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Recently Accenture released a report, The Human Paradox: From Customer Centricity to Life Centricity, detailing the current mindset of consumers. After surveying over 25,000 people across 22 countries and conducting fieldwork, follow-up surveys, and online focus groups, Accenture concluded that people’s preferences are evolving: “Consumer needs are changing fast—and companies will have to evolve just as quickly.”

The report also informs us that consumers have reached a new level of comfort with being inconsistent about their beliefs. “People are prioritizing themselves … but want to effect change for others. They want to follow their values … but not at the expense of value. They’re taking matters into their own hands … but also want companies to hold their hand.

What does this mean for the business world? Well, employee preferences are likely to be reflective of customer preferences. Leaders need to be ready for employees with ever-shifting needs and opinions. People might prefer meeting virtually one day, but then opt for brainstorming in person the next. People might ask for increased autonomy while also demanding more support and interaction with leadership, while also wanting a more satisfactory work-life balance.

In short, the wants and needs of today’s employees are complex, diverse, and likely to change from day to day—just like the wants and needs of the consumers studied in the Accenture report. Therefore organizations must start viewing each employee as a person first. The Accenture report tells us, “To stay relevant, businesses must move past customer-centric models and embrace a life-centric view that sees people more fully.”

It’s time for a human-centric approach to the workplace. Employees are standing for nothing less.

Leaders Set the Tone

To create a corporate culture where employees are viewed as people first, leaders must set the tone. To determine if your leaders are doing what it takes to connect with today’s employees, here are three questions to ask:

  1. Are your leaders aligned on the need to create “life-centric” experiences and what it means to create life-centric experiences for customers and employees?
  2. Are your managers prepared to support their teams with life-centric experiences?
  3. Is your front line educated on how to treat customers through a life-centric lens?

If a resounding “Yes!” isn’t the response to each of these questions, it’s time to focus on helping leaders adjust their mindsets and behaviors to be more life-centric in their actions.

We’re at a tipping point in workplace history. The employee/employer power dynamic has shifted.

Employees are questioning the way in which work has been conducted for 100 years; they no longer think “because that’s how it’s always been done” is a good enough reason.

And if their organization isn’t changing right along with them, they’re leaving. It’s that simple.

To find success in this new world of work, leaders need to create an employee “life experience” that represents what people most value today in their changing expectations on the environment and culture of where they work.

Three Tips for Success

1. Eliminate the Unnecessary

People have become increasingly less tolerant and less willing to do things they used to simply because they always have. They don’t want to do work if it doesn’t add value. In addition to refusing busy work, people are resisting being forced back into the office if they don’t view it as necessary.

Every leader needs to ask, “Are we setting our people up for success? Are we creating an environment that frowns upon useless routines and practices that add no real value?” When people aren’t bogged down in the check-the-box list of tactics or the areas that don’t truly impact the business, they’re able to create mind space for the approaches, tasks, routines that do deliver real results.

2. Remember, People Don’t Live Two Lives

People are no longer willing to compartmentalize their work self and their personal self. They have one life—one set of expectations. People know it’s possible to be happy at work and happy at home; they don’t want to settle when they sit down to work. People expect work to be fulfilling and engaging. Leaders need to connect their people to the purpose of the organization – every single day. If employees know what they’re getting up every day to work toward and they know that they’re delivering value to the end user, the shift in attitude and performance is astounding. People want to understand that the place they work and the people they work with share the same values as well as the same goals and objectives.

People need to like the teams they work with and believe they’re valued and appreciated by their colleagues and leaders. When this happens, they feel like they’re “in the trenches together” working in a partnership and collaboration, which creates great things. If you have a relationship that doesn’t make you feel good, you’re not going to continue that relationship. Why should work be any different?

3. Leaders Need to Think Like Employees

Today, how leaders think they should lead and what people want out of work are not meshing. As leaders have been overwhelmed with keeping businesses on track, people’s needs and wants have shifted. And the two groups have yet to realign. This is a problem. Because if leaders don’t understand their people’s needs, the business isn’t going anywhere.

While how much one makes will always be a consideration, leaders need to consider the other priorities people have today – the need to feel a connection between one’s personal passion and what one does at work is a must. Therefore leaders need to stop thinking, “Because we pay you, we can tell you what to do.” If a worker is disenchanted, then the paycheck doesn’t matter. Our people are not indentured servants. They want leaders who constantly think, “How can I continue to foster your talents? How can I challenge you to become more?”

Human-Centric Cultures Are a Must

The employee of 2022 demands that leaders step up and recognize that they have needs and wants that are non-negotiable. People don’t want to have to compartmentalize their personalities or interests—they want to find enjoyment and fulfillment at work and play. To appeal to employees today, leaders must help them feel connected to the whole; employees must truly believe that leaders are supporting people in growth and happiness at work.

Leaders and employees must be co-invested. Therefore, leaders must develop a list of shared values. This list must be the core of what the organization stands for. Leaders must walk and talk this list each and every day. And this list must embody what employees feel passionate about. It’s a two-way relationship.

Employees are setting the standards. They are forcing the changes. They are demanding that employers hear them as they shout, “My life is mine!” If organizations don’t respond, if they don’t create human-centric workplaces, then employees will continue to be disengaged and seek new and better opportunities. Is your organization ready to create a human-centric culture?

September 14, 2022

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