What Lessons Can We Learn From 2023?

Full Transcript Below

[ANNOUNCER]: Breaking down everyday workplace issues and diagnosing the hidden sickness, not just the obvious symptom, our hosts, James and Coby.



[COBY]: Did we lose a patient?



[JAMES]: No, that’s just my lunch.



[COBY]: Hey, thanks for joining us. I’m Coby, he’s James, so let’s get started with a question. What lessons can we learn from 2023?



[JAMES]: So for once, I’m actually going to answer the question outright. I think there’s five big topics that we want to talk about and lessons that we can learn. And the first being that we need to do a much better job at handling the fragile relationship that businesses have with employees. Secondly, we need to commit to meeting employee expectations if we want to avoid staff shortages and expensive labor actions. Three, we need to accept and embrace that flexible work and autonomy are high priorities for5 employees and if they don’t have that thy will be going elsewhere. Four we need to accept that there are new models of work and that can bring high levels of expertise in our businesses without breaking the bank. And the last one think is that we really need to have realistic expectations around productivity tools, things like generative AI.


[COBY]: So, wow. Yeah, that was a surprisingly clear, coherent and simplistic answer to the question.



[JAMES]: Direct answer to the question. We’re two years in, finally nailed it all right.



[COBY]: But yeah, because I think a lot, a lot happened in 2023. So I think that what we’ll do is we’ll kind of look at each question individually and kind of what was the lesson or the experiences this yea That kind of taught us this lesson or hopefully taught us this lesson. And again, because these lessons are gonna be really important for us to have learned if we’re going to be successful in 2024 and And one of the things that is a common reaction to difficult times or you know, difficult situations, economic downturns is what we call The Weak Grip where we kind of drop the relationship with employees and, and a lot of that looks like layoffs.



[JAMES]: Yeah. I mean, we, it’s not a big surprise. I mean, this wasn’t a, yes, we predicted it in, at the beginning of the year but, I mean, who didn’t? Right? we know that when companies run into, stressful situations when they, you know, when a recession hits or they, you know, we’re on the edge of recession. Whatever that kind of catalyst is one of the main tools that they have is they just start dropping people, right? Mass layoffs to cut costs to get through this tough period. And then, you know, when things pick up, oh, well, magically, there will just be these people who we tossed in the garbage will want to come back and work for us, right? This is the mentality that a lot of companies use and we’ve seen it over and over and over again this year with mass layoffs with like 3M cut 10% of its workforce 6000 jobs, right? Roku laid off 10% of its work for us. So 3600 jobs, we are talking about people’s lives and livelihoods. Yes, we are businesses. We have to function and as a business, we have responsibilities to stakeholders, to shareholders, we are in business to turn a profit, but our profitability is dependent on being able to source talent and if we toss people to the side at the smallest hint of trouble. It’s going to make it more difficult in the future to bring, to convince those people that we are worth, working for.



[COBY]: Yeah. Well, I mean, like, again, we get the inevitability of layoffs and we don’t want to say that every layoff is a complete, mistake and that businesses are totally being unethical. We’re not saying that, but I think what is, what is important to kind of always kind of have this in the context of when you’re talking about a lot of layoffs is that is again the, the fragile relationship between employees, employers so that we re that a lot of businesses that go to lay offs a little bit too quick or it’s almost like their first line of defense is, is layoffs. They need to really understand that again, this fragile relationship is something that, you know, will bend and bend and bend, but eventually it will break. Like, I kind of like to think of it in comparison to like, you know, relationship with a vendor. If you had a vendor that you relied on to provide you supplies, you know, resources, tools to, for your business to operate. And if you just kind of kept, you know, pulling the rug out from underneath them and kind of ghosting them and then, and then when you need them again, you call them back up as if you’re, you’re their best friend and you sort of thing like this, you know, no successful business would ever operate in that way. They would treat, they treat their vendors with care. But that relationship of give and take is identical to that of employees. Yes. You’re often going back to the same vendor over and over again and often not hiring the same employees over and over again. But the workforce does talk, the workforce does understand reputation, employer branding, all that kind of stuff.



