Global Workplace Trends: A View from Sodexo

| By TMA World

Sodexo is the world’s 19th largest employer with 420,000 employees in 80 countries.  They service companies in a diverse range of industries and work environments, and they continually monitor workplace trends and their impact on employees.  

In their latest Global Workplace Trends Report they highlight 10 trends that are worth paying attention to; they are not only relevant to Sodexo:

The Agile Organization: Striking a Balance Between Speed and Stability

Corporate norms have been changing over the last decade to emphasize organizational agility in the face of technological change, work taking place increasingly across cultures, and the critical need for moving quickly to market.  These entail new forms of collaboration and managerial practices, e.g. faster ways of delegating and sharing responsibilities.  Mental practices like mindfulness can help employees achieve the necessary balance between speed and stability that makes agility work.

The Rise of Cross-Workplaces: Accelerating Innovation Through Chance Interactions

Innovation is critical to business success – new products, new processes, new services, new ways of organizing, and new ways of thinking.  Organizations must structure environments in which employees generate new ideas through increased interaction across boundaries.  Ideas must be given the space to emerge through permutations of “cross”: cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary, and cross-pollination.  Silos create stagnation when what is needed is co-creation with within and outside the company, e.g. suppliers, distributors, and customers.

Employees Without Borders: Understanding the Impact of Migration on the Workplace

With increased migration comes the need for more inclusive leadership, and greater business collaboration with stakeholders in governments and non-profits.  To quote from the report, “Corporations that make demonstrable efforts to promote a sense of belonging and a culture of inclusion among their workforces will be better equipped to fill talent shortages, enhance talent mobility and facilitate the ease of movement of loyal and engaged workers between countries and places of business.”

The New Gen of Robotics: How Robots Are Transforming the Way We Work

There is a fourth industrial revolution taking place with the proliferation of robots, automated processes and artificial intelligence (AI).  Workers fear that machines will take their jobs, while companies fear falling behind in the global marketplace.  Businesses will benefit from a careful consideration of the adoption and use of new technologies, and how best to train and develop employees to undertake new roles.  Technology can complement and augment human capabilities, and create new and exciting possibilities for human-machine collaboration.

Intergenerational Learning: A New Model for Talent Development

The mix of generations in the workplace creates new opportunities for learning.  Traditionally, learning has been relatively linear and top-down; the dominant mindset has been that older people teach while younger people learn.  That mindset is increasingly obsolete.  Younger employees often have a greater facility with new technologies, while older adults often bring “analytical skills honed throughout their careers, life and work experience, well-developed interpersonal and communication skills, wide networks of resources, insights and expertise; and deeply rooted ethics.”  

Personal Branding Goes to Work: A Powerful Tool for Employees and Employers Alike

Personal branding has moved into mainstream culture.  Each person’s digital presence will become increasingly important.  Organizations need to recognize the value of the influencers in their workforce as viable marketing channels.  At Adobe an enthusiastic employee drove more social traffic to the website than the company’s official Twitter presence.  The software company then created a program to train people in how to discuss the company with friends and social networks.  Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the brand’s social media channels.

Redefining Workplace Experience: Putting Design Thinking Principles to Work

Employers need to rethink all elements of the workplace to put the employee experience first.  For valuable employees to be happy, healthy, and productive requires that companies consider numerous factors – the built environment, virtual technology, software, communications, workflow, organizational structure, rewards, learning and development, and performance management.  Rather than expecting employees to adapt to workplaces, experience design flips the approach – create workspaces adapted to the way employees work.  As a result, the workplace becomes more human-centered.  This helps to attract and retain the best talent

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Reframing CSR Through a Shared Vision and Common Purpose

In September 2015 the UN released 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, including: No Poverty, Affordable and Clean Energy, and Climate Action, and Gender Equality.  Even before these goals were published there had been a growing realization that businesses had a pivotal role to play in support of social and environmental as well as economic ends.  A culture shift has been taking place, e.g. a 2016 survey of millennial employees found that 75 percent would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.  Quoting from a PWC report, Sodexo says, “90% of citizens say it’s important for businesses to sign up to the SDGs.”   

Unlocking the Potential of Millennial Talent: A New Understanding of What Drives This Generation

Millennials are the diverse generation born between 1980 and the early 2000s.  Millennials now represent the largest share of the labor market – 32 percent.  By 2025, they will comprise 75 percent of the global workforce.  Millennials have often been the subject of negative misconceptions and stereotypes like entitled, lazy, disrespectful, needy, and disloyal.  Like every stereotype these are simplistic generalizations.  Research by Deloitte gives us another angle on Millennials – they seek a bigger purpose, are natural innovators and highly educated, as well as being motivated by human contact, continuous feedback, flexibility, and access to training and development.  Every business needs to think carefully about putting the conditions in place that engage Millennials.  A key principle for Millennials is YOLO – you only live once – and so uppermost in their mind is the question, “If I only live once, why would I want to work for you.”

Wellness 3.0: The Workplace as a Wellness Destination

According the Sodexo report, today’s workers are seeking out a new and improved value proposition – one that includes a focus on all aspects of their health and well-being, i.e. the workplace as a wellness destination and not just a source of stress.  Wellness 3.0 is holistic and integrated focusing on physical, financial, and emotional wellness.  It is important to recognize, however, that one size doesn’t fit all.  As Dr. D.W. Ballard, Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence at the American Psychological Association points out in the Sodexo report, “Cultural norms are very important to consider; employer programs need to be customized to ensure that differences are respected and incorporated, and not all programs work around the globe.”

Have a conversation with your colleagues.  

When you think about your own organization, how do you rate its readiness in terms of these ten trends? 

The Agile Organization: Striking a Balance Between Speed and Stability Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
The Rise of Cross-Workplaces: Accelerating Innovation Through Chance Interactions Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
Employees Without Borders: Understanding the Impact of Migration on the Workplace Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
The New Gen of Robotics: How Robots Are Transforming the Way We Work Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
Intergenerational Learning: A New Model for Talent Development Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
Personal Branding Goes to Work: A Powerful Tool for Employees and Employers Alike Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
Redefining Workplace Experience: Putting Design Thinking Principles to Work Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Reframing CSR Through a Shared Vision and Common Purpose Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready
Unlocking the Potential of Millennial Talent: A New Understanding of What Drives This Generation Not at all Somewhat Good Very ready