My wife depends on her maid. Many times maid does not turn up without informing. Then wife has to do all the daily chores herself. I analysed the problem and brought home a floor cleaning robot. The robot did not replace the maid. It reduced our dependency on the maid. At the same time, the role of the maid changed. Now she became in-charge of one more machine.
The impact of bringing the floor cleaning robot was that after a couple of weeks, our maid resigned. She thought that the way we are automating our home, her job will be redundant very soon. We told our maid that a study compiled by Mckinsey Global Institute predicts that only 5% jobs will be automated by 2030. About 60% jobs will be redefined as one-third activities of the jobs will be automated. However, it was difficult for us to explain and it was difficult for her to comprehend. She was not able to handle it and left the job.
Organizations and people across the globe are experiencing technology. We are unsure about what technology can do. How it will impact our jobs and our lives. The paranoid inside us creates an exaggerated view of the problem and we panic. As per mercer, 56% of Indian employees are seriously considering of changing their jobs even when 70% of them are satisfied with their jobs. This is a serious concern for organizations.
Organizations are competing in the market place to be more efficient. They need agility to survive and flourish. Instead, they are dealing with pressures and panics of perceived reality. The problem statement is “How to develop organization agility by aligning its workforce to respond the market dynamics”
Organization Agility is the capability of an organization to rapidly adapt in response to the changes in the market place. Till sometime back organization agility was the responsibility of leadership. Leadership used to steer the organization through the market, just like a driver steers a bus. Employees keep coming and going at every bus stop.
With the advent of technology, organizations have started restructuring themselves. Let’s take an example of platform organizations like Uber, Swiggy or Urban Clap. They made employees their partners. They train employees and put them directly in front of the customers. The responsibility of organization agility shifted from leadership to all the employees. The bus has been replaced by a rowing boat, where everyone has to row. Everyone is directly in touch with the market.
Hence organization agility is now directly proportional to workforce agility.
Workforce agility is nothing but psychological empowerment to react to changes in the environment. The psychological empowerment comes when people are proactive, resilient and adaptive. Organizations can develop these qualities by giving challenging assignments and opportunities to employees. Such assignments build their confidence by bringing them out of their comfort zones.
“Workplaces are creating more stress in their endeavour to create workforce agility. Today Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. 70% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints” as per WebMD Medical Reference.
Organizations are looking for methods which are stress immune and make the workforce more agile. Behavioural scientists have figured out that if a person has a positive attitude towards life, belief in self-development and emotional stability, then there are greater chances of achieving stress-free workforce agility. Interestingly these attributes are the outcome of spirituality.
I did a transaction on my credit card. I got two messages. The same amount was deducted twice from my account. I called the credit card company. The lady said“You can wait for 24 hours. If it is an error, it will be sorted on its own. In case you want to raise a dispute, you can do so by filling a form.” Now I had a choice of burning my blood or calm down. I left it to God to handle. Here comes spirituality.
Spirituality is a broad concept with universal human experience. It means connecting to something bigger than ourselves. Having trust and faith that nothing wrong will happen to us. And even if something wrong happens, God will have a bigger purpose behind it. The moment you start thinking in this manner, burden of stress is relieved. You have a positive attitude towards life and you are emotionally stable.
Spirituality has another aspect. It also means finding meaning in life we lead. This not only enhances job satisfaction and engagement but also enhances the belief in self-development initiatives.
How Organizations Should Approach Spirituality
Here is a formula of Human SPIRIT to make organizations more agile.
- Start From Leadership: List spiritual attributes believed by Leadership. Embed them in the day to day working, processes, rituals, symbols and value system of organization.
- Prepare The Purpose Of Each And Every Job Role: Why that job is important. How it impacts the lives of the customers. Define purpose carefully and repeat it like a broken record. This connects people to something bigger than themselves.
- Impart Skills To People: Let people learn skills to enhance capability. Capability makes people confident and brings down fear. Introduce frameworks that promote self-learning like incentives for learning new skills, make job rotations necessary for promotions.
- Reinforce Respect: Respect can be induced by introducing simple things like acknowledging, appreciating, listening and recognizing. It can be achieved by educating managers on acceptable and unacceptable behaviours.
- Institutionalize Relationship Building: Create opportunities and environment for employees to build relationships with each other. Create cross-functional teams or task forces or self-directed teams for work or organization building initiatives. Involve families in organization events.
- Thrust On Teams: Promote teamwork. Introduce team recognition and rewards along with individual rewards to promote a shared sense of work and accountability.
This Human SPIRIT formula satisfies the needs of the people for the inner life, meaningful work and community. Which in turn contributes to making the organization more agile.