[JAMES]: And there’s so much media, we consume so much media, whether it’s social media where any opinion can be shared as fact or traditional media outlets, especially for substantial players in a market, right? It catches headlines, it’s Clickbait. it, you know, drives people to read the articles and the reputation, you build a reputation very quickly. So it can be very difficult to alleviate that reputation even if it is earned, even if it’s not necessarily earned.



[COBY]: No, you’re right. And, and I mean, and again, like it’s funny because we were trying to find a couple of examples of clear layoffs just to kind of have a few to reference. But the list we kept where we’re finding was huge, like just to name a few more like T Mobile laid off 7% of its employees around 5000, Morgan Stanley, you know, 5% around 3000 Accenture about you know, 2.5% which is about 19,000 people. Like, we were shocked by just how big the layoff numbers were. Like, almost like we, like many people predicted this, this is gonna be a big year. I was surprised how big a year was for layoffs.



[JAMES]: Anecdotally, like, I mean, we’ve heard a lot of, we knew that layoffs were happening, right? And I mean, talking with any, whether you’re talking on the business side or with job seekers, there’s a, like, there’s a lot of people looking for work right now. We know that there have been mass layoffs but the sheer number of people is astounding.



[COBY]: Yeah. And, and one thing that was like, and again, I can’t say that this is universal, but this is our personal experience was, we were shocked this year with how many people that we knew had been working with over the past year had built strong relationships with that were in senior level roles in you know, national organizations or whatever or you can, you know, bigger start-ups, those sort of things that we’re laid off or let go or we’re not there like, you know, like the amount of like, you know, hey, I’m gonna check in with this person we were talking about doing this around now. and then the email bounces back. This person no longer is here. Yeah, that happened so many times this year. It was unreal.



[JAMES]: Yeah. And more than any other time in my career, I think just, you know, a lot of our business is relationship management, right? Like we’re, you know, talking with partners with clients with, you know, we’re always looking at you know, collaboration. So we’re always trying to talk with as many people as we can. And you’re right this year, it was just over and over and over again. Hey, just following up on a conversation we had, you know, three weeks ago and the person’s gone. I think the most astounding one was actually meeting with a potential collaborator. It was a, I think I met, yeah, I met with them like Friday morning. I got a notification Friday afternoon that that person had been was let go as part of the layoff.



[COBY]: Like just, yeah, it was like yeah, it was, it was just unreal and again, like a lot of these were senior level like the direct reports to the CEO a lot of them were in those positions and they were the ones that were gone. I mean, so, you know, as much as it was bad for us, we had some projects that just kind of stopped once the list was gone. But these people I’m sure like, like just like the, again, sometimes we, sometimes we feel like if we’re in a higher level position we’re a little bit more immune to and some of it could have been, like, would, would have been, lateral movements or promotions.



[JAMES]: Right. Like, there’s absolutely yes. That plays a role to.



[COBY]: Absolutely. Yeah. But, but I think, but I, I think that it was just more like, I just couldn’t believe the amount of people that were no longer in the positions or were no longer with the organization anymore. And it was just, it, it, it was just shocking this year because I again, II, I would say it was almost as much, if not more than when COVID hit. because like, I mean, like, it kind of like once everything kind of started to, to orientate back, kind of in the fall, I think, like, you know, there were a lot of movements that happened then, which was kind of a, a normal thing. But this year, just as far as the, the relentless movements of people not being with their employer anymore, it was kind of wild. One of the layoff stats that I wanted to kind of reference I thought was a bit a bit ironic, was kind of going back to the companies that were laying off people. Kind of mad was Indeed, so Indeed laid off 2200 jobs or about 15% of its staff and I was like… now Alanis Morris set has destroyed my understanding of irony, But I do think that this certainly qualifies for at least kind of the base level of irony. But, yeah, I mean, like, you know, when, you know, I, because, like, again, when, like, how bad things have to be when you’re middle of mass layoffs and, and, you know, very mobile labor market and job search resources are laying off people. I’m like, so some, some that’s gotta be very telling. But yeah, but I think that what we talked about last year with The Fragile Grip Principle was that The Weak Grip is about letting people go and not caring enough about the relationship to kind of have things drop out. You’re not holding on to that relationship with enough care and what you want is you want The Stable Grip where you understand that sometimes tough decisions have to happen. But your priority is to maintain the relationship, providing as much firm support as you can without crushing or without dropping. But trying to realize that this needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship that effort has to be done to prioritize caring for it. Yeah. And not to say that all these businesses and all these layoffs, these ones we mentioned or even the small mom and pop shops are not caring about the relationship. But it’s again, when we see big numbers or huge shifts towards layoffs as one of the first moves, that’s a sign that they’re not, they’re not managing the right grip with The Fragile Grip Principle. OK. So why don’t we move on to? Yeah. The second lesson that you said we learned from this year, which is about we need to commit to meeting employee expectations.



