An article in this week’s Time Magazine states ‘Young People are Leaving their Jobs in Record Numbers – And Not going Back‘.
The ‘Great Resignation” as it has been nicknamed reflects large numbers of people choosing not to recommit to regular jobs. This is bad news for companies who may not be able to find the employees they need in order to function.
Not only were there almost 900,000 job openings in manufacturing in the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, or about 9% of all private openings, but more than 300,000 manufacturing employees quit their jobs each month this summer. The Great Resignation is altering the global work landscape. (Industry Week)
An article in ‘The guardian’ suggests “seven things bosses should do to make brilliant staff stay“.
While these suggestions are undoubtedly improvements, it is not enough to make tweaks. This is a problem that goes much deeper and it has to be tackled at organizational level.
We need to ask some fundamental questions if we want to move forward to a world where companies and their employees work together towards a common goal.
Why do we work? Work has almost completely changed its shape in the last 40-50 years, and the aim that work is designed to accomplish should change accordingly. Work can no longer simply be the organization of many elements to achieve a profit for a tiny minority. People today have different expectations and a different covenant with their working life. Our work can be fruitful, intelligent, and lead to success, but people also have to understand that they cannot be totally separate from what they do.
What is meaningful work?
The ultimate goal of work should be to elevate people. This is meaningful work. Many people are frustrated because they are asked to do things that make little sense and they report to people they do not respect as leaders. Much of this is connected with the way companies are designed to operate – as top down hierarchies with silos. There is a much better alternative when we understand that a company is a system or a network of components that interdepend to achieve a common goal. Once this has been internalized, an organization can build the right kind of interdependencies so people do not feel imprisoned in their work and there is intrinsic meaning in what they do. This means neither dependence nor independence, but interdependence. In this way, the individual can understand that by contributing with intelligence, passion and adherence to the company goals, they derive more benefit than they would by working alone (being independent).
How can the company leverage people’s natural desire for elevation? By providing opportunities to participate in something from which the benefit they derive is greater than the effort they put in. For an organization to allow this meaningfulness to exist in the workplace it must start from a vision. It must then create the right interdependencies, after which it is up to the individual to take part and become one with the organization knowing that their own personal life will be enhanced. This is precisely what the multi-project environment can offer: people contribute what they are capable of (their competencies) and the organization capitalizes on this (See ‘The Organization as a Network of Projects‘.) By enabling people to do what they are good at there are immediate good results that reflect back on the worker in a plurality of positive ways.
Who, when, why and how
If we want to concentrate into two words everything we have said about the nature of the organization as a system or network (see post ‘Organizations as Networks: The Physics of Management‘ those two words are: Quality and Synchronization. On a more abstract level this translates into variation and network. This applies not only to production but also to the entire organization. When we address Quality and Synchronization correctly, and the two are completely interdependent, we can guarantee that we achieve our goal in a continuous, predictable and economically viable manner.
The way we live is increasingly shaped by the limited availability of resources and this fact cannot be separated from a different, indeed radically different way of generating and distributing wealth. We are not talking about socialism but a more intelligent way of operating organizations. The way organizations and their employees are organized, the way they interact with each other, the way they cater for the well-being and development of their members is a foundational part of a major shift in our productive lives towards a network of value. This is the great opportunity that companies can embrace to avoid any further great resignation. It requires learning and it requires commitment well beyond adopting a few “good ideas”, suggestions or doing feel good workshops.
Technology can help
Diversity is our natural ally in this. Economic and ecological sustainability go hand in hand and become inherent in a systems approach that recognizes the role of all stakeholders.
Digital transformation, COVID and an uncertain global scenario are awakening us to the realization that we’re all part of a network of networks of conversations. This calls for a different way of working, communicating, growing and making the most of our talents. Diversity is our natural ally in this. Economic and ecological sustainability go hand in hand and become inherent in a systems approach that recognizes the role of all stakeholders. The seed for this shift lies in the way we organize ourselves and collaborate to build a culture that can accomplish ever evolving and increasingly complex tasks. And yes, if we aware of that, technology can help.
When we start to think of an organization as a pool of competencies that work together for well understood and scoped goals, then we can design interactions in a way that make more sense and that are more satisfying. And this is the case whether the people with those competencies are all in one place or distributed around the world. When work is mapped out and the tasks are clear, the appropriate competencies can be scheduled to carry it out. No one needs to look over someone else’s shoulder to “control” what they are doing.
This is why we invested years of work with a team of physicists, mathematicians and software experts to build our digital platform Ess3ntial. It allows companies to bring together on one platform all the competencies they need to accomplish any interdependent set of activities necessary to achieve their goals. Ess3ntial ushers in a new paradigm of work based on competence and cooperation, fuelled by the desire to be part of something meaningful and shared.
Intelligent Management works with decision makers with the authority and responsibility to make meaningful change. We have helped dozens of organizations to adopt a systemic approach to manage complexity and radically improve performance and growth for 25 years through our Decalogue management methodology. The Network of Projects organization design we developed is supported by our Ess3ntial software for multi-project finite scheduling based on the Critical Chain algorithm.
See our latest books Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age by our Founder Dr. Domenico Lepore, The Human Constraint – a digital business novel that has sold in 43 countries so far by Dr. Angela Montgomery and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.