Showing posts with label VDI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VDI. Show all posts

Monday, November 01, 2021

Working the Great Resignation: How Employers Can Transform Things to their Advantage

Transcript of a discussion on new research into why one of the tightest labor markets the world has ever seen means a transition to a more healthy and sustainable environment for employee well-being.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

The so-called great resignation has anywhere from half to two-thirds of U.S. workers looking for something other than their current situation. Whatever the percentage, there’s no question that workers across the board have and continue to quit in droves.

And whether the exit is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the culmination of decades of various trends, or some combination, the bottom line is that employers need to give workers better reasons to remain.

Stay with us now as we explore new research into why one of the tightest labor markets the world has ever seen means an end to business as usual. We’ll explore ways that the shifting expectations of employees may lead to a transformation of work -- that can work to everyone’s advantage.

To learn more about the transition to a healthier and more sustainable environment for employee well-being and satisfaction, please welcome our guests. We’re here with Amy Haworth, Senior Director of Employee Experience at Citrix. Welcome back, Amy.

Amy Haworth
: Hi, Dana, it’s great to be here.

Gardner: We’re also here with Melissa Swift, U.S. and Canada Transformations Services Leader at Mercer. Welcome, Melissa.

Melissa Swift: It’s great to be here.

Gardner: Amy, the latest research Citrix sponsored into the future of work provides new insights into the great resignation. Are there some myths that people have been holding onto? Were you surprised by the survey results? 

Haworth: The question on everyone’s mind right now, especially our leaders, is what’s happening? Why are people leaving?


And so, Citrix undertook some recent research because we had a hypothesis that some of the exit is due to burnout and some might be due to freak-outs. We found that 35 percent of the respondents to our survey say burnout is the cause of them leaving a job, but only 6 percent said that they panicked and made an emotionally-driven decision.

I also found it interesting that 33 percent left a job just because they wanted to try something new. Some 13 percent saw it as a way to inject certainty into their future.

These data points help both human resources (HR) leaders, and leaders in general, figure out the root cause of the exodus. If we know, for example, that 33 percent just want to try something new then we might be able to do something with that inside of our organizations before they ever walk out the door.

A big hypothesis I hear among leaders inside and outside of our own organization is that there’s something around the salary bubble and this tight competitive labor market. The going rate for many roles is becoming higher and higher. But according to our research, that’s not what’s inspiring workers to seek new roles. Actually, 53 percent of those who had left their role took a pay cut. The drive for more money isn’t necessarily at the heart of why people are making these changes. And I think that’s also an important thing for organizations to be aware of.

Gardner: Because we’re over a year-and-a-half into COVID, this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction. And they’re not just looking to make a quick increase in their salary. This seems to be a strategic, long-term, thoughtful type of reaction. Is that your takeaway?

Workers want the most of their talents

Haworth: Definitely. One of the things that we have probably all experienced ourselves, as well as seen in our colleagues, is a lot of self-reflection. You know, what drives us to get up and make the most of our lives, of our talents, and of our time. What sort of experiences are we looking to have during our lifespan?

What's Behind the Global Worker Shortage

And How to Mitigate Damage to Your Business

We’re seeing this reflected in the labor market around the choices people are making. There’s a curiosity and a desire to explore and maybe take a little bit of risk. We found that 60 percent of the respondents joined start-ups and accepted equity in exchange for salary. That’s new and unprecedented.

Gardner: Melissa, from your perspective at Mercer, and through the research you have done, do you agree that the great resignation is not just a blip on the screen, but is more momentous?

Swift: Yes, absolutely. Interestingly, we did some surveying – what we call an inside the employees’ minds survey -- where we spoke to 2,000 people about their thinking about leaving their roles. What needs did they have that were not being met?

Normally from our benchmark data, about 28 percent of people say they are thinking about leaving their roles -- and that’s exactly, to the percentage point, what we observed in the latest data from our survey. Yet it feels like nearly everybody is moving, but in reality, it’s the same proportion of people who have always considering resigning.

The difference we’re seeing then is, do they then pull the trigger and quit? Is there more willingness to get up and move? That’s where the data Amy is citing – about the underlying motivations for moving – is really fascinating and resonates well with what we have seen in our research, too.

Gardner: Tell us about Mercer, and why these human capital issues are critical and essential for your business.

Swift: We are the consultancy that’s looking to change -- and make better -- the world of work. We have a deep heritage in analytically driven solutions and in understanding the dynamics of pay markets, job architecture, and employee experience.

From a data and analytics point of view, what’s exciting about the work Mercer is doing now is in taking that legacy of deep analysis and contextualizing it to the transformation challenges of today. We’re examining what we can do that’s fundamentally anchored in real evidence that’s going to genuinely change organizations.

Gardner: How should businesses transform themselves to take advantage of these changes? Amy, are workers essentially providing a new set of requirements about their workplace and habits? How should employers react?

Haworth: The power has shifted in a lot of ways. Employee voices are beginning to shape organizational environments. For me and in my career, over a couple of decades, I’ve never seen this before.

I look to the bright spots. For example, what keeps people where they are? And what the new data shows validates the hypothesis of how important flexibility is. Forty percent of the respondents to our survey said they are staying in their current role because they can work with flexibility.

I look to the bright spots. What keeps people where they are? And what the new data shows validates the hypothesis of how important flexibility is. Forty percent of the respondents said they are staying in their current role because they can work with flexibility.

Now, that can mean different things to different organizations -- whether that’s flexibility around time of day or place. But this ability to be empowered is an underlying theme. It just keeps bubbling up, this balance of empowerment and accountability. 

It goes along with trust and flexibility; to marry these concepts together into a new kind of exchange: We will give you trust and flexibility, you in return impact the outcomes and results. And so, even if the music has changed, we’re still dancing the dance of work. But the music has changed -- and it’s empowering employees to have an opportunity. I think of it as a sacred time period to shine and to show what’s possible in terms of rethinking older ways of thinking.