[JAMES]: Yeah. And a big one with this is like we, we talk about this in terms of our 7X3 Rule, right? Making sure that the factors, the 7 Factors of your workplace are meet the 3 Expectations, being competitive, sufficient and equitable. And we’ve seen mass labor unrest this year. So we saw it last year, which was like in 2022 kind of the big stories around labor unrest were the unionization efforts with Starbucks and Amazon, right? Two huge names, significant players that saw, you know, their first unionization efforts and it kind of brought a unionization to the forefront of a lot of people’s thinking and to the conversation. And what’s really interesting is this year, we’ve seen some of the traditional big players make substantial gains like UAW just finished wrapping up some negotiations with the big three car companies.



[COBY]: Yeah, UAW in U in the US and Uniform Canada both made, you know, are significant kind of like negotiations and had a huge impact on kind of the imp impact on both the big three but also kind of on, on workers this year. But going back to what you said about like last year was, was, was a banner year. I mean, so unions, so there were about 1000 elections, successful elections for unions to represent workers. So new union unions formed new locals. Yeah. Yeah, new locals and, and everything else like that, you know, and that’s 1000 out of like 1300. So, so a huge amount. That’s Starbucks, that’s Trader Joe’s Apple, Amazon. There were a lot. But what’s interesting was so the number of strikes that happened in 2021 or number, the number or the number of not strikes, the number of workers on strike in 2021 was about 100 and 40,000. Whereas last year it was 240,000. So a significant increase and again all those new unions were formed, but this year as of October, not even the full calendar year as of October, there was 450,000 workers on strike. So this was a monstrous year for union for, for, for union actions.



[JAMES]: And what I find really like, that’s a huge increase. But what I find really interesting about that stat is that, ups avoided a strike, right? That doesn’t count the fact that like UPS had was in position to have their 360,000 members go on strike and that strike was avoided. So that’s not even included in that number. It could have been, yeah, 800,000 from 200. What was the number in 2020 two? So it’s 242 140 could have reached from 240 to 800,000 is a huge massive increase.



[COBY]: But this isn’t any, any new news to someone that’s been just casually following on the news. I mean, you talk about again, UAW and Unifor the Actors Union, the Writers Union here in Canada, the metro grocery stores in Ontario again, everything around UPS in the US Kaiser Permanente, which was like one which is like the biggest health care strike in US history. Like, you know, so there was a, a huge amount of stuff that happened this year. But all this to say that the lesson we need to learn as the business community is that we’re not meeting employee expectations and this is causing the employees to react. I mean, we talked about, you know, kind of like re one of the things that kind of happened from COVID was again, we, we talk about this in terms of the boiling frog analogy where, you know, you can boil the, put a frog in water, temperate water and boil it and it’ll survive in the boiling water. If you pull it out, it won’t be able to go back in without dying. So it’ll, it’ll try its best to escape. And this was kind of a metaphor for what happened to us, you know, in the workforce, all our entire workforce where we were all kind of sitting in our proverbial pots boiling in our jobs with like, you know, higher workloads and more stress and you know, and slower wage growth and everything else like that. Then when COVID hit, we were all pulled out of the pots and everything was kind of, you know, it seems to cool off and then a lot of businesses want everyone to go back in the boiling water and there and they wouldn’t. And this is the result of it years later, is the expectations of employees have changed. The water is too hot. And we talk about this in terms of a 7X3 Rule that the 7 factors of the workplace, things like wages, job security, wellness, working conditions, safety, all you know, all these elements have to be competitive with other businesses in the industry or region sufficient to actually meet employees needs and serve their actual purpose and be equitable and fair amongst staff. And this is like, like, like we’ve tried to or we, we talk about this as often as we can because this is what it’s missing. This is a, what a lot of the unionization, a lot of the union strikes. A lot of that employer brands. A lot of this stuff comes down to the simple fact that the work, the organizations are not meeting the 7X3 Rule.



