Q&A: The Future of Work with Wagner Denuzzo

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Wagner Denuzzo

As we approach our annual HR and Future of Work global digital summit, we sat down to take a look the trends and events that are impacting the conversation around the Future of Work. In doing so, we speak with a variety of leaders from organizations across the world to better understand how they see things shaping up in the years to come.

Wagner Denuzzo, Head of Capabilities for Future of Work at Prudential, is one of the featured speakers at this year event and was kind of enough to give us some of his time to chat about these issues.

HREN: The future of work conversation is changing right now as a result of everyone shifting toward remote work quicker than anticipated and the way the pandemic has changed what our organizations need from people. How do you think that future of work conversation evolves in the next year as things continue to shift in terms of where and how we work? 

Wagner Denuzzo: We are approaching an inflexion point where the convergence of factors impacting organizations today are fueling innovation and new thinking on how work is defined and how value is created as an outcome of our collective performance across the hybrid workplace. Future of Work is already stale and at the same time ripe for reinvention as we now know it is not enough to think of technology as the only force shaping the future. We must see a business as a system of interconnected resources that operate towards outcomes.

We are now moving the conversation from skills to capabilities, from location to collaboration, from output to outcomes, and from products to services and offerings. We came a long way from where we were just a few years ago when we were seeing the machine as the enemy of the worker. Fears have subsided and we are now transforming even the notion of what is the work, and that’s a very exciting development emerging from the challenges of 2020.

HREN: Obviously a shift in how and where we work leads to some new or altered policies around workplace communication, expectations and experience. What are some of the more important things to consider from a policy angle for HR when looking at the future of work? 

WD: By now I think it is almost impossible to overestimate the power of inclusive practices that are reshaping organizations and brands worldwide. The workforce is now more diverse than ever before and if you think about it, the workplace becomes the catalyst for change, innovation and integration of divergent points of view. It is at work that people from all identities come together in function of achieving collective goals.

While society is still struggling to integrate neighborhoods and the multiple communities comprising our cities, states and countries, the workplace is bringing all of them together to activate the potential of diversity in all its powerful dimensions. There is a lot to be hopeful about and organizational policies must follow the changes already in motion in our communities. Workplace communications must move from sanctioned messages to the voice of the employee with authenticity, openness and transparency.

READ: Future of Work - The Definitive Guide 

Workforce expectations are not homogeneous and we must identify the segments of our population and understand the personas that represent them, and finally, HR practices must focus on reducing the unconscious biases across all talent processes and cycles to account for value that’s hidden as potential in many of the constituencies that are underrepresented.

HREN: I think COVID has made it clear how important it is for HR to focus on employee wellbeing, but I don’t see that going away when the crisis subsides. What should HR teams be doing now to set themselves up for long term success when it comes to creating an environment where employee wellbeing is a big part of their culture? 

WD: It may sound like a cliché, but it does start at the top with senior leaders demonstrating behaviors and actions that are not self-preserving nor protective of the past as they are confronted with multiple challenges and threats inherent in the business world today. Leaders have been responding with empathy and authentic concern for their people and that’s great to see happening across all industries. Leaders know they must respond to crisis with greater compassion for their employees’ personal situations.

The challenge ahead is to maintain an empathic focus as organizations are pressured to show results from their recovery plans and execution of their transformations. The bottom line is that employees are now expecting to be treated as they want to be treated which is inclusive of their needs for flexibility, decision making power and a safe work environment where they can bring their whole selves and grow.

So much has been written about culture, and I honestly believe it is not productive to focus on culture as a product that can be designed, developed and deployed….instead we must see culture as the outcome of our policies, practices and power across the enterprise. Leaders must be comfortable with sharing power. In a distributed workforce, we must decentralize power so teams can achieve better outcomes. And that’s going to be the greatest leadership challenge in 2021 and beyond. How can leaders share power to build collective leadership and achieve greater results?

HREN: Do you see shifts coming in the way we design compensation and benefits packages in the future of work? What are the things HR people need to be thinking about to remain competitive with younger workers?

WD: It is interesting how we go through cycles in which HR is focusing on each area of our ecosystem as if we could change one element without impacting all other parts of the system. In 2020, I have seen greater focus on compensation and total rewards. Companies are exploring new ways to optimize their offerings so we can attract the best talent by offering the best personalized benefits and total rewards. I find this new focus very important as we move towards reinventing jobs, rethinking workforce mix and models to compose the best workforce for the future.

After we reconfigure rewards, we must focus on how to assess performance of teams. Managers will no longer be directing or overseeing the work since teams are being formed cross functionally and in the project based economy, they will have multiple team members working on multiple areas of the business.

Managers will become career coaches, orienting their people in the areas of career, growth, skills and teaming. As career coaches they will need to let go of the idea that they own the talent and that’s going to fuel a dynamic, energized, and high performing workforce. People are expecting to have differentiated experiences to build a breath of expertise that’s not available in most organizations today. The fluid organization will emerge as a faster, more valuable, and most exciting environment for cross generational teams to thrive and grow.

To hear more from Wagner, be sure to register for the event at the link below.

HR and Future of Work - 3rd Annual Online Event

The Future of Work is here. Things like remote work, flexible work hours, learning being integrated into the work experience and upskilling are all happening before our eyes. Now, the Future of Work discussion must shift once again to figure out how to evolve the employee experience further and help humans integrate with technology in ways that will drive efficiency and the growth of new skills. Roles are changing, demands on the workforce are shifting and HR will be at the forefront of what the future of work looks like. Registering and attending this FREE ONLINE event will provide you real strategies for preparing your company and your employees now for the challenges that lay ahead. Challenges such as predicting the skills of the future, strengthening and sustaining the workforce through new digital technologies and fostering a cohesive corporate structure.  Attendees will also be able to put their real questions to the speakers and get valuable, actionable feedback that can be used to plan your organization’s plan for the next 5, 10 and 20 years.

 HR and Future of Work is scheduled to start at 11a EST daily.

100% Online | No travel Required  | Free to Participate | Earn SHRM Credits