New Work concept explained (and its impact on employee recruitment)
For centuries, people have been getting up and going to work. The office has become inseparable from work. Any HR professional will tell you that the dynamics of employee recruitment and what people are looking for in a job have completely changed over the years. You can only see how people approach work when you step back and take a look.
What has changed over the decades?
The 1950s were transformative. Manual typewriters and calculators hit the workplace. The concept of employee recruitment, to work less and get paid more’ was enjoyed by many who upskilled and learned how to use these new machines. Productivity boomed, but the average worker’s salary had yet to catch up.
The 1960s gave birth to an easy-to-assemble unit with vertical partitions to minimize distraction. You probably know it as the cubicle. Employees started using electric typewriters and were introduced to computer systems for customer satisfaction.
The 1970s saw a rise in the private sector to solve economic problems. As the economy faced recession in the 1970s, employees felt a sense of job insecurity after years of promise. Employees enhanced their computer skills to maintain their profiles.
The 1980s gave birth to the 9-to-5 routine as we know it. Employees were provided more means for work-life balance and wellness programs. Personal computers appeared on nearly every desk.
The benefits of creating long-term loyalty from employees became the norm. Companies started making the interest and needs of the employees a priority. This development led workers to forego work wherein the management was incompetent or overbearing.
Despite the dot-com bust, the widespread use of technology in the workplace began to affect low-wage, lower-education jobs. That meant fewer administrative assistants, bank tellers, and retail workers. Employment recruitment opportunities now required higher-level social or analytical skills, or both. Most of the technology we use today was launched or introduced in the 2000s. These include Skype, Google, Facebook, etc.
As the tech sector became a huge component, the workforce became more diverse than ever. AI and robotics created more jobs as companies were guided by innovation.
So, what about 2022?
Never before have so many people worked remotely. Meetings and job interviews have become virtual. Employers have introduced 4-day work weeks and half-day schedules. Managers let go of the decade-long act of supervising in person.
These changes are examples of “New Work” and greatly influence organizations and their processes.
What is the New Work concept anyway?
New Work implies “working to live instead of living to work.” The social philosopher Frithjofir Bergmann founded the “New Work” movement as the antidote to “old work,” which he sees as an antiquated system that impairs the workforce. An increasing number of people are looking for meaningful New Work as it meets the needs for freedom and autonomy.
Despite the ability to do work from anywhere, and at any time of our choosing, a low productivity model isn’t satisfying for employees and isn’t effective for employers. According to 451 study reports, “About 35% of workers surveyed said they felt more productive but not more engaged, stating that they were struggling with anxiety, not feeling focused and experienced a lack of alignment with their work team.”
This paradigm is why HR departments will have to adapt to the ways of New Work to find a balance between employee loyalty and company goals.
Confronting traditional employee recruitment management practice with flexible working hours
The idea that work assumes the highest priority throughout one’s lifetime is now being challenged. Workers are questioning why they need to fit their personal lives around a fixed pattern of work at a time when many activities can be automated. The “standard” pattern of knowledge work is still based around a fixed location for a fixed time.
Other than just introducing flexible working schemes to meet the workforce’s demand, HR policies should further explore opportunities to accommodate people who can’t work “normal” hours.
Creating a smart working environment
As we move towards a shortage of critical talent, employers will have to face a fundamental rethink of their approach to work. There is already extensive evidence that a big paycheck no longer brings satisfaction to employees with scarce skills. Take a look at some key statistics that state what truly motivates modern employees according to the Gartner report of 2020.
HR managers must create platforms that stop measuring input (hours worked) and start measuring output (fulfilled OKRs, KPIs, or any other tangible results). The basis for employee recognition is the work they produce, not the number of hours or where they work from. For example, if you reward facetime in the office and in attendance, guess what you’ll get – facetime in the office and attendance. If, on the other hand, you reward outcomes and performance, guess what you’ll get – results.
The New Work concept involves implementing a leadership style that empowers people and motivates them with getting on with work. It’s a sign that employers treat their employees as adults and consider their mutual needs and priorities.
Changing company knowledge sharing culture
For decades we have heard from management gurus, occupational psychologists, and inspired leaders saying that all you need to do is give people instructions, and they will simply follow them.
That old approach to work simply without proper knowledge and direction doesn’t work anymore in the employee recruitment process. Employees in the New Work era don’t simply do what they are told to do. They ask questions about why they work the way they do, and they aren’t satisfied with the blatant commands.
Therefore, HR departments must create the proper knowledge-sharing channels and eliminate the loss of tacit knowledge. When an employee receives a new task and has all the needed input, they are more likely to do it with confidence. Read the best practices of sharing knowledge within your organization.
Rewarding results, not attendance
In the past, employees had to only turn up to work and contribute the hours. Now technology has freed work from the constraints of a fixed place and has given the worker more choice over when to perform it.
By evaluating employees based on results produced over hours spent, companies can create a highly driven workplace with increased employee output, improved team rapport, and robust company culture. Additionally, a principal benefit of the results-focused workplace is the culture that it creates, allowing work to be part of life naturally, not a separate aspect.
Career versus work
We keep hearing about the Great Resignation. The global pandemic has led workers to rethink their priorities in their careers, work/life balance, long-term goals, and working conditions. The result was The Great Resignation, wherein nearly 33 million people resigned from their jobs.
Surprisingly, experts don’t have specific answers to where they are going or what they’re doing after resigning from their positions.
It’s not just blue-collar workers. White-collar professionals have also reassessed their work lives and decided it’s time to change. There is a new dynamic at play. Employees used to view work as a chore needed to earn a paycheck. They lived to work. Now, they want more.
People are reimagining their work lives and seeking out careers that offer the chance to make a difference in the world. HR professionals will have to assist with transitioning job roles that offer this type of experience before recruitment and selection. Others will need to start upskilling their employees in order to offer growth opportunities and job satisfaction.
What does the future of work hold?
People working under the New Work concept will feel genuinely empowered. They will decide when and where they work to achieve their goals. If they know they are most productive working in the evenings, they might spend mornings leisurely. Instead of turning up to their employer’s workplace and being paid for putting in an appearance, they will choose the appropriate place of work to suit their own needs. They will be happy to be judged as per their results, rather than the time spent on wasted efforts.
Once the link between work and a fixed location is broken, many potential workplaces emerge. This arrangement can be highly productive where this fits in with people’s personal lives and work commitments. Just saving the time and hassle of a daily commute brings rewards, but people also report significant output per hour worked at home versus at a noisy office.
If employers don’t keep up with this trend of employee recruitment, they will likely lose their best employees, either to more agile organizations or to some form of self-employment. Applying the concept of ‘New Work’ may sound like a simple task, but it conflicts with the prevailing culture in many businesses and may take a severe shake-up of leadership to achieve.
The concept of New Work is developed to serve people’s well-being and increase their freedom. However, this gain in freedom is also associated with increased responsibility, which can be burdensome. The potential disadvantages that can arise from New Work must be minimized in the coming years through new strategies by HR departments.