[JAMES]: Well, I mean, you look at what people are, the reasons why people are going out on strike. It’s wages, working conditions, safety, it’s wellness, it’s all it is the factors of the workplace. And I really think that the 7X3 Rule, understanding that could be a really interesting way of developing some common language between businesses and unions because if we can agree on what the factors are, I mean, there’s not a lot of, we’re, we’re generally in agreement because the contracts will lay that out. anyways, we’re negotiating on those factors, what we, we all want them to be competitive, what we tend to, where the negotiation happens is on the sufficiency, you know, are the, what we off are, is what we are offering actually sufficient equitable. Fortunately, with union contracts, typically the equitable piece gets taken incorporated into the contract language because it sets the stage for, you know, everybody needs to be treated in the same way, you know, these are the parameters. so we can really use this as a guide to develop common language, to actually talk about this in a way that maybe is less contentious or confrontational. Right.



[COBY]: Well, and the thing too is like for businesses who are maybe, you know, maybe have unions or maybe businesses that don’t, that are worried about their employees unionizing. This is kind of a good reflection point for you to be, for you to be asking yourself what is the, what is the benchmark that, that you’re using for the, the success of what you’re offering your employees a lot of businesses, you know, they say to us directly or they’re pretty overt saying is that it’s about competitiveness where we need to offer it as good as the business down the street or, or the big players in our industry. And that tends to be for a lot of businesses kind of where the thinking stops. Those that have, you know, have learned a bit more from kind of the efforts around equity or maybe are unionized have also probably incorporated a lot of the stuff around more equitable actions and fairness and kind of and consistency in how things are delivered. But you know, so they’re equitable. But the problem is if your goalposts are competitive and equitable without sufficiency, you’re really blowing it because being competitive but not being sufficient means that you’re just, you’re as bad as everyone else. And equitable and not being sufficient is, you’re equally bad to all your employees. Right. With, oh, that’s sufficiency. That’s the piece that we really have to learn if you wanna have success in 2024.



[JAMES]: Well, and that’s the big piece. Right. And that’s why, like, sufficiency is top of mind because the cost of living has increased. Full stop. Right. There’s, there’s no denying that, we need to understand and respond to that reality if we want to actually retain the workers that we have and attract talented workers to our organization.



[COBY]: Yeah, you’re right. And the idea that, you know, we need to get our heads around competitive, sufficient and equitable and how we view what we offer our workplace really needs to be one of that big, that big lesson to learn. So we did a podcast episode, we talked about how dangerous is job dissatisfaction. We did that last year. That’s a good episode where we really break down The 7X3 Rule and all this sort of stuff like that. It was really helpful because any business owner, any HR professional, any executive or manager that has any kind of concern about unionization or, or labor actions at all, even the back of your mind. This is something you’re gonna want to put some effort into learning about because this could be your guide to how do you ensure that you’re meeting employee expectations so that, that the necessary supports and, and factors are there to have employees, you know, feel like they’re taken care of in their workplace.



[JAMES]: Then we move on to the next point. which was that we really need to accept flexible work and autonomy are the new normal. They are priorities for employees and we need to respond accordingly.



[COBY]: Absolutely. And I mean, we, like we, we talked about this kind of in past episodes, we talked about this with our clients and our partners about the idea of one of the, not the only, but one of the major causes about the whole push of back to the office, which was a big thing this year. A lot of it is about the workplace is conforming to the managerial comfort zone of our leaders as a boss, I’m more comfortable to have my employees in front of me where I could see them working and know that they’re busy doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that’s too hard for me to do from home. So I’m more comfortable if people are at the office. That is by no means the only argument behind the push to return to the office. But let’s be serious. It’s a big one.