This is what work now looks like. This is how it’s now done. Cal Newport, in one of his books talks about retranslating the factory floor mentality from off the factory floor and into office spaces. But we’re rethinking that. We have such a great environment at this point in time to rethink all the assumptions.

Gardner: Seeing as we’ve been going steadily digital as a society for more than 25 years, there’s been a lot of experimentation already. The gig economy, for example, works out for some, but for others it has not been so great. No security, no benefits, no control over the hours, and so forth.

Are we simply expanding the gig economy mentality? Is that what trust and flexibility mean? Melissa, are we just going to more of a gig economy?

Swift: It’s an interesting question. There’s some skepticism about the gig economy. I would postulate that there are two gig economies out there. There’s one based on flexibility and worker empowerment. And then there’s the kind of accidental gig economy, where people are not being paid a living wage and forced to work multiple jobs.

When you say, gig economy, I picture both. And for the former one, I think you’re right. It is a model we’re going toward. We’re looking at work and decomposing it, then putting it back together by allowing talent to flow to work -- rather than the age-old construct of a job description written a decade ago that we try to force an individual into. I do think that trend is encouraging.

Gardner: Amy, we have been going through a transformation to more digital everything. But like the factory analogy, we have not necessarily caught up to it -- or even recognized it. And so, when we look at the way that corporations and consumers use digital services, it’s on a per-use-basis, or just-in-time.

But the way we hire people, it isn’t really like that. Has the COVID-19 experience given us an opportunity to pause and say, “Wow, we’re out of synch. We’re out of whack between the way services and the service economy now works, and the way people work.”

Work is not one size fits all

Haworth: I hear a very human-centered aspect to what you’re saying. It builds on Melissa’s point of talent flowing in a very different model, to where it’s going to where they can be most successful, and of having opportunities to use their strengths.

I often think about the role of technology in enabling that shift. One of the most exciting things about this Covid experiment is the innovation that’s come from it. The technology space finds and meets these real needs.

How do we create situations where there is still human connection? An interesting piece points to a new combination of technology, talent, and what people need to survive and thrive in both their work and personal lives.

But how do we create situations where there is still human connection? Are we matching the needs of people in new ways? An interesting piece about how this might unfold in the workforce points to a new combination of technology, talent, and what people need to survive and thrive in both their work and personal lives.

How those come together means rethinking what has been driving people to work in a gig format. There’s this unprecedented level of flexibility, but there is also a need to have benefits and to help with the human aspects of who we are. We still need to feel secure and comfortable, and to not suffer emotions like worrying and anxiety that linger in the background. We want to enable everyone to do their best work.

Gardner: Melissa, one of the buzz words of the past few years in business has been the customer experience. And digital everything has increasingly given people what they want and how they want it. As consumers, we have enjoyed that. But, as employees, we don’t necessarily see that same emphasis. That’s why we need to have people such as Amy and an emphasis on employee experience.

Is there a disjoint between what we’ve become used to as consumers, and what we would like to receive as workers?

Swift: Organizations have done brilliantly for consumers on customization and personalization. For example, Netflix is targeting you with exactly the shows you want to watch, et cetera. Whereas, at work, we still treat people as if they were a big block of cheddar cheese, right? We’re all one block of cheese. That’s not a great experience.

One of the interesting things that came out in our Mercer research was that, of the people thinking about resigning, certain groups were considering it much more seriously. For example, 35 percent of Black or African American workers and 40 percent of Asian workers were thinking about leaving, compared to only 26 percent of white employees.

Arm Your Company to Win the Global Battle

Data like that speaks to people having very different employee experiences at work. We need to be a lot more thoughtful, to say, “Okay, it’s not a big block of cheddar cheese. Not everybody has the same needs and the same experiences.” We must create equity of experience across groups, which is clearly not happening now. But then, on the other hand, we need to meet people where they are, and, to your point, that’s what a real consumer-like experience is, and people are not getting that at work. 

Gardner: We’re not just reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, in my estimation. That might be a catalyst, but we are on the precipice of major demographic and social trends, too. We have baby boomers retiring, the re-evaluation of global supply chains, and things like peak oil, peak carbon, and more sensitivity to equality and inclusiveness.

Amy, are we at a point where so many things are changing that there is an inevitability of more worker empowerment? In hindsight, it seems as though this has been building for decades. Do you agree?

Haworth: I do agree, Dana, especially the piece about a building tsunami of the need to be adaptable as humans. I remember at the beginning of the pandemic thinking about human agility as a business continuity strategy.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the field of organizational transformation. Many years before 2020, I came to this realization that that change was no longer something we could manage. What was more valuable to invest in was building resilience in people and enabling them to pivot -- individually and personally.

That means knowing what resources they have available to them and of thinking about what else we need to do, to supplement them at an individual level; to enable them to construct their own toolbox to be agile. When we think about what’s to come, we hear a lot about complexity, that there will not be a day that is less complex than the day we’re in today. It’s just going to continue to get more complex and to move faster.

Technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role in our lives -- and in our work lives. The boundary between the two is permeable forever. It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever go back to a separate boundary between them. So, as we think about the idea of transformation, where we’re headed, and the path we’re on, this concept of peak work that you mentioned, is a period of adaptation.

What is it that we are going to invent and pioneer? Will we leave behind old modes of thinking and make sense of things that have simply expired? And what do we need to be putting in their place to make sense of how we live and work going forward?

Gardner: I suppose another conclusion we can make from what’s going on is that the stakes are quite high. If you’re an employer and you’re not recognizing this as a transformative time, that we’re not going to revert back to the 1950s Americana version of the world, then perhaps being proactive and embracing the transformation is not just a nice-to-have but is existential?

For organizations that don’t, they’re not going to get the employees that they want. They might not even get employees sufficient to do the work at hand. So, the transformation here seems to be absolutely essential. How do we encourage our organizations to be proactive rather than reactive to what’s going on?

