As a junior researcher with the Next Generation Work expertise center, I was able to take part in the first Future of Work program. During this six-day program, HR professionals and people managers worked together to discover the future of work and how they could help shape it. The participants came from a wide variety of sectors and organizations, but everyone arrived with the same goal: making people happy in their job, without losing sight of their organization’s goals.
The students and their motivation
For instance, Heidi, a fellow student, has been working in HR for 20 years. “As HR director it is very interesting to reflect upon [future] challenges in the labor market and the impact on our company [culture and structure], on the form of leadership and on cooperation. I believe we are now at a turning point in the HR industry,” she says. As a sociologist, she thinks it is important to look at systems and to find out how changes in society influence the way in which we work and live together.
Christoph advises organizations as a learning expert, preparing them for the future. “After this program, I want to make a step toward a more tolerant cohabitation system, in which everyone can show their best side. There is constant change, and employees don’t have any choice, other than to go along with it or quit.”
The rationale behind the program
During the program, the teachers presented different perspectives on work, ranging from the individual employee to teams, organizations and even society as a whole. In addition, there was plenty of time for participants to discuss, and to gain new knowledge and insights together.
"People managers are connected to multiple environments in which transitions take place continuously."
Peggy De Prins, the program’s Academic Director, is one of the teachers. She sees it as her mission to bolster people managers and prepare them for the challenges of today. “People managers are connected to multiple environments in which transitions take place continuously,” she says.
First, there is the environment of the organization itself, where strategic management plays an important role. Employees and their attitude constitute a second environment – and one that has also changed. “In the new generation, we see more clearly the need for autonomy.” These young employees want more say in defining their jobs. A third environment is society at large, which has seen many changes, including the rise of globalization and individualization.
"Together with participants, we will identify the different spheres within their organizations."
Says De Prins: “Together with participants, we will identify the different spheres within their organizations. Taking those as a starting point, we will look for ways in which we can reinforce them as people managers, so that they can anticipate more directly all the factors that influence their working situation.”
The result: expertise and a new network
This approach has been fruitful, and Christoph is positive about the result. He says the program has already led to many conversations within his company. “The program offers interesting insights that can help the management team make decisions on an approach that benefits the company.” And so, it paves the way for change.
"It offers interesting insights that can help the management team make decisions.”
At the end of the program, not only had everyone acquired the know-how needed to proceed in their own organization, they had also created a knowledge network, on which they will be able to rely in the future. Mission accomplished!