[JAMES]: It is a big factor. And what I find really interesting is some of the statistics that have come out around return to the whole push to return to the office and 29% of companies that are enforcing office returns are struggling with recruitment and 76% of employees are ready to jump ship. If their companies decide to pull the plug on flexible work schedules. Like these are two significant statistics that you should take into consideration when if you are, if you’ve already pulled everybody back to the office or if you’re thinking about making that shift because flexibility and autonomy are big priorities for people. The fact that 76% of employees say that they are ready to leave, if their company forces them back to the office should scare the daylights out of you.



[COBY]: Absolutely. I mean, if talent attraction and retention are even in your top five priorities…



[JAMES]: And let’s be serious, who’s not, who’s not at the top of mind with talent attraction and retention. I haven’t had a single conversation with a client or prospective client where recruitment and retention have not been top of mind.



[COBY]: Absolutely. So, you know, if, if you’re one of the 90% then this is something you really need to be taking seriously. What are the barriers to flexible work in your workplace? Is it logistics? Is it equipment use? Is it, you know, the idea of the like physical location based work, like, you know, running factory machines and those kinds of things that stuff i legitimate. We talked about this a bit in, in previous episodes, but the legitimate and the non-legitimate reasons for return to the office. But how much of it is also about justification for the real estate that we have. How much of it is about. We think that we have to be in person to maintain a workplace culture, which is not true. Anyone that tells you that is true is, is giving you a very lazy answer. How much of it is about managers are more comfortable managing people in person and they don’t want to learn how to manage people. you know, who are working remotely or in multiple locations because we have to really be clear about what are the legitimate reasons why we have to, why we have to insist on, on, you know, location based work. And what are the reasons that are just more made up? Because if we are not prioritizing work optimization, then it’s, we have to have a reason for it because stats have really said that employees are not willing to let this go. And other and studies have shown that in a lo of cases, they’re more productive, their wellness is better. you know, they will accept you know, the flexible options will almost allow lower salaries at some point like it is such a sought after and required element that you have to have a really, really rock solid defendable position to not have it be the normal in your workplace.



[JAMES]: I think the big thing for me around flexible work is understanding that rarely does a one size fits all strategy actually fit everyone. Yeah. Right. Like and so forcing everybody to work and return to the office or going full remote or like for me, I know my personal work style is I love being able to work from home. I’m working from home right now. But I also know for myself, I need a couple days in the office because I need that mental shift to be able to be perform at my best. So I operate best under a hybrid model. That’s not the same for every person. So as much as possible, flexibility and autonomy, right? Finding solutions that allow people to perform their best because the the point should be to get the best work out of people, right? We want the most productivity in the shortest period of time. So let’s figure out what is gonna allow people to give us the best work in the amount of time that we are paying them for.



[COBY]: Absolutely. Yeah. And we’ve talked about, I can’t think of the episode specifically, I’ll, I’ll put them in the show notes. We, we’ve talked about improving autonomy and our autonomy Freeway program that we use to kind of help teams and managers better understand that the freedoms required to improve employee performance and responsibility. So there. So it’s not that these are things that are just out there that you have to figure out for yourself. People, we included have some solutions to help, you know, create this migration or no or normalize this need for flexibility, autonomy because it really needs to be about flexibility. And the fact that, you know, they need to allow people to kind of have as much, you know, freedom to incorporate their work preferences, their optimal productivity times, their busy personal lives. We are employing a whole person. We’re not employing an Android with no like, you know, with, with, with the responsibilities that you can turn on, turn off between 9 to 5. So we need to realize that the key to really ensuring that we’re gonna have the most productive people is to accept the fact that we’re employing a whole person that has needs and responsibilities and requirements outside of their work day.



[JAMES]: And I think the, the last kind of stat that really stuck out for me that I wanna share is from a us federal survey that looked at the impact of a return to work and that somebody experiencing, being forced back to the office equates that displeasure to this to the equivalent of a 2% to 3% pay cut, right? So if you are forcing people back to the office, when they work, when they feel they work best, working from home, or you’re removing that flexibility, it has the same impact, the same displeasure, the same psychological effect as if you cut their wages by 2% to 3%. So, think about how ticked off your workforce would be if you did a 2% to 3% wage cut across the board, that’s the effect that people are experiencing with return to work.



