Future of work trends

03 Apr 2023

Indira Couch

The pandemic led to major shifts in the ways of thinking and how we all view the world. The Korn Ferry survey, Future of Work Trends 2022 summarises it as: Power has shifted from organisations to people, from profit to mutual prosperity, and the journey from “me” to “we”.

Employee health and well-being were important long before COVID–19, but now companies face the economic burden of sickness and stress, both in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Remote working has influenced employee’s concern for their own well-being. They want organisations to act more human, most importantly to support them to keep the energy they need to thrive when times get tough, because the flipside of vitality is burnout.

Taken from research conducted by Egon Zehnder’s work with CEO’s, here are four findings:

1. Complexity and rapid change are reshaping business and the CEOs role.

2. CEOs recognise that they must change themselves to change the world.

3. CEOs agree that social and environmental contributions are at the forefront of progress, but it is still not a priority as traditional financial metrics remain the dominant decision driver.

4. CEOs are expanding their capacity to be adaptive, relational and self-aware. They are working to develop a new set of leadership in self-reflection, listening and seeking feedback from multiple stakeholders. 

CEOs and leaders now have to consider their journey to becoming stress–free and intuitive leaders. Attributes like emotional intelligence (EQ), self-awareness and mindfulness are essential to this process and so is compassion.

Compassionate leaders recognise that every team member is not only important, but also essential in the organisation.

They strive to enhance the happiness and well-being of their people by supporting them to excel in the workplace. Compassionate leadership is not focused on the short-term or instant gratification, but rather what’s best for the teams and the organisation and considers other factors that may influence or impact the situation at hand. Compassion starts with seeing people for who they are. 

What are compassionate behaviours? 

Attending to those we lead means being present with them.

Listen actively to those we lead and are aware of how our unconscious bias may limit/support us.

Understanding is dependent on listening deeply. It requires that we take the time to ‘listen to understand’ the issues.

Empathising is feeling the frustrations of those we lead without being overwhelmed by those feelings.

Supporting those we lead to achieve their goals.

Employees need their managers to show compassion. Get to know your team members, understand them, stay in touch and support their empowerment. 

Here are a few things to which you should pay attention:

Don’t expect to see everything. Sometimes the challenges requiring compassion are “invisible enemies”, where employees do not recognise what is going on.

Employees do not advertise their loneliness. Loneliness at work is an entirely subjective internal belief.

Support the environment of psychological safety and catch insecurities. You need to ensure that psychological safety exists in your organisation. Psychological safety is the perception that 
a given environment is conducive to interpersonal risk-taking.

Keep your empathy channels open. We may not be able to empathise fully with everyone on every issue, but what makes us distinct is our effort.

More flexible. More autonomous.

More efficient. Is it possible? Flexible working is likely to be permanent so as leaders, we have to change the way that we look at things. The new generation of employees has already made their stance on flexibility.

As leaders and managers, we must manage the workplace by building solid and meaningful communication ties.

Compassion goes beyond sympathy and empathy 

Kindness is the new super power. In this new era of leadership, compassion is a new and powerful currency. Research shows that compassion improves employee well-being, performance and interaction. We can all make irreversible mistakes, instead of trying not to make mistakes, isn’t it more meaningful to improve how we handle mistakes and recover as soon as possible? Mistakes can knock our confidence and this can negatively impact engagement and interaction and dampen creativity and innovation.

Stress exacerbates fear and anxiety and it also suppresses confidence and innovation. When we feel we are safe, stress levels decrease.

Research shows that employees who work for compassionate leaders and managers are 25% more engaged in their jobs, 20% more committed to the organization and 11% less likely to burn out. Source: Harvard Business Review. 

How to be a more compassionate leader: 

We can learn anything, but we need to acknowledge the existence, vulnerability and humanness of the people around us.

Be self-aware and practice self-compassion Make your people feel personally accountable for their results (good or bad) Provide constructive and valuable feedback to your team Being a compassionate leader is not about being soft. Compassion often requires great courage and strength.

As leaders, we must do everything we can to ensure that every person on our team has everything they need to thrive, both now and in the future.

Your people are human beings.

Show employees that you can and will step in to provide any assistance/support they may need.

Always attempt to envisage yourself in the shoes of your team members in every scenario. Doing this will help to build a more inclusive team culture.

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