Reframe work to fit the future profit

Swift: A big part of the journey is reframing what we’ve traditionally thought of as tradeoffs. The biggest one is, we can either treat our workers well or we can make lots of money. There are so many assumptions that are predicated off of that. And it’s a fundamentally wrong belief. It’s because we haven’t explored what a human-centric workplace might look like.

Coming back to Amy’s comment citing Cal Newport’s work, of the workplace as machine versus workplace as a human engine, we haven’t really tried that latter model. If we come at it from a point of view of where growth is going to come from, is it going to be by prioritizing our human workers and designing systems that use their best to do better -- rather than trying to force fit them into a machine?

We have to reframe our cultural myth-making. As we mythologize the past, we're going to want to keep returning to it rather than saying, "Here's the actual reality. Here's what was good. Here's what was bad." Let's figure out how we can pull on those good threads.

I think that’s the energizing concept. I also think there’s a need for an element of clarity on what the past actually looked like. It’s funny that you referred to 1950s Americana. The experience of the 1950s, for a lot of groups in America, was not so hot, right? If you were a woman, if you were a person of color, the 1950s were rough.

Part of what we have to do is reframe our cultural myth-making. As we mythologize the past, we’re going to want to keep returning to it rather than saying, “Here’s the actual reality. Here’s what was good. Here’s what was bad.” Let’s figure out how we can pull on those good threads more and crowd out the bad stuff, to be more realistic about what the journey looks like because that’s part of the issue. We’ve told ourselves a story about a glorious thing we must return to, and there’s some lack of truth at the heart of that story.

Gardner: Melissa, what you’re saying harkens back to the research that Citrix uncovered around more people wanting to go to startups. There’s something about a startup culture where “we’re all in this,” “we’re all benefiting,” and “we’re creating something new.” Perhaps, non-startups need to leave the past behind and behave more like startups, Amy?

Haworth: Yes. I think there’s so much to be learned from some of these responses around the startup draw: The chance to pioneer something, the chance to start with a blank slate. And one of the things I think is so interesting is the connection to impact that startups have.

Oftentimes, heritage companies have a lot more distance between what originally propelled them as a company and what their business is now, for example. Maybe the mission is diluted among many things. Startups, on the other hand, typically have a very central focus and it’s very easy to see that connection to what I get up and do every day by solving an impactful problem or creating an awesome experience.

And so, the lesson that any company can take is a closer connection to a meaning. That’s definitely been a resounding drum beat over the last 18 months, this need to connect to meaning and impact, which is a very human need -- needing to be seen, to know we’re making a difference. That move to the startup culture is potentially a symptom or outcome of that deeper need -- no matter if your company is 150 years or five days old.

That’s something I would encourage all organizations to pay attention to.

Gardner: I’ll play the devil’s advocate to my own observation. Just like there’s myths about the 1950s, there are myths about startups, too. Sometimes not everyone is a rock star. Not everyone is under age 35 and can work 90 hours a week. Not everyone is of a certain demographic slice. So, perhaps we should borrow some things from the startup culture, but maybe not everything.

Once again, we’re back to this recurring idea of hybrid when it comes to the future of work.

Swift: I love what Amy was saying about the role of purpose, because that’s something I’m writing a book on, about the future of work. And in my research, it’s interesting, you have folks in the 1800s who studied work. They talk very clearly about how having a purpose at work is one of the things that makes life meaningful.

This is an age-old idea that we’re coming back to and that the startup environment understands. We want to know, “This is the purpose of my work,” and, “This is the impact that my work has,” right? “Here’s how I play into the overall schema.”

It’s interesting that those same researchers in the 1800s also identified work-life balance as something that makes work, work -- and makes life work. It’s funny because we don’t think about those concepts dating back that far. And that’s where the startup world generally falls flat on its face.

To your point, there is some work-life balance that’s been created in the corporate arena, and some purpose-driven work and impact from the startup world. How do we marry those up together, and where do those two things best come together?

I think it’s fundamentally being unafraid to redesign work. That’s not just tweaking job descriptions. It’s not all these little things you do around the edges. It’s fundamentally taking a step back and saying, “Is this work being done properly on a micro-level, in this role, and also on a macro-level across this organization?” Let’s take a step back. Could we do the whole work of this company differently? That’s the energy that people are really hungering for today.

Gardner: Right. Might as well look to do everything differently, because we’re at a time when the technology has never been more capable and pervasive.

Amy, as we’re transforming the very concept of work, should we recognize that it’s intrinsically tied to technology? For those organizations that are still doing “digital transformation,” it seems you don’t even need the word “digital” anymore. It’s just transformation.

Tech transforms how work happens

Haworth: Every transformation does have to be digital. Most every worker must have that digital-first mindset these days because there’s such opportunity there.

As we seek equity and understanding of the different experiences people have, we can give thought to the role technology can play in building that equity and in making sure there’s equal access no matter where you’re doing your work. Work no longer must be a place. Work is something that we do that generates value and impact.

Technology can establish a shared digital workspace, where we can convene, connect, and provide a common, transparent environment. All teams can have consistent access to applications and information to efficiently collaborate on projects to get work done, wherever that might be.

Technology can establish a shared digital workspace, where we can convene, connect, and provide a common, transparent environment. All teams have consistent access to applications and information to efficiently collaborate.

These capabilities open up so many interesting opportunities for organizations to consider, even as they’re making decisions about redefining work and going beyond the edges of our current boundaries for work. They can be bold and ask big questions. A lot of what we thought was true has been shaken up. I hope it’s a call to all of us to take action and to question more regularly.

Ask, “Is that true? Does it have to be true? What if it’s not true?” And I think this will open up a lot of possibilities for the role that technology can play in redefining how work is done.