[COBY]: No, that’s an excellent point. It’s a good point for us to gonna end this part of the conversation on because I think that’s just that, that kind of speaks for itself, really? All right. So I think that the, the next lesson that you mentioned. Number lesson number four is we need to accept that good work and good employees might look a little bit different now than what they used to.



[JAMES]: Yeah. And one interesting trend that I’ve seen over the last couple years That’s I’m seeing it more and more often, in 2023 is the rise of fractional work of being able to, especially for like this is especially important, I think for small businesses. if you the ability to bring on a fractional executive, somebody with a high skill set, whether it’s a fractional CHRO or fractional CFO or COO like there is a growing movement of highly skilled professionals with years of executive experience that you can draw on for a fraction of what it would cost to actually hire a full time CHRO or CFO. And this fractional work, I think is a really important opportunity for small and medium sized businesses, especially.



[COBY]: Absolutely. And I mean, the, because, like, because again, it’s not even just for small businesses is for businesses that want to be nimble or want to be able to innovate or move into new markets. Right. Because, I mean, like, if you’re a business and you think you want to launch like an app or a new or a new tech solution, then you’ll need to go then then hiring a fractional, you know, chief technical officer to be, to kind of help guide that, that progress, that, you know, that change that new effort, you know, is something that, you know, you, you probably couldn’t afford all of that, the overhead cost of hiring a whole a whole person or a whole team. But having that one person to help guide you and know when you need to make those investments that could be invaluable and it could be one of the keys to creating a really innovative, you know, new market segment or, or the whole thing. And we see this a lot because again, we, we work more in the fractional, you know, chief human resource officer or Chief People Officer kind of realm. And it’s something that is so important because often and again, we did an episode talking about kind of when should small businesses invest in their HR and their workplace culture and we really dug into it in that episode from last season. But I mean, this whole idea of having someone that can help guide the talent management, talent acquisition, employee performance piece is so important, especially when you’re trying to scale a business, you have to scale your internal operation to be in line with your external operations, right? You need to, you need to have the people that can, that can support the backbone to support the high growth that you wanna get, especially in like the tech sector or stuff like that. If you don’t have that in place, then you’re building kind of a house of cards. So having that kind of expertise that you can bring in, it can provide you the guidance, the information, make sure that you’re making the right decisions, you have the processes and people and everything in place for scalability. That’s really what the fractional work in the fractional movement can really bring.



[JAMES]: And what’s nice is that? So there’s a, there’s a distinction here that we need to make and it’s the difference between a fractional role and a consultant, right. Right. Because those are actually distinct, like hiring an external consultant, you’re typically they’re typically working under a defined scope of work, right? You lay it out at the beginning of the contract of this is these are the outcomes that we’re hiring you for its results based whatever. the problem. I mean, that is a really good model and it works really well if you know exactly what you need because you can get somebody, you can get that expertise and have somebody develop exactly what you need and they will follow the scope of work if you don’t know exactly what you need, what that scope, if you need that more flexible option, that’s where fractional can be a really good solution. Because you’re typically hiring a certain number of hours per month, you know, you’re hiring this person for their expertise, you know, 10 hours, 20 hours, whatever that arrangement may be. And what I like about the fractional work is that it allows for far more flexibility. because it’s not about necessarily just one project scope of work that we’re looking at, it’s bringing somebody into your leadership team who can, who has a different skill set and can help really frame what is needed and you can offload a lot of the responsibility onto an expert who can take that stress off your plate. Right.



[COBY]: Yeah. And I mean, the difference again, it can also be looked at as a consultant’s role is to work and report back on regular information. Usually, the communication is them reporting to you where a fractional executive is embedded on your leadership team. They are part of the team, they’re a part time executive that provides that guidance that, that senior support, the recommendation, usually you put a staff under underneath them to support them because you don’t want all to spend all of their time on the administrative pieces, you want to be able to have them at that higher level. And that guidance, the expertise, the seeing the big picture that is the invaluable piece that’s really, you know, really expensive to get at a full time person. But, you know, and, and, and ideally you will get there eventually, but having that, that interim option of that, that support while you, while you’re growing is really, really helpful. And the other piece going along with this, the good work and good employees might look different is also the fact that we’re seeing a larger in interest into contract positions and side hustles for younger employees, a lot of employees, you know, younger employees specifically are attracted to the contract nature of work. And, you know, they, they’re not into the forever that kind of owns them. They want the freedom to kind of, you know, maybe have a couple different gigs that would allow them to do some to have some flexibility around their own schedule and they’re really drawn to, again, smaller pieces that will allow them to kind of customize their own career even. And that’s what they want, even if it looks a little bit different.



