To say the theme of 2023 is change would be no exaggeration. The business, social, and digital landscapes have completely transformed, reshaping the world of work and creating a new set of leadership challenges. At Recalibrate: The 2023 NeuroLeadership Summit, top management and science experts will take a deep dive into three of the most pressing workplace issues right now.
1. Fixing our broken relationship with work
Both leaders and employees are under unprecedented levels of stress: Forty-eight percent of workers and 53% of managers say they’re burned out, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Special Report. One contributing factor may be their misaligned expectations about work.
For one thing, leaders and employees can’t agree on where people should do their jobs. Management wants everyone back in the office, but in one survey of 185 HR professionals, 73% report having difficulty enticing employees to return. And return-to-office mandates resulted in increased turnover for 71% of the surveyed organizations. On the flip side, workers want flexibility, and a lack of that freedom can negatively affect their well-being. People who are dissatisfied with their level of flexibility at work are 43% more likely to experience burnout than those who have the option to choose.
To reach a compromise, leaders need to come to the table with a growth mindset, which can help them view this divisive issue as an opportunity to find even better ways to collaborate and drive productivity. They can start by cultivating psychological safety, the belief that members of an organization can speak their minds without fearing repercussions. It allows them to have open dialogues with employees about a schedule that satisfies both sides. Leaders should also rethink how they compel people to come back. Rather than enforcing a strict policy with no room to negotiate, emphasizing autonomy and fairness makes employees more willing to cooperate and find a solution together.
2. Trend-proofing DEI
George Floyd’s murder in 2020 sparked a diversity movement in the corporate world — DEI positions were created, public statements condemning racial injustice were made, and fair representation became a top priority in boardroom meetings. However, an uncertain economy has made it harder for companies to sustain their focus.
DEI should remain a priority because it’s not just good for society; it’s also good for business. More than half of 1,395 workers surveyed recently cited DEI as a key factor when evaluating a potential employer. It’s especially important for the younger generation, with 77% of Gen Z and 63% of millennial workers taking DEI into account in their job search. Another advantage of building an inclusive workplace: Diverse teams make smarter decisions because they think more logically and creatively and are better at identifying errors.
The key is thinking about DEI as a business asset with a business value. One way to do that is to create shared goals that tie DEI to business outcomes like revenue. This builds team cohesion and makes it possible to measure the return on these efforts. So, when times get tough, DEI can be a profit-driving tool rather than just a feel-good initiative.
3. Redesigning learning in the age of AI
Since ChatGPT and other AI tools went mainstream, they’ve inspired hope that automation can finally rid us of tedious tasks and boost our productivity. But they’ve also stoked fears that these innovations will wipe out jobs. While it’s still too soon to tell the full impact of this digital disruption, a McKinsey report estimates AI could contribute to an additional 12 million occupational shifts by 2030, particularly among customer-facing and office support staff.
The reality is training and reskilling are now more important than ever — for everyone. People at risk of losing their positions must pick up new capabilities to transition into other roles. Even those with greater job security need to figure out how to use AI effectively. But learning isn’t keeping pace with change: Sixty percent of workers feel they don’t have the right skills to do their jobs, according to a Microsoft survey.
Part of the solution is to accelerate learning by tailoring curriculums to how the brain works. Research shows people absorb and retain information better when they focus on the content, actively engage with it, feel positive about it, and take breaks between lessons. These are the four pillars of NLI’s AGES Model, which can help companies design brain-friendly training programs.
The other part involves mobilizing entire organizations to prioritize and participate in reskilling efforts. Leaders must get everyone on board by demonstrating how reskilling benefits their overall strategy and ensuring management takes shared responsibility in implementing these programs. They can also make learning easier by integrating it into the flow of work so employees can develop new skills on the job. With a clear why and how and effective systems to support change at scale, leaders can help their businesses adapt quickly.
Want to learn more? Sign up now to attend the hybrid 2023 NeuroLeadership Summit Oct. 4-5 at https://summit.neuroleadership.com/register/.