Modern Workforces: Plugged In, But Increasingly Switched Off

By Michael Anderson and Miranda Jefferson

How deep learning is the key to keeping a workforce engaged and productive.

As Australia wakes from its festive slumber, perhaps 2019 can be the year our workplaces become more engaging, creative and collaborative. A recent Gallup study claims that 87% of workers worldwide are disengaged at work, with Australian workers showing similar levels of work disengagement. That study also claimed companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings.

Widespread and pervasive disengagement may come as no surprise, but the findings may uncover a deeper trend of workplaces not deeply understanding their people or embedding key human capacities in creativity, collaboration, communication and critical reflection – the 4Cs. In the organisations we work with, unlocking the 4Cs generates renewed engagement with work and within teams to drive enthusiasm and productivity.

In these workplaces creativity, collaboration and communication aren’t buzzwords they are the lifeblood of the business. These workplaces are embedding the 4Cs to make transformation an active part of the working experience, rather than just throwaway corporate jargon. These organisations – that exist both in the public and private sector – believe learning is key to being ready for future challenges, and they work hard to define, learn deeply and then apply the principles of the 4Cs through every layer of their organisation.

Internationally Lego has successfully refocused its business by embedding creativity and communication for more than a decade. In the early 2000’s LEGO was facing financial oblivion. It had too many products and ineffective communication with its customers. Long story short it devised strategies to engage with customers through clear and deep communication with its customers which led to drastic changes in product lines and other processes. This focus on communication (and creativity) has transformed Lego into a secure and profitable business that has a strong philanthropic presence supporting programs focused on the needs of children including play and education.

Locally, Dresden – an eyewear company born in Sydney’s inner-west embeds creativity throughout its business. Low-cost prescription glasses are not all that new. Competitors in the US have been making and selling low-cost frames since 2010. The point of difference for Dresden, however, is that it has only one frame design with hundreds of colours. These frames are made from plastic waste that would otherwise be increasing landfill. Unlike their competitors, Dresden has simplified the production process – dramatically reducing the price of their glasses – and invested in customer experience. In Dresden’s case creativity is a deeply embedded process that has driven their structure and culture and provided a sustainable business.

Transforming our organisations is not about more ping pong tables and bean bags, nor is it a ‘once and done’ exercise. In our current social and economic environment, it must be how we do business. It is a commitment to keep our organisations growing and changing by understanding what the 4Cs are and how they can be deeply embedded through learning within organisations to create engaging, dynamic and productive workplaces.

For more information, please purchase our book, Transforming Organizations

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