2017: Year in Review

 Jan 16, 2018 11:00 AM

2017: Year Round Up

December 17, 2017 
by Lisa Taylor  |  Add Comment



What a year it has been! At the beginning of 2017, the Challenge Factory team set out to answer 10 ambitious questions. We decided that it would be a year when we would be curious about why myths related to the future of work seemed to have more sway than facts.

Sixteen days after we published our list of mythbusting questions, Kellyanne Conway introduced the world to the concept of “alternative facts” and the movement to value myth more than data caught on like wild fire.

2017 has been a year filled with assaults on truth. In today’s times, truth has become subjective. In a recent public address, Canadian journalist Steve Paikin commented on this phenomenon. He said that as a current events journalist, nothing is more infuriating than a guest who makes statements such as, “I don’t know the facts, but here’s what I think…” Somehow, we’ve gotten ourselves into a period when strong opinions or feelings trump facts.

Challenge Factory is focused on the Future of Work – a topic where emotion, feeling and perception often gets more airtime than fact, trend and data. People’s jobs are personal. How we relate to the work that we do and the company, industry or sector we support is personal. This year has taught us that when things get personal, sometimes facts are forgotten.

We were prescient last year in declaring that we would spend 2017 asking questions and getting more data. We were also ambitious. Ten questions are a lot to focus on. Business growth gurus might suggest that ten is too many. Nonetheless, we’ve emerged with a deep understanding of the emerging world of work – with facts, new models and tested tools to support our work in 2018.

Here’s what we learned.

How can small- and mid-sized businesses use career management tools to attract and retain talent?

Retain and Gain: Career Management for Small Business was published by CERIC last January and since that time we have worked with small business owners, industry association leaders and post-secondary institutions across the country to address the needs of this important sector. Small businesses gained new visibility and prominence in the Canadian economic landscape as new legislation was introduced both federally and provincially. Many of the discussions focused on the costs of labour. After attending one of the webinars focused on the books, we were told that it would be used to advance better discussions between government and small business. The book has been downloaded or purchased by more than 2,400 career practitioners, small business owners and consultants. As a resource for small businesses that provides more than 80 low-cost or no-cost activities to better engage and retain talent, this publication proved to be timely.

What has replaced the traditional employee life-cycle and what metrics now apply for priority setting?

It used to be that HR rolled programs out based on standard stages and phases in the employee life-cycle: new hires needed onboarding, high potentials needed leadership development, older workers needed succession planning. Retirees needed invitations to annual holiday parties.

No longer. Today’s employee lifecycle begins before an prospective employee ever signs a contract with you. They have influence over and are influenced by your employer brand as their friends and colleagues share information about your organization on sites such as glassdoor. And long after employees have left your company, their LinkedIn profile still carries your brand, presenting opportunities for these Alumni – former employees of all ages – to be ambassadors, champions, resources and supporters.

Established career paths within organizations are shifting and being challenged as the workforce operates differently than it has in the past. With these shifts come new relationships between employers and employees that are not based on a corporate lifecycle for staff. Instead, they are focused on an evolutionary relationship between a workforce that is evolving its skills and workplaces that are shifting their business models. With everything in flux, new models, such as our recent thinking on chronic vs acute workforce planning become more relevant than outdated career models.

What can the military teach us about talent and leadership pipeline innovation?

The answer to this question is easy. A lot. From our work with former members of Canada’s Special Operations Forces to the country’s enthusiasm for last September’s Invictus Games, military talent in the civilian workforce has been a hot topic this year. We are thrilled to have conducted an important research study that quantifies the specific skills, workstyles, motivators and leadership acumen that Canadians with previous military service bring to the civilian world. We are also excited to have been able to capture and quantify where employers misunderstand this hidden talent pool. Over the next few weeks, new tools emerging from this work will be released, including a self-assessment tool for career practitioners to identify hidden bias and misconceptions. On this topic we were able to get beyond “alternative facts” and find hidden nuggets of truth – that this workforce, who starts to retire from service in their mid-30s, is capable, aligned and ready to help fill some of Canada’s impending leadership and skill based labour gaps.

How can your own in-house Centre for Career Innovation supercharge the value of your workforce?

We’ve been piloting the Centre for Career Innovation through 2017, adding new courses and new partnerships as we learned first-hand how to implement a brand new, platform-based business model. Platforms are not just for Uber or AirBnB. Every organization has platforms they offer for clients, employees, partners or new stakeholder groups. But the business model for your platforms are not the same as product or service based businesses. In a platform based model relationships are currency and the goal is to amplify what others are able to bring to market.

Our platform, The Centre, amplifies the courses of leaders from a variety of disciplines and sectors – all focused on helping individuals, managers and leaders to navigate the changing world of work. Integrated learning paths combine the value of the providers so learners can access what they need when they need it as a one-stop-shop. From micro-learning opportunities of 15 minutes or less to full programs with experiential on-the-job learning to transform skills and performance over time, the Centre’s pilot has been a success. In 2018 we will be working with industry associations across the country to augment member education programs to include Future of Work curriculum and tools.

Why should you consider your employees as equity, not assets?

Across the country, I’ve spoken at conferences about the value of taking a Talent Equity approach to your workforce. Recognizing that assets are things that are owned, used over time and written off for nothing at the end of their useful life, we’ve challenged leaders to stop seeing their employees as their “greatest assets” and instead, rebalance the equation to focus on employees as long-term equity building relationships. In today’s world of work when there are many discussions about the future of jobs this long-term relationship view can seem counter-intuitive. But, as the employee life-cycle continues to be disrupted, establishing new metrics for how to measure the relationship employers have with their workers, beyond traditional engagement metrics can be a differentiator. New tools that leverage AI, such as receptiviti.ai, monitor these new relationships and help employers gain competitive workforce advantage.

In our next newsletter, I’ll share what we learned from questions 5-10 – and let you know what we are focusing on in 2018. I use the word focusing quite intentionally. 2017 has been a great year of broad and deep learning and next year will be applying what we now know to the areas with the most immediate potential for individuals, employers and our country’s well being as we navigate the world of work as Talent Revolutionaries.

PS. In case you are curious, the questions I am leaving until next time are:

1. How can you change careers at any age without risking it all?

2. Can science help control and predict what's next in our careers?

3. What's next in the "freelance economy" and how will it reduce precarious employment?

4. What is the Talent Revolution and who will be its winners and losers?

5. What is the Future of Work?



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