dispersed engineers collaborating remotely. Technology will be the catalyst, not the constraint, to frontline work.
Trend #3: Insight to empower truly meaningful moments
Today, according to Microsoft, organisations spend over $300 billion a year on employee experience. That spend spans everything from development and training, benefits and wellbeing, and a whole host of employee experience platforms.
I foresee organisations accelerating their uptake of technology to evaluate the EX moments that matter and ultimately answer the question: “How can we make work more delightful and more impactful?” More and more firms will focus on EX platforms to find ways to make key moments resonate – and to drive tangible, measurable, meaningful business outcomes.
We’re working with our clients to identify and rethink tightly focused “moments that matter” – very specific scenarios that we can shape through EX design, informed by analytics. For example, are people getting enough quality time with their managers? Which teams are at risk of burnout? How do we plan for who can continue to work remotely and who must return to the office?
A key enabler will be data and behavioral analytics. Data won’t be used to track or measure people – it will be used in an ethical and empathetic way. It will empower people to make smarter choices and enable organisations to deeply understand actions, behavior and how to improve what’s really important. And employees will be supported to make meaningful, lasting changes through personalised, helpful, hyper-relevant and contextually rich nudges.
Our once in a generation opportunity
We already know that when we connect the best of technology with the best human capability, the world is a better place. The pandemic threw us into an unimaginable social, economic and (for many) very personal crisis. Our world was turned upside down. But what emerged was a changed world of work, not just a changed workplace – and these transformations aren’t just short-term. This is the future.
My hope is we grasp the wide potential this new future offers – a true once in a generation opportunity – to make work and the workplace more human.
About Florin Rotar
Florin Rotar leads the strategy and execution of Avanade’s global Modern Workplace business. Curious by nature and a technologist by trade, Florin was the company’s first Chief Technology Innovation Officer. He has had key roles leading Avanade’s Digital Market Unit globally, and establishing and growing Avanade’s business in the UK and the Nordic region, both as a senior practitioner and as a leader.