[JAMES]: I mean, really, we’re, what we’re talking about is you need to understand, what employees are looking for. Right. And match that as best as you can to the needs of your business.



[COBY]: Yeah. And I mean, and one thing that’s a little bit tough is like, you know, like for years and it’s kind of going back to the unionization is, was that full time jobs were what were expected and if you were part timing people, you know, that was something to be looked down on. And I mean, not to say that, you know, if you’re doing only hiring part times to avoid benefits, you know, that is still a pretty, you know, terrible business practice. But it’s the idea of kind of what you said before. One solution isn’t, isn’t what’s best for everybody being able to look at some of your jobs around your technical, like your, some of your creative work. some of the, like, you know, project work having that be contractual is something that again, a lot of traditional of, you know, hr professionals sort of thing that they have had this mindset of full time is the only way to go.

We only want to hire full time people that will hire that will have forever. That really isn’t the normal mentality anymore of the workforce. And we need to be able to say, you know, what, maybe some of these jobs that are a bit harder to fill or are kind of a bit complicated could be a couple part time jobs and you probably will be surprised at the uptick you would have on that.



[JAMES]: Yeah. It’s really just to understand, like, a lot of people have, don’t believe that, like, they don’t expect that when they get a job they’re gonna be there for 20-30 years. Right. I mean, my parents were both teachers. They both worked in the same job for 30 years and that was great. It was wonderful for them and it’s provided them with the ability to retire and all that great stuff, those jobs are not the norm anymore and people understand, are coming to that realization, good or bad. So they’re often entering the workforce thinking I’ve got, you know, two or three years with this employer, then I’m jumping ship, right? It’s, what’s the next career? What’s the next stepping stone in my career? Whether that’s with you or with somebody else?



[COBY]: Yeah. And the quicker that a business can get that the easier it will be for them to do their workforce planning, right? Because I mean, you know, trying to f to force the workforce and in the different generations to conform to how you’re comfortable providing positions is a losing strategy.



[JAMES]: Well, and it’s also showcases why it’s so fundamentally important for businesses to provide advancement opportunities, whether that’s advancing their new skills, you know, training and development, succession planning, upward mobility. If you are not providing though, that’s what people are expecting now. And if you’re not providing it, they will look for it elsewhere.



[COBY]: Absolutely. Ok. So I think the last lesson that we learned is about we need to have realistic expectations of the new tools that can improve productivity. So the fifth lesson we learned from this year is around that we have to be more realistic with the technology that’s available to us. But also how we view productivity and a lot of this kind of can I is we talked about a lot of this in a, in a very recent episode where we did talking about the impact of AI in HR in our workplaces. But I think that, that this idea of being really, you know, pros and cons warts and all realistic about the new toys we have in our workplaces.



[JAMES]: Yeah, and they’re not, I mean, generative AI tools are great. I, we use them in our business for different tasks. And I love the analogy that we came up with even though your jokes around them were terrible but treating A I like your intern, right? AI is not going to solve all of your problems but maybe you need like Excel is actually a great example like the being able to use AI to Hey Intern, hey AI, I need a formula that will allow me to do X, Y and Z Hey AI, I need you to write a first draft of the content marketing piece with these parameters. Hey AI, I need you to do this type of stuff using it in the same way that you would use an intern is not, act is a pretty decent way of thinking about the generative AI, what it’s capable of and what it can actually bring to your business.



[COBY]: Yeah. Yeah. And that the role of a lot of the tools around automation and around AI and around, you know, a lot of these new things that are being incorporated into a workplace, we need to really be seeing them as productivity tools and not to be afraid of their incorporation because, you know, again, there’s a, it’s normal to be afraid of like, you know, or to be concerned about, about the new incorporation of new tech, but largely the biggest impact they’re gonna have is if we can accept and adopt them and use them and not, you know, rely on them too heavily, they can make, they can augment the work that we do and allow us to spend less time with the stuff that we’re not so good at and more time with the stuff that we are just don’t believe that it’s, you know, putting in a few prompts into chatGBT is going to write the final draft of anything, right?



