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The Modern Employee

~ with Dennis W

In its simplest form we can view an employee as someone who gives their time and skills to make a living. There is more complexity to this though when we go beyond the initial reason why people work (to earn money), to the other end of the spectrum where it becomes about self-fulfilment and purpose.

Evolution in terms of our culture shifts and societal changes do have an impact on the workplace and the makeup of an employee. Yesteryear valued employees who dedicated their professional life to one organisation for most of their career, today we see how employees can be highly valued for exposure to more roles and workplaces that accelerate their learning and development.

Speaking to the corporate, skilled, and career driven employees of today, Dennis talks of the emergence of the ‘Modern Employee’ driven in particular by the younger generation who have adopted modern culture into the workplace. Where their older counterparts put more effort into climbing the corporate ladder, earning more money, and taking directives from seniors in the business, this new type of employee chooses purpose over money and job security, valuing work-life balance and autonomy. For the Modern Employee, their well-being in terms of mental and physical health, as well as their contribution to impact creation, takes precedence over making more money, hands down.

Today's Creative Entrepreneurs and the businesses they build are by their very nature better positioned to adapt to the Modern Employee than their traditional counterparts. Dennis goes on to share how important it is for these newer, innovative, non-traditional businesses to be cognisant of today’s Modern Employees who aptly fit their ever-evolving state of business. Where purpose ranks as high (if not higher than income) for the Modern Employee, it is the newer and more innovative businesses that thrive with employees who fit their business purpose. It is important to embrace this over mimicking the more traditional business with more fixed roles, career paths, and performance indicators. In building the businesses of the future, we need to consider building our infrastructure, processes and ways of work in a way that is future fit for this Modern Employee, as our businesses can only benefit.

We are, however, still learning and revising what it means to achieve this. There was a time where businesses went a little too far to accommodate what they saw as demand for flat structures, or cell based structures. In an attempt to fit the Modern Employee, many employers embraced this. What came off as neglect for structure and a hierarchy approach to business, both employees and businesses realised the merits in fostering a little more structure and leadership positions. The Modern Employee still wants to strive to earn a position in a firm - that has not changed. Throwing all the rules out is not the goal as we try to build our businesses in tandem with the Modern Employee. Leadership has never lost value for the Modern Employee, how we lead them has evolved and come with a different set of expectations

Dennis gives credit to his former employers and places of work for his ever growing passion for employee experience.

“I was fortunate enough to work for businesses where there was a strong sense of employee culture and purpose. I saw first hand how good people can be drawn to a company with a strong culture and values even in instances where they may not be able to pay them the most.”

Dennis goes on to emphasise the importance of company culture to carry a business through difficult times to keep morale high and employees committed. These employees continue to produce quality work because they are purposely driven and therefore remain inspired.

Having first hand experience in trying to manage such an environment, Dennis understands the gravity of the task in hand for building businesses that are fit for the Modern Employee.

“You cannot do anything alone as an entrepreneur, you NEED people. So, you need to find those that care and ARE driven by purpose. When someone wants to be in your workplace, they will do great things because they care. To find people that care, we need to look closely at values, then together, the business and the employee are working towards the same goals.”

Businesses were never the place for human-ness but times are changing. When your business views employees as ‘people’ rather than a ‘resource’ or ‘headcount’, then you have begun to shift into the Modern Employee mindset. This is not about building a ‘nice’ business to work at, without purpose, you will end up with happy people in a business that is lost and suffering. This is about a give and take from both sides.

Dennis urges Creative Entrepreneurs to consider two key learnings when thinking about today's Modern Employee:

“When hiring your next employee, start with value alignment as it is misalignment which leads to hitches between a business and employee. Secondly, AI is going to change a lot of things. When it comes to people, we need to have strategies in place to deal with this. The Modern Employee will be working alongside this technology and we need to accommodate this fundamental shift in employee experience.”

Dennis has dedicated his next venture to building solutions fit for the Modern Employee, notably a plug and play employee benefits & perks solution for SME’s and StartUps that boosts talent attraction, retention and employee happiness.

“Solving niche challenges founders face”.


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