I really like John Philpott! Who is he? The Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK. I had found myself nodding in agreement as I read his blogs on the CIPD website, but I definitely came to this conclusion listening to the talk he gave last night at the CIPD Chiltern branch meeting. http://www.cipd.co.uk/branch/chiltern
Dr. Philpott was talking about the challenges of HR in the current economic climate. Unusually for an economist, he refrained from making predictions about the duration and type of recovery we are facing, but he suggested that the difficult times ahead could be an opportunity for rethinking the whole workplace culture and concept of employee engagement. ‘Creating a new paradigm’ has become a bit of a cliché lately, but as you will know if you have ready some of my previous blog entries, I really agree with him on this subject. This is not only an opportunity, but a necessity!
Particularly in the private sector, employers have taken away security in the form of lifelong employment, solid pensions, training and career development opportunities from their employees. This has been accepted virtually without protest for fear that the alternative would be severe job losses. And in many respects I admire employers’ creativity in this recession, that they haven’t automatically reached out for the hacksaw to reduce costs. But in many ways this has profoundly damaged the trust between employers and their employees, so going back to the old patterns and relationships does not seem to me a viable option.
The good news is that it’s not only up to employers to design and implement the newly enlightened, highly productive organisation. It is up to all of us. Let’s communicate in all directions, not just top-down. Let’s put employees at the heart of the organisation for real, not just for lip service. Employees need to show how they can be engaged rather than bought, management practices need to be reviewed, the gap between the ostensible organisational culture and the way-we-really-do-things-round-here needs to be closed. As Tom Peters (another person I really like!) says, ‘I love the idea that the employee is a client!’
What do you think the productive workplace of the future will look like? Can you think of any existing models for it? What actions or words would help most to rebuild the employer/employee trust?