Gardner: Melissa, while all transformation these days might be digital, we can’t look to the IT department to do this, right? The IT department has a lot to offer, but the architecting and re-architecting of work strikes me as something that should be inclusive of so much more.

Who or what is in a position to look at the big picture and make the grand architectural adjustments that are clearly needed? How does this get managed? Who governs it?

Swift: It’s a wonderful question. For me, the ideal governance sits between three figures. To your point, the chief information officer (CIO) needs to be integrally involved. Then the chief human resources officer (CHRO), because so many of these decisions are about people and how they do their work. And the last person who needs to get roped in more, and who is not as involved in many organizations, is the chief financial officer (CFO).

That’s because so many of the decisions that short-circuit transformation have to do with short-term cost objectives. It becomes a failure to play the long game, and to take an investment approach. It requires challenging the ways of working long-term because there is always going to be that middle-distance, where they will say, “Well, we made a change and it’s not as efficient in the exact near term as it has been.” That’s where you get hesitancy sometimes from the finance function, understandably.

That’s why you need that three-headed governance of technology, the money, and the people to all come together. And then you need genuine oversight from chief executive officer (CEO) and at the board level. “How we do work” is a CEO- and board-level issue. It’s great that we see some of the issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion starting to migrate up to the CEO and board levels. We need more awareness around the working experience and for it to be owned at that elevation.

Gardner: People have been railing against short-term, Wall Street objectives and the corrosive impact that’s had on business forever. It strikes me that we are really talking about rethinking of more than just work here. Maybe hyper-capitalism isn’t sustainable for lots of reasons.

Amy, any thoughts about that? As long as Wall Street demands awesome quarterly reports, how can we expect companies to change in a long way, that allows them to transform?

Haworth: It sounds like a paradox, Dana, but I think the solution is the same. When we invest in the human element at work, when we put our talent first and center, business performance skyrockets.

Getting smart about putting talent at the center -- really designing for human beings, not gears in a machine -- is going to enable companies to make Wall Street happy. But it requires a mindset about it being an investment. It means the CFO understands there is a clear return on investment (ROI) for human-centered programs: investment in empathy building, learning, and upskilling. These have a dividend that will make Wall Street very happy.

Yet shifting what comes first and what comes later, that’s kind of chicken-and-egg. A big piece of it is being willing to try, being willing to experiment. When I think about what companies need to do, it’s like taking the position of a scientist or designer. You must be willing to have a hypothesis and test it. See if it proves out, and then make the decision to scale. Running lots of little experiments is going to help us all figure out what the future really needs to be to meet people where they are.

Gardner: Melissa, regardless of what’s happened in the past, this seems like an unprecedented opportunity to transform and create a new set of long-term priorities. It seems like it’s inevitable. Let’s examine the inevitability of transformation. What else can organizations do to overcome formally intransigent aspects of their culture?

Listen and meet workers’ needs

Swift: It’s interesting to think about how fundamental some of the unmet needs of workers are right now. In our data, workers rated things like physical health and mental health as in their top three unmet needs. That to me is really striking because, if you think about where those things are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they are pretty low in the pyramid.

That provides in some ways the business case for transformation because, right now, if we are not meeting our workers’ most basic needs, then everything else we might expect flows from there. And, again, we can’t just make the surface, incremental changes. We must go in and re-architect at the heart. Why? Because right now we can’t even hit the basics.

The psychological or emotional journey that organizations need to go on means taking a step back and saying, “You know, it’s not that we are doing pretty okay right now, and we need to do a little better. It’s fundamental. There are aspects about work here that are broken. But we have this incredible opportunity to fix it.”

That’s the really energizing thing about talking about transformation in the current moment.

Gardner: Amy, how does Citrix factor into this future of work and where can people go to learn more?

Haworth: We have on a lovely section just full of great research, thought leadership, and perspectives. It’s called Fieldwork. I recommend that your listeners and readers take some time to check out what’s there. We keep it updated with new research and new tools. Our goal is to help us all think about building the future of work together, challenge old assumptions, and provide useful tools to help us move forward.

Gardner: Melissa, how is Mercer helping in this transformation of work? Where can people learn more about it?

Hybrid Work Has Opened the Door

To a New Kind of 'Gig-with-Benefits' Model

Swift: We help companies with an interesting array of challenges right now. Everything from how to increase the many dimensions of flexible work -- not just the where, but the who, what, when, and why. That extends to full-scale work design assistance, as well as how to recreate certain roles to grapple with the effects of labor shortages by effectively creating a better version of that job by fundamentally redesigning the work itself. Again, not just tweaking the job description but everything in the ecosystem around it.

We’re answering such questions as, How do you create systems of incentives so people are incentivized to do the right thing in a transformation context? How do you better listen to your employees and understand their needs to keep up with them? We take a holistic approach. On, you can find a wealth of thought leadership and details on our solutions.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on the great resignation and what it means for employers seeking to better attract and retain workers.

And we’ve learned how the shifting expectations of employees may very well mean a broader transformation of work – one that can work to everyone’s advantage. So, a big thank you to our guests, Amy Haworth, Senior Director of Employee Experience at Citrix. Thank you so much, Amy. It was really interesting.

Haworth: Thank you. I appreciate it, Dana, and Melissa.

And we have also been here with Melissa Swift, U.S. and Canada Transformation Services Leader at Mercer. Thank you so much for your contribution, Melissa.

Swift: Great to be part of the discussion.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect future of work innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Citrix-sponsored BriefingsDirect insights discussions.

Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on new research into why one of the tightest labor markets the world has ever seen means a transition to a more healthy and sustainable environment for employee well-being. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2021. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Citrix Research Shows Those ‘Born Digital’ Can Deliver Superlative Results — if Leaders Know What Makes Them Tick

Transcript of a discussion on new research into what makes the “Born Digital” generation tick and the paybacks and advantages of understanding and embracing this new breed of employees.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Self-awareness as an individual attribute provides the context to better understand others and to find common ground. But what about self-awareness of entire generations?

