Towers Watson, a global professional services company that specializes in human resources management, has recently published the findings of its 2010 Global Workforce Study. More than 20,000 full-time employees from all levels of their organizations and from around the world in different markets participated in the study, which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive analyses of the post-recession employee mindset available today. The study serves as an important reference for HR practitioners at McGill who are grappling with major shifts in the way employees perceive their work, their employer and personal fulfillment.
The following are excerpts from the study:
Among the key findings across the global sample, three major elements stand out:
• The desire for stability trumps everything else, in part because employees see stability as a quickly disappearing part of their current work environment.
• Employees understand they are primarily responsible for ensuring their long-term financial and physical health and well-being as well as their career and performance, but they have serious doubts about their ability to take on these roles.
• Mobility is at a decade-long low point, with many employees sacrificing the prospect of career growth for a secure job.
Challenges for employers:
• If employees are less inclined to actively pursue a career but are frustrated about advancement, what are the risks for keeping and engaging talent?
• Employees know they are responsible for their futures, but they are unsure how to handle the situation; if cost shifting goes too far, what reactions can be expected in terms of motivation and performance?
• Employees want leaders at all levels who are aspiring. Are leadership programs focusing on the right elements?
• Employees want more flexibility in their work, but if they don’t feel they have the support they need to succeed in today’s environment, what kind of programs and managerial support are needed to enable them to self-manage effectively?
The study concludes that at one end of the spectrum, few employers can sustain the kind of paternalistic employment proposition that has long held sway in the industrialized world. At the other end, it is clear that technology will continue to revolutionize not only how the work gets done, but how to “access” their work and each other. In short, business-as-usual is no longer the norm.
Drawing on the insights from the study, and the broad economic, social and business trends taking shape globally, the authors of the study see a new employment relationship emerging that is grounded in three interrelated organizational dimensions:
• Fostering self-reliance on the part of employees.
• Creating a more personalized work experience for parts of the workforce aligned with adding value.
• Strengthening agility and flexibility in the organization’s structure, processes, management style and expectations in the deliverables.
As organizations and their employees emerge from the recession, the process of re-evaluating needs and expectations will only intensify, necessitating trade-offs for both parties to the employment deal. Employers need to adopt new and creative practices to balance effective cost and risk management with enhanced employee retention and engagement. Employees will likely view careers, skill-building and mobility differently. One thing is certain: whatever the future holds, all organizations will need to adapt to this new reality, which points to being at the earliest stages of a significant workplace transformation, and the emergence of the New Employment Deal.
How McGill is responding to the challenge
No organization is immune to these transformations in the workplace. Like most organizations, McGill is looking at ways to adapt to this new reality. Through its Strategic Reframing Initiative (SRI), the University is examining, among its five priorities, “how to create a working environment that is agile in its operations and that best supports staff in delivering high quality, efficient and effective administration and support services”. For more details on the ramifications of this major initiative, please click on the following link: http://www.mcgill.ca/sri/.
The full Towers Watson study can be viewed by visiting: