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The Role of CHROs in Managing the “New” Organizational Culture

A panel of CHROs and workforce research experts examined how post-COVID workforce expectations are changing company cultures, how CHROs can help their CEOs change culture to meet workforce and business needs, and how best to engage, develop, and manage talent in the current and future environments. A particular focus was given to the largest growing workforce cohort: Gen Z.

CHROs play a critical role in designing the “new” culture: Moderator Anita Graham emphasized the importance of CHROs to establishing post-COVID workplace cultures and defining new employee value propositions across regions and generations. “As architects of talent we have a unique role in setting the circumstances for embracing cultural changes and maximizing the benefits of a new culture.” Ms. Graham noted that there is a “major experiment in play in how work is done” and that there are both “opportunities and challenges” in implementing flexible work internationally. 

Generation of turmoil: John Della Volpe traced several traumatic and defining circumstances that have molded the growth of Generation Z, including the Great Recession, the opioid epidemic, threats to democracy, school shootings, and climate change. Mr. Della Volpe noted that these collective experiences have led to increased rates of anxiety and depression among Gen Z workers, and that the generation as a whole has been robbed of “unifying events” that other generations have experienced. Mr. Della Volpe also discussed Gen Z’s priorities when determining when and where they want to work, and how employers can have better Gen Z outreach, including by simply listening to them. 

What about deskless workers? Deborah Lovich discussed the changing priorities and expectations of deskless workers, who, despite getting less focus than desk workers, comprise nearly 80 percent of the workforce. Ms. Lovich emphasized the need to expand the notion of better and more flexible work beyond desk workers, and to focus on “flexibility in time” instead of “flexibility in place.” Broader views on flexibility allow us to “imagine a better, more flexible workplace for our deskless workers.” 

Time matters more than place: “If you can constrain typical 8-6 or 9-5 requirements you will increase productivity,” emphasized Brian Elliot, while noting that 93% of surveyed workers wanted flexibility in when they work as opposed to where. Mr. Elliot also noted that flexible work is a "gamechanger for inclusion” because giving more flexibility “boosts a sense of belonging.” 

“Trust is the cornerstone of culture:” Michael Fraccaro provided insights into recent efforts at MasterCard to establish a new and flexible post-COVID workplace culture. “The foundation of our culture is the north star in guiding us in the decisions we make about flexibility and productivity.” Mr. Fraccaro also emphasized the importance of trust in building a successful and sustainable culture, noting that “trust is a critical component – we wanted to make sure that all of the value we have created was based on trust.” Panelists further voiced the importance of communicating to employees that flexible work models will continue to evolve and that nothing will ever be a finished product.

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Authors: Gregory Hoff

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