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Averbook: It’s time for HR to create a new workforce experience

Jason Averbook, Mercer
Jason Averbook
Jason is a renowned Senior Partner and the Global Leader of Digital HR Strategy at Mercer | Leapgen, with a career that spans over two decades in the HR and technology sectors. He is a leading figure in Mercer's global Generative AI strategy and services, spearheading innovative solutions in the HR technology landscape. Jason is also an accomplished author, having penned two books that delve into the future of HR and HR technology, further solidifying his position as a thought leader in the field. From 2018 to 2023, Jason co-founded and served as CEO of Leapgen, a company committed to shaping the future workplace. Now, under the expanded partnership of Mercer | Leapgen, Jason continues to challenge executive mindsets, advocating for a shift from executing technology projects to embodying a digital function. This new alliance amplifies his influence, extending his reach to a global market. In addition to his corporate roles, Jason serves as an adjunct professor at universities worldwide, imparting his knowledge and insights on HR technology and digitization. His leadership portfolio also includes senior roles at industry giants such as PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation. Jason's expertise lies in transforming HR organizations into strategic partners, having collaborated with industry-leading companies to achieve this. Jason's insights into the future of HR and work have earned him global recognition, and he is frequently quoted by top-tier media outlets such as BusinessWeek, CNBC, Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He is consistently ranked among the top three thought leaders in his field.

UPDATE: The survey for the week of June 1 addresses inclusion, diversity and belonging in light of recent protests across the country. Click here to answer this survey. Results and responses will be published later this week.

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In the LeapPulse survey for the week of May 25, we explored a topic front and center on HR leaders’ minds in what Leapgen calls the “Now of Work” that has been created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here, we share results from 155 responses collected May 26-28, 2020, along with corresponding insights and actions that HR leaders should be thinking about.

Finding 1: There is still much unknown about what a physical “return to work” might look like.  Forty-three percent of the respondents say they believe they will be part of a “remote first” workforce, 41% are still working on what the future looks like, and only 16% say “remote first” is out of the question.

Finding 2: Organizations seem to be collaborating with their workforce when making decisions, with 45% of respondents saying they have surveyed their workforce as to their preference on remote or distributed work.

Related: Strategies for navigating the return to the workplace from HRE

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Finding 3: Only 3% of respondents during the week of May 26 say they prefer a strictly “in the office” environment, which is the strongest statement ever made. Forty-nine percent prefer a “work from anywhere” (WFA) model, whereas 48% prefer a blend.

Finding 4: A shocking 80% of respondents claim they have been more productive in their distributed work environment during the last 10 weeks.

Finding 5: Approximately 70% of respondents say their HR organization is operationally organized to support a distributed work environment if that is the direction their organization goes.

Here are a few key action items to take away from these findings:

Action: HR leaders must involve themselves immediately in creating a workforce experience that works for today’s new model of work. There is no more separation between a physical experience of work and a digital experience of work; we have one experience, and the only difference will be from where we experience it.

Related: Read more of HRE’s coronavirus coverage

Action: We have much work to do from a change management perspective to help the workforce of today understand the new model of work within organizations. We also need to ensure managers and leaders have the tools and skills needed to manage a distributed workforce. Our job going forward is not only looking at the HR organization and its level of readiness, but truly looking at the entire workforce and understanding its readiness for the new Now of Work.

Action: We need a new way to understand the performance and productivity of our workforces. With more than 80% saying they are more productive in a distributed work environment, we need to truly look at how jobs are structured and how work overall is structured. We also need to understand the benefits and downstream effects of improved productivity, increased independence and limited face-to-face leadership, which is the primary style managers and leaders know today.

Some of these results are to be expected; in some cases, though, results are not only surprising but reinforce how much our focus as HR professionals needs to completely and permanently shift toward the Now of Work as we move through the remaining weeks and months of 2020.