Things have changed….
Recently I read a book where one of the contributors worked with IBM as an external consultant over an extended period of time. As he recalls, in 1979, IBM generated 23 billion dollars in revenue and employed over 300,000 employees and yet, on most workdays, you could have fired a cannonball down the halls of the corporate head office at 5.15pm and hit no-one. Even the most senior executives worked an average of 35-45-hour weeks, took time off when they had minor health problems and enjoyed 5 weeks of real vacation with no interruptions. (Naturally this was before mobiles, laptops and the 24/7 connectedness we ‘enjoy’ today). Employees also took comfort in the belief that they could look forward to a lifetime of job security.
Those days, of course, are now a distant dream. And by way of example; in that same IBM office, employees work 60 to 80 hours a week, they keep working through most health problems, take almost no real vacations and naturally are not counting on any job security.
Yes, things have changed. The world of work has changed and continues to change at a rapid pace. Many employees are always connected and for a variety of reasons rarely take real breaks. Business needs and priorities can change in a moment due to both internal and external factors, and I hear regularly from employees that they are been asked to do more and more with less.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that individuals and organisations build resilience. Having a resilient workforce is about individuals, teams and organisations functioning well, both in normal operating conditions, as well as in times of stress and significant change. A resilient workforce has a protective barrier that enables them to stay healthy, work effectively and maintain productivity during periods of high pressure.
We know that change is constant, and as Charles Darwin noted ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.’
There is no doubt that the workplace can be stressful at times, and yet it is important to remember that for most people, their work is ‘a key determinant of self-worth, family esteem, identity and standing within the community, besides of course, material progress and a means of social participation and fulfilment.’ As described by Dame Carol Black.
So, what do your employees need?
There are three key factors:
- A meaningful, flexible job with role clarity
- A supportive manager and team that is respectful and communicates well
- An organisation that is accountable, has clearly defined goals and capable leaders
If this is a topic of interest for you and your organisation, or if you are interested in our Building a Resilient Workforce program, please feel free to contact Rachel, via;