The Forces Shaping the Future of Work
- Effects from the pandemic have offered many people “COVID clarity,” prompting them to reevaluate their circumstances and aspire to more in their working lives, whether it is improved circumstances in a current role or a complete career shift.
- Employees are asking for more flexible work options and benefits that reflect actual needs—from paid time off to training for people managers to pet insurance. The challenge to businesses still reeling from the Great Resignation is managing expectations from the time students are in school, which is where business schools play a critical role.
- Communication is a central theme in what employers are looking for and remains a top priority for business schools.
Tony Lee: [0:14] You know the Great Resignation is really for a lot of different reasons, but I think the most important one is, frankly, COVID clarity among the working person. Everybody's thinking about, "Is this really the right job for me? Is this the right career path? Is this the right company? Is this the right boss? Is this the right commute?" [laughs]
[0:33] It's an opportunity to rethink everything. When people do that, they can decide, maybe it's time for a change, maybe this isn't everything I thought it would be. Not only that, even the people who are happy are thinking, "Bill just got a new job. Sally just got a new job. Maybe I should just see what's out there and find out."
[0:54] Talent shortages are real, and demand is so high that folks are finding opportunities they never thought they would. Employers are responding to the Great Resignation a lot of different ways. We've identified basically five things that employers are doing.
[1:09] The first thing is more flexible scheduling and the ability to work remotely. That just became so clear during the pandemic, and employers are demanding it.
[1:18] Number two are customized benefits. Everybody wants their healthcare covered. Some people also want full student loan repayment, or they want fertility benefits, or they want caregiver benefits, or pet insurance. Whatever it is that people want, employers are figuring that out and giving it to them.
[1:36] Number three is more flexible paid time off. Different from flexible scheduling, this is complete time off and paid. Companies are looking at that carefully.
[1:47] I would say number four is training, especially of people managers, and especially newer people managers, who aren't confident in their skills as a people manager, employers are figuring out how to train those folks to make them as good as they possibly be.
[2:00] Five is competitive pay. Everyone thinks pay is number one, but it's really not for a lot of folks. Now, the pay has to be competitive. Frankly, we've seen employers do things like dramatically increase their matching to 401(k) programs and things like that. That can really make a difference too.
[2:18] The challenge to business schools with the Great Resignation, from an employer perspective, is to help new graduates come up with frankly realistic expectations. Graduates of a top 20 program, they can write their own ticket, but the vast majority of b-school grads are not coming from that kind of program.
The challenge to business schools with the Great Resignation, from an employer perspective, is to help new graduates come up with frankly realistic expectations.
[2:35] Yet their expectations are that they should be paid the same way or that they should get the same opportunity. It's really incumbent on business schools to be realistic in their training to let students know that, yeah, it's definitely your market and your time.
[2:49] Think about, "What does the employer need, what does the employer want," if you really want a long‑term career and not just something that's going to last a couple of years.
[2:57] Employers feel like the skills that they are seeking all circle around communication. It's about the ability to make yourself understood clearly, whether you're writing or whether you're speaking, no matter how you're communicating.
[3:10] Transparency is the watchword. If there's someone who's great at what they do, but a true introvert, they really cannot communicate well, then they need training. That's where business schools can help.
B-schools, in particular, should think very carefully about the types of students they are admitting and look at folks who really need the opportunity to excel and haven't had it.
[3:22] They can identify those folks who may be brilliant, but if they can't communicate their ideas with others, it's not going to help their employers very much. Business education, and b-schools, in particular, should think very carefully about the types of students they are admitting and look at folks who really need the opportunity to excel and haven't had it.
[3:43] We call it untapped talent. You're seeing a lot of employers looking at untapped talent for the first time. Those are folks who, for whatever reason, have not made it in the labor force to date, and are now going back to graduate school to try and get those skills.
[3:57] Maybe they're not able to get into the programs they really want because let's say, they have a criminal history, or perhaps they were a veteran and never got the education that they needed to undergrad, or they have a disability.
[4:09] Whatever it might be, business schools need to think more broadly about who their next wave of students are and help them break through.