Betting on People: Today’s Wish List for Tomorrow’s Workforce
Written by Yesi B. Sevilla
Yesi B. Sevilla serves as the Assistant Director for the Innovation Academy at the University of Florida, and has over 20 years of experience in leadership roles across varying global biotech and healthcare industries, consulting and higher education.
Today’s workplace needs tomorrow’s employees. We find ourselves in a unique environment with five generations of Americans engaging, collaborating, and working together – now add AI and robotics to that mix!
Employees need to be change agents and storytellers who move employers from simply hitting basic performance metrics to performing and making an impact on the world around them. These impacts fuel brand leadership, customer loyalty, and the ability for a company to diversify and expand beyond the next quarter’s sales goals. According to Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, “The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.”
Companies that have embraced this new future have to invest in the intellectual and creative capital of their workforce – this can be costly and doesn’t happen overnight. Recruiters, now more than ever, see the value in finding talent that can bring a creative and innovative mindset from day one on the job.
The critical question then becomes, “Who is the ideal change agent employee?” Successful employers understand that diversity of thought, culture, perspective, and discipline can bring powerful energy and thus results – and yet, through this diversity, there is a commonality to look for.
The change agent of the future is a collaborator and a communicator – someone who also focuses on the development of their emotional intelligence (EQ). The measures for these attributes can be hard for an employer to define. Verification can come through a candidate’s ability to convey their personal brand, their experience, and their “power of pitch”.
Branding, both personal and commercial, is critical in the digital age where access to information is unprecedented and competition based on minimum criteria is at an all-time high. Tom Peters, a winner of the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award, emphasized that “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding.”
Employees need to understand their brand power, and that only comes from true self-reflection, development, and practice. Most employers don’t spend time helping their employees develop this most personal attribute – yet they can spot it, and they are very eager to recruit the candidates who live their brand fiercely.
An essential part of that brand power is the experiences, both in and out of the workplace that candidates acquire. The future change agent should have both directly applicable and transferable experiences. Exposure and success in dissimilar employment, or dissimilar industries where the common thread is the candidate’s ability to adapt and excel can be key.
Here we come to the infamous crossroads – the point at which a candidate looks fabulous on paper seems to fit, and yet can’t effectively communicate the value of what they bring to the organization. If an employee is unable to convey who they are and why it matters, how can they pitch the company’s value and why it matters?
A change agent is powerless without also being a storyteller – a salesperson. Every day employees sell ideas, products, and services. This skill is more than just sharing facts and reciting details, it is about connecting with the customer on a human level. How do you make a positive memorable experience that drives client action/behavior? Candidates that live their brand, have the right experiences, and can sell their worth are the ideal.
Lawrence Bossidy, retired Chairman of the Board and CEO of Honeywell International Inc., said it best, “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not strategies.”