Top Ten