[JAMES]: Like it’s, it needs to be proofread just as you would hopefully proofread anything that’s coming from an intern, right? It needs to be fact checked it, but it can help you to as a productivity tool to, you know, write that first draft or give, generate some ideas or help you to accomplish more in a faster period of time.



[COBY]: Absolutely. OK. I think we actually got through those five points pretty well. I think I’ll just do kind of a summary before we end. Anything else you wanna add?



[JAMES]:No, I think I’m good.



[COBY]: All right. So the question was, what lessons can we learn from 2023? Well, the first lesson that we can learn is we need to protect the fragile relationship that business has with employees. Massive layoffs this year have shown us that we’re really not considering the full impact and the long term impact of layoffs and that we need to be, you know, avoiding the weak grip from The Fragile Grip Principle and caring for the long term relationship that we have with our employees, but also with the labor market, it does nothing for our employer brand, for our attraction efforts and, and our future retention efforts when employees feel like they’re disposable. Yeah. So it’s very important for us to realize that we have to protect this fragile relationship if we’re gonna be able to attract and have the right people that we’re gonna need down the road. And another big lesson was we need to commit to meeting employee expectations. The rise of unionization is a great indicator of the fact that we are blowing. We are not meeting employee expectations, we’re not providing competitive, sufficient and equitable factors of our workplace like wages, job security, working conditions, policies, consistency, safety and more. We need to be very intentional in how we articulate what’s provided to our employees. But also in listening to what’s going to make a difference, the costly impact of work stoppages of all these other kind of things that can, that can come from job dissatisfaction are things that we have that we either are either accepting are gonna be a natural course of a business world or we can be proactive and try and get ahead of it and provide the expectations that we’re not constantly trying to bail out the boat with all of these issues when they arise. We another lesson was we need to accept that flexible work and autonomy are the new normal employees require the level of flexibility that they were provided before we were told maybe we couldn’t have this. But then the cat was let out of the bag when COVID hit and we have to accept that this is the expectation, this is the new normal. We want flexibility, we want autonomy and we want to be able to have that provided to us. Now in the future is what the workforce is saying to the business world and those that are slow to adopt, it are gonna end up having pretty severe repercussions from their inability to accept it. Another point, another lesson was we have to accept that good work and good employees might look a little bit different than they used to. The rise of fractional work and having access to great talent and expertise, you know, at a part time basis is something that could be a game changer for businesses if they can get past the fact that’s a bit untraditional, same with providing younger workers. you know, who are opportunities for more contractual work or flexibility around their side hustle can help really fill in skill gaps and opportunities that again, don’t look traditionally what, you know, people wanted 20 years ago or even 30 years ago or, or, but it is something years ago. Yeah, but it is something that we have to realize is what is looked for for now. And there’s a lot of benefits that can come with it if we can get our mind around the fact that it doesn’t look the way it used to. And the last lesson was we need to have realistic expectations of the new tools that can improve productivity. AI is a great example of this that we need to realize, you know, that these tools can help us improve our work provided, we know how to use them properly, both technically but also the authority that we give them the, how they are integrated into our process, how they can, how we can leverage their ability t analyze information or to create automations can allow us to do more of what, what, what we’re good at and what we like about our jobs ideally pass the stuff that we’re less good at. We don’t want to do on to automation or AI or other tools. And so I think that in order for businesses to really hit their stride in 2024 these five lessons are gonna be really critical because because they are an excellent example of the important pieces that if we are learning from our past with them, we can evolve into the businesses that we want to be and these five should not be overlooked. So that does it for us for a full archive for the podcast and access to the video version posted on our youtube channel. Visit www.roman3.ca/podcast. Thanks for joining us.




For more information on topics like these, don’t forget to visit us at www.roman3.ca. Side effects of this podcast may include improved retention, high productivity, increased market share, employees breaking out in spontaneous dance, dry mouth. A version of the sound of James’s voice, desire to find a better podcast…

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