Are those born before the mass appeal and distribution of digital technology able to make the leap in their awareness of those who have essentially been Born Digital? Does the awareness gap extend to an even more profound disconnect between how today’s younger generations think and those more likely to be in the leadership positions in businesses?

Do the bosses really get their entry-level cohorts? And what, if any, impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had in amplifying these perception and cognition gaps?

Stay with us now as we explore new research into what makes the Born Digital generation tick. And we’ll also unpack ways that the gap between those born analog and more recently can be closed.

To learn more about the paybacks and advantages of understanding and embracing the Born Digital Effect, please welcome Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Minahan: Thanks for having me, Dana.

Gardner: We’re also here with Amy Haworth, Senior Director of Employee Experience at Citrix. Welcome, Amy.

Amy Haworth: Thanks, Dana. It’s great to be here.

Gardner: Tim, your latest research into what makes those Born Digital tick bucks conventional wisdom. Why did Citrix undertake this research in the first place?

Minahan: This is the first generation to grow up in an entirely digital world. In another decade or so, the success or failure of businesses – the entire global economy -- will be in the hands of this Born Digital generation. 


We wanted to get inside their heads to see what makes them tick. That helps us to help our customers design their post-pandemic work environments and work models to best support the needs of this emerging group of leaders.

The good news is that the Born Digital generation -- those born after 1997 – is primed to deliver significant economic gains -- some $1.9 trillion in corporate profits. But there certainly were some divergences in what they need to do that and how they view work.

Certainly, the pandemic has forever changed the way we all work, but it had a particularly profound impact on the Born Digital generation. Many of them began or had their early careers during the crisis. Remote and technology-driven work is all that they have ever known. Organizations need to be aware of these scenarios as they plan for the future so as to not leave out or disengage from this future generation of leaders.

The Born Digital difference

Gardner: Tim, like me, you were born analog. What surprised you most about this generation?

Minahan: Certain key findings debunked a lot of the myths around what motivates these workers. Our research reveals a fundamental disconnect. First, job stability and work-life balance are what matter most to these employees.

Citrix Research Shows Leaders Disconnected From Younger Employees.

Largely faced with an uncertain job environment, these younger workers are most focused on fundamental work factors like career stability and security. They also want to work in their own way. So, they are looking for a good work-life balance and more flexible work models.

And this is poorly understood by leaders, who -- in the same research – showed that they think, behind access to technology, the Born Digital generation values opportunities for training and meaningful, impactful work. And, while those are important, they’re further down the list.

It turns out that job satisfaction, career stability and security, and a good work-life balance ranks above compensation and the manager they work with.

And it’s become very clear -- business leaders overestimate the appeal of the office. Ninety percent of Born Digital generation employees do not want to return to the office full-time post-pandemic. They prefer a more flexible or hybrid model, which is in stark contrast to the leadership where 58 percent believe that young workers will want to spend most or all their time working in an office. And this is a real Catch-22 that we’re all going to need to grapple with not years from now but in the next few months.

Gardner: Amy, does the way companies misinterpret their employees mean we need an employee experience reboot?

Haworth: After reading this research, I felt an overwhelming sense of the importance of listening. That means getting really curious, and not only curious at big moments, like returning to the office or moving a vast number of employees out of offices -- but getting curious all the time.

If we design employee experience strategies around old assumptions, we're missing each other in the workplace. Experiences are built in the day-to-day moments. We need to build the hybrid workplace around trust and inclusivity.

It was so clear to me that if we are designing employee experience strategies around old assumptions, we’re missing each other in the workplace. One of the frameworks for employee experience we use heavily at Citrix is the idea that experiences are built in the day-to-day moments. The touchpoints that employees have in the human space, the physical space, and the digital space. At Citrix, we have rethought and rebooted our own experience, coming back into a hybrid workplace, and built around the idea of trust and inclusivity.

And it’s interesting in this research how much trust in autonomy and in inclusivity emerged as critical components for the Born Digitals. Interestingly, that seems to extend into other generations as well. It became the framework for us and our approach to hybrid work -- a philosophy -- and a way to build the infrastructure for that. We wanted to record and cultivate trust in our own culture.

Work together, even when apart

Minahan: Visionary leaders are using this moment in time to rethink future of work models and turn their work environments to competitive advantage. A growing number of our customers are now trying to navigate through these situations in their post-pandemic work model planning.

One of the big topics is not just about where people work. I think there’s a false-positive that some executives are doing with the belief that everyone wants to get back to the office full-time. Because the initial burst of productivity has declined, they’re using the last 15 months as a proxy for what remote work is.

Let’s be clear. The last year and a half has not been remote work, it’s been remote isolation. There needs to be a deeper level of understanding, as Amy said, as you move into your planning of what truly motivates people. You need to truly understand what’s going to attract the right talent and importantly what’s going to engage them and allow them to be successful in driving the business outcomes that you’re hoping for them to achieve.

Gardner: I find it not just a little ironic that we’re going to be seeking to better listen and better communicate when we’re not together in an office. There may be an inability to see the trees for the forest when you’re in the same office going through the same work patterns. Maybe breaking that pattern leads to even better communication. Amy?

Haworth: I think you are spot-on, Dana. One of the metaphors I’ve come to love is the idea of being at the ocean. If you’ve ever been anywhere where the tide comes in, at first you can’t see certain things. Then as the tide goes back out, there are tide pools full of life and vibrancy. They have been there all along, but you just couldn’t see them.


And that clearly emulates what is happening in organizations. These opportunities around hybrid work give us another chance to break the script. It helps us discover pieces in our organizations that may not have been working that great to start with and were causing friction all along.

Distributed work is happening. We’re having to be more explicit about the conversations around communication, collaboration, the expectations of each other, and what it means to help each other. Raising up those things anew is so important no matter the setting, no matter the workplace.

