Nowadays traditional hierarchies with top-down structures are giving way to more horizontal governance models at many companies. The original impetus for these developments was the advent of the new information and communication technologies, including the blockchain and artificial intelligence tools, which has led to a widespread redefinition of jobs at the company – what employees do, what a manager’s central role is. The entire ecosystem is becoming more entrepreneurial and the values that underpin the world of work are changing radically. A French report from Deloitte, whose title L’humain, c’est capital has a double sense: The human factor is vital/The human factor is the company’s capital’, reveals that 90% of all French firms say restructuring their organisation is important or very important. In addition, “42% are running or are on the point of launching a reorganisation drive.”
of French companies
are about to launch a reogarnisation drive
The whole question of what the company ought to be doing in-house as well as what it should be doing on the business front has become one of the biggest issues affecting the growth of the firm. Most of the French companies polled by Deloitte seem to be aware that yesterday’s business models won't be able to meet the challenges of today’s world. In this context, the Holacracy model appears to be gaining ground but there is as yet no real established schema or template for dealing with the current upheavals. The capital on which the company builds its business is no longer just financial, but also – even perhaps primarily – ‘human’. One sign of the times is that the issue of employee remuneration is now a more central preoccupation than the corporate and managerial structure. There is now a great deal of discussion among management experts about in-house collaboration, participatory management and collective intelligence, which implies that the whole question of what an ‘employee’ is and does needs to be re-examined.
In France, company employees are generally no longer referred to as salariés (wage-earners) but as collaborateurs, i.e. joint contributors to the overall effort. This change of label implies a change of attitude: employees, the human workforce, are no longer regarded as a mass of labour working purely to make a living but are now seen as central to the company’s drive for value creation. So companies need to remunerate effort and encourage wealth creation. Moreover, the human factor is taking on a whole new meaning now that that robots have entered the workplace. The Deloitte report underlines: “In the revolution that is now underway, it is Generation Y that will make the difference. Born between the early 1980s and the mid-90s, this ‘Millennial’ generation has grown up with connected devices and networked organisations.
They expect a new kind of recognition and new experiences which meet their need to make sense of things. This generation is now posing a challenge to the baby-boomers, who are having to adjust to new roles as mentors and coaches and often find themselves working under younger people. Getting these different generations to work well together will be crucial.” So companies will need to create a new ‘social contract’ based on the human factor. They must learn to think of employees not in terms of capital or resources, much less as part of the running costs, but as a creator of value, a driver of proposals and ideas, and as an agent of change. The new company-employee contract will also need to match the flatter structure taking hold in today’s workplaces.This will enable firms to build a strong company culture, which can get the best out of everyone’s individual efforts and amplify them collectively. By paying special attention to the sum total of human intelligence, by optimising collective working and encouraging high-fliers, the firm of the future will be able to meet the challenges thrown up by digital transformation.
HR policies need to be people-centric
This movement is already underway. The Deloitte report notes that “11% [of the companies surveyed] state that they have an organisational structure built around transversal projects and programmes. This, still low, percentage, signals the emergence of a new organisational model: team networks.” Accordingly, the new social contract should be based on the ‘team network’ concept, as this is the new foundation on which the company culture will be built. In the era of Web 3.0, the workforce will increasingly become employee-consumers, contributing directly, pro-actively, to their company’s business. Caroline Faillet, a conversational marketing specialist who wrote a book called L’art de la guerre digitale (‘The Art of Digital War’), underlines that employees have now become influencers, or at least top ambassadors, capable of having a direct effect on their companies: yet one more reason why HR policies need to become people-centric.