We’re now in a unique environment where we have this window of time to get very specific and not take it for granted – but to rebuild with intention. I truly hope that organizations are smart and do that with a concerted effort, with concerted energy, and then reap the rewards.

Distributed and dynamic workplaces

Minahan: Amy hits on two great points. One is there’s a real risk, as we move to hybrid work, that we create a culture of unintentional biases for those office-first-focused folks who may be conducting meetings or collaboration styles that preclude, or don’t include, folks working remotely.

It isn’t just about having the right technology in place, it’s also about having the right policies in place. The cultural aspects and expectations need to create a workplace that has inclusivity and equality -- no matter where work is done. The reality is we are going to continue to work in a very distributed mode, where certain team members won't all be in the same room.

Those Born Digital Will Soon Determine Your Business's Success.

You must harness technology, institute policies, and set the expectations that remote workers are still active participants in the process and that information flows freely. That means investing in collaborative work management solutions that create a secure digital collaboration environment. These solutions align people around similar goals and objectives and key results (OKRs) that have visibility into the status and into how projects are progressing, whether you’re in the office or somewhere else.

By understanding the dependencies between the dispersed teams and other actions that need to be done, you create the business outcomes you want. These are the types of tools and policies that support the hybrid work environments that people are so desperately trying to create right now.

Gardner: The last year and a half has given us an opportunity to change the playbook. What we’re hearing from the younger generations is they’re not opposed to that. As we seek to best change the playbook, what has the Citrix research told you?

Born free to choose how to work

Minahan: We engaged with two external research partners on this, Coleman Parkes Research and Oxford Analytica. They surveyed and did qualitative interviews with more than 1,000 business leaders and more than 2,000 knowledge workers across 10 countries. To prepare for the future, it was very clear that leaders need to get a grip on the expectations and motivations of this Born Digital generation and adapt their work models, workplaces, and work practices to better cultivate them.

There were three primary findings. You should focus on where this generation wants to work. Prepare them for success in distributed work environments. Companies need to give employees freedom to choose where they work best.

You should focus on where this generation wants to work. Prepare them for success in distributed work environments. Companies need to give employees freedom to choose where they work best.

To Amy’s point, it’s about fit and function. Sometimes it is important to come together in offices for collaboration and social and cultural connections. For other forms of work, it is optimal for individuals to have the space they need to think, be creative, and succeed. The Born Digital cohort wants and needs that flexibility -- to have both work environments purpose-fit for the work they need to get done.

Secondly, beyond where they work, the five-day work week that has vestiges of the industrial revolution is probably not appropriate. Same for the 9 am to 5 pm workday. We’re finding that a lot of folks need to take a break mid-day to recharge. So instead of thinking about one big block of time, think about sub-blocks that allow workers to optimize the work-life balance and to recharge. That drives the best energy to do your best work. And this is a very clear finding from the study on how the Born Digital want to work.

The last part is about how they work. They want autonomy and the opportunity to work in a high-trust environment. They want to have the right tools to have transparency, collaborate, and drive connectivity with their co-workers and peers -- even if they’re not physically in the room together. They want compensation that recognizes and rewards performance, as well as strong and visible leadership.

And so those are some of the key attributes that are important as companies design their new work models.

Gardner: Amy, we’re now talking about things like trust and motivation. It seems to me that those are universally important, whether you’re born with digital technology or not.

Why does the digital technology generation have a stronger concept around trust and motivation? Is there a connection between being Born Digital and those intrinsic-but-profound values?

Haworth: Think about how these Born Digital knowledge workers have come into the workforce. Most have had some level of college education. They were used to being very autonomous university students as they figured out their activity-based work habits. How do they get the most done? Where does work happen best -- in the library, or in their dorm rooms, or apartments?

The Future of Work Demands Flexibility,

Choice, and Autonomy.

The transition into an office is simply another step in developing a capability that they’ve been building for years. And so, if organizations are not leading with trust, transparency, autonomy, and allowing the digital tools they’ve come to expect and leverage in their educational path, that feels like there’s a massive disconnect. They’re not only undoing some of the amazing self-leadership that these Born Digitals have grown within themselves, but organizations are also depriving themselves of rethinking the ideas that the Born Digital generation is coming up with.

They are more accustomed than some of their predecessor generations to having seniority when it comes to using digital tools. And as we take an opportunity to flip our mindset, most of the time business leaders with more seniority are thinking, “Well, we have to groom this next generation of leaders.”

We may want to flip that mindset. Instead, think about how this new generation of leaders can groom the current leadership through things like reverse-mentorships or by sharing their voices. A manager with a team that includes Born Digitals can ask for their input and give permission for them to help shape the future of work together.

The organizations that do so are going to be much more well-suited to the economic benefits of this talent, as Tim highlighted at the beginning. It’s latent talent until we unlock it. It will take a conscious decision of leadership to think about how they can we best learn from this generation. They have a whole lot of things to teach us from what they envision as the future of work.

Increase your app-titude

Minahan: Amy brings up a good point that showed up in the research. That is dissonance between what older workers and leaders perceive as their experience and that of the Born Digital generation. That gap extends to both in the tools they use to do their work, as well as on how they communicate.

On the technology side, for example, young workers and leaders inhabit very different digital worlds. The research found that only 21 percent of business leaders use instant messaging apps such as Slack or WhatsApp for work, as compared with 81 percent of Born Digital employees.

If you want to build trust and communication, it’s very hard if you are not hanging out in the same places. Similarly, only 26 percent of business leaders like using these apps for work compared to 82 percent of the Born Digitals. Clearly, there are very different work habits and work tools that the Born Digitals prefer. As leaders look to cultivate, engage with, and recruit these Born Digital workers, they are going to need to understand what tools to use to communicate to foster the next generation of leaders.

Haworth: That statistic also caught my eye; that 26 percent of business leaders like using these apps for work compared with 82 percent of Born Digital workers. Every organization that I have spoken with in my career, honestly, but especially in the last 36 months, has talked about how hard it is to get messages out into the organization. And when you step back and say, “Well, how are you trying to communicate that message?” Oftentimes what I hear is a company intranet or email.

Citrix Research Shows Leaders Disconnected From Younger Employees.

If we take something as incredibly important as communication and think about what could be applied from this data to specific segments -- to communication, to leadership, to recruiting -- this becomes a really salient point and very relevant for the planning and strategy of how to best reach these workers.

In the employee experience space, one of the key ideas is not everybody is the same. Employee experience is built around personalization. Much of this research data is rich with aligning a strategy to personalize the experience for the Born Digitals for both their own benefit as well as the benefit of the organization. If people only take one thing from this report, to me that could be it right there.

Minahan: Yes, we could fill up a whole list of Slack conversations with that topic, absolutely!

Gardner: It strikes me that there is a propensity for these younger workers to naturally innovate. If you give them a task, they are ready and willing to figure out how to do it on their own. Older workers wait around to be told how to do things.

I wonder if this innovation propensity in the younger workers is an untapped, productivity boom, and that allowing people to do things their own way -- as long as the job gets done -- is a huge benefit to all.

Innovation generation integrates AI

Minahan: I think you are onto something there. With the do-it-yourself or YouTube generation, you see it in your own children, they teach themselves or find ways to figure things out -- whether it’s a math problem or a hobby.

Best practice sharing mentoring as a benefit applies to solving problems, of how to adapt and learn. Reverse mentoring, formal or informal, has a big opportunity to raise all boats.

Amy mentioned earlier the importance of reverse-mentoring, and that’s no joke. We first talked about it as teaching the older generation how to use technology. But there is a best-practice-sharing benefit as applies to solving problems, of how to constantly adapt, and continue to learn. That reverse mentoring, whether it’s formal or informal, has a real big opportunity to lift all boats.

Gardner: As these folks innovate, we also now have the means to digitally track what they are doing. We can learn, on a process basis through the data, what works better, which allows us to improve our processes constantly and iteratively. Before, we were all told how to do things. We did it, and then we redid it, and not much changed.

Is there an opportunity here to create a new business style combining the data-driven capability to measure what people are doing as well as having them continue to do it in an experimental fashion?

Haworth: Yes, there is now an amazing opportunity to think about how machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can become a guide. As the data fuels insights, those insights can help make workers more effective and potentially far more productive.

When I think of reverse-mentoring, I not only would love to have a Born Digital mentor me on technology, but I also wouldn’t mind having an AI coach tap into places where I’m missing things. They could intervene and help me find a better way, to guide my work, or to think about who else might be interested in this topic. That could fuel an interesting discussion and help me make connections within my organization.

Those Born Digital Will Soon Determine Your Business's Success.

The Born Digital generation also specified in the Citrix report how distinct their experiences are when it comes to building new connections within organizations. Technology can play a role in that, not only by removing friction to give us time to connect with other human beings, but to also guide us to where those connections might be productive ones. And by productive, I don’t necessarily mean only output, but where it leads to idea generation, further innovation, scaling, and to creating coalitions and influence that lead to desirable outcomes.

Minahan: The world is moving so quickly today. Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace; it’s changing how we engage and do business. The growth-hack skillset for the individual career right now is those who can continuously learn and quickly adapt. That’s going to be critical.

We think the Born Digital generation has a lot to offer on that front, and they can teach the entire culture to support that. As Amy said, then augmenting that culture with AI or ML and other tools so that it becomes an institutional upgrade in skills, knowledge, and best-practice-sharing -- so that everyone is absolutely performing at their best and everyone can begin to see around corners and adapt much quicker -- that’s what’s going to create the high-performing, curious, and growth-oriented organizations of the future.

Gardner: How do we now take this research into action? How do we move from the observation that there is an awareness and perceptions gap -- and maybe $1.9 trillion at stake -- and go about self-evaluating and changing?

Listen fully to learn and lead

Haworth: Number one for me is to listen. And listening is hard for some. It requires time, but I will advocate that it doesn’t take a lot of time.

I have a little game to offer everyone. It’s called 5 for 5, which means talk to five people with five questions, and ask those five questions to all of them. Don’t defend. Don’t explain. Just get genuinely curious -- and start with your Born Digitals. Most organizations have an easy way for leaders to find them. They might be on your team. They might be your kids, your nieces, your nephews, or a neighbor down the street. But spend a little bit of time just listening.

And from those five people, we know you are likely to find some themes, just those five conversations. And then put it on your calendar to do that at least once a quarter. These are the most interesting opportunities leaders have to inform strategy, to think about what’s next, and to learn something about a person that they may never have known before.

Talk to five people and ask five questions of all of them. Start with your Born Digitals. You are likely to find themes that will inform strategy for leaders.

We recently went through a cycle of this internally at Citrix as part of our hybrid philosophy building and to help develop the capabilities and tools we need in the organization for teams to be effective. I happened to be aligned to interview our Born Digital segment. Most of them were fairly new in their careers, and some had started during COVID.

My favorite question was, “If you were a manager right now, what would you be focused on?” Across the board, each of these interviewees, employees at our organization, said, “I would be very clear on what’s expected as far as working hours and when it’s okay to log off.”

That insight alone was validated in the research. Not only is this generation looking for job stability and security, but they are also very likely to not be the ones to ask for permission. They are looking around to figure out what’s okay and not okay.

We need to be clear about helping them define boundaries and to model those boundaries because Born Digital doesn’t mean born burnt out. We want to be sure that we keep the engagement, curiosity, innovation, creativity, and energy that the Born Digital population brings into organizations. We need to help them be successful by developing a sustainable pattern for work. 

Gardner: Tim, how do you see us closing the gap in the near term?

Keep it simple to reduce daily din

Minahan: The convergence of the digital workspace demands tools that facilitate open and equitable collaboration and transparency across teams, whether they are in the office or working remotely. That includes driving continuous learning and best-practice-sharing and achieving better business outcomes together. The physical workplace needs to be fitted for purpose when is it important to come together, when we do benefit from that, whether it’s for collaborative projects or the social aspects, such as for creating that water-cooler dynamic.

The Future of Work Demands Flexibility,

Choice, and Autonomy.

As Amy just mentioned, which I think is so critically important, the ultimate success in this is going to require how you transition your culture. How do you make it okay for people to turn off in this always-connected world? How do you set norms on how we create an equitable, inclusive workplace for those that work in the office and those who work remotely?

Amy has put in place here at Citrix a very good framework. Similar to that, we are advising our customers to triangulate between a Venn diagram of creating the right digital workplace, coupling it with the right purpose-built workspace, and then enabling it all with common policies and culture that foster equality, inclusiveness and focus on business outcomes. 

Gardner: Is there something about the way technology itself has been delivered into the marketplace by vendors, including Citrix, that also needs to change? When we talk about culture, behavior, and motivations, that’s not the way that technology has been shaped and delivered. Is there a lesson from this research?

Haworth: Great employee experiences are shaped by empowerment of employees at a very personal level. When technology guides and automates work experiences to free the person up from the noise, the friction, of having to log-in to multiple tools, to context switch -- all of that creates a draining effect on a human. The technology is now positioned to remove that friction by letting technology do what technology does best, which is to automate, guide, and organize based on personal preferences.

New innovations from platforms such as Citrix help unite work all in one place to simplify tasks for the employee. It means there is more that the employee doesn’t have to think about. It’s seamless. That quality of interaction is a key lever in creating positive employee experiences, which lead to engagement and commitment to an organization in a world that is fraught right now with finding talent, with fighting attrition, and cultivating the right talent to innovate into the future. All of these elements really matter, and technology has a big role to play. 

Gardner: It sounds like automation is another word we should be using. We talked about using ML and AI to help, but the more you can automate, even though that sounds in conflict with allowing people to be flexible, is important. 

Minahan: Amy hit the nail on the head. It is about automating and guiding employees, but it’s also removing the noise from their day. The dirty little secret in business is each of these individual tools that we have introduced into our workday on their own added productivity, helping us do our jobs, but collectively they have created such a cacophony of noise and distraction in our day, it’s actually frustrating employees.

If you think back to pre-pandemic, one of the dynamics was a Gallup study that showed employees were more disengaged than at any other time in history. Some 86 percent of employees felt they were disengaged at work because they were frustrated with the complexity of the work environment, all the tools, the apps, and chat channels that were interrupting them from doing their jobs. And that’s only been exacerbated throughout the pandemic as people don’t even have a clearly defined beginning and end to their days. And so it continues.

As we introduce technology, we need to mute the noise. We need to automate mundane tasks so employees don't change context every two seconds. Create a unifying workspace that allows access to all tools and content in the right context.

One of the things we need to be thinking about as technologists, as we introduce technology or we build solutions, is how do you mute this noise? How do you automate some of the mundane tasks so that employees don’t need to switch context every two seconds? How do you create a unifying workspace that allows them to have access to all the tools, all the apps, all the content, all the business services they need to get their job done without needing to remember multiple passwords and go everywhere else?

And how do you begin to literally use things like AI and ML to guide them through their day, presenting them with the right information at the right time, not all the information, allowing them to execute tasks without needing to navigate multiple different environments? Then, how do you create a collaborative workspace that is equitable and provides transparency and a common place for folks to align around common goals, execute against projects, understand the status, no matter whether they are working in an office in a conference room together or are distributed to all corners of the globe?

Gardner: For those older leaders or younger entrants into the workspace who want to learn more about this research, how can they? And what comes next for Citrix research?

Design the future of work

Minahan: Anyone can find this research available on This research effort, as well as future research efforts, are part of an initiative we took together with academia, research organizations, and governments starting well over a year ago called the Work 2035 Project to try to understand the skills, organizational structures, and role technology plays in shaping the future of work. The only difference is the future of work is arriving a heck of a lot faster than any of us ever expected.

The next big event is that we are hosting a thought leadership event that will be based in part on the latest research effort in October, a virtual summit we are calling Fieldwork, where we are going to bring together some of the industry thought leaders around the topic of how the future of work is evolving and have an open dialogue, and we will be providing more information on that as we get closer. 

Gardner: Amy, for those organizations that may have learned more about the employee experience function of governance, leadership, and management, what advice do you have for organizations should they be interested in setting up an employee experience organization?

Haworth: First, I say congratulations to those organizations for investing and taking the time to invest in understanding what employee experience means in the context of their particular desire for business outcomes and in their particular culture.

Citrix published this year some very helpful research around the employee experience operating model. It can be found on in the Fieldwork section. I personally have leveraged this in setting up some of the key pillars of our own philosophy and approach to employee experience. It is deep and it will also be a great springboard for moving forward with establishing both a mindset and some practices and programs leading to exceptional stronger employee experiences. 

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on a disconnect between how today’s younger generation thinks and those in leadership positions in businesses.

And we have learned how the paybacks and advantages of understanding and embracing the Born Digital Effect can be a large and differentiating benefit to those organizations savvy enough to gain the self-awareness to embrace the clearly different perceptions of those Born Digital.

So a big thank you to our guests, Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix. Thanks so much, Tim.

Minahan: Thanks, Dana. I enjoyed the conversation.

Gardner: And we have been here with Amy Haworth, Senior Director of Employee Experience at Citrix. Thank you so much, Amy.

Haworth: Thank you.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect future of work innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Citrix-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions.

Thanks again for listening, please pass this along to your business associates, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on new research into what makes the “Born Digital” generation tick and the paybacks and advantages of understanding and embracing this new breed of employees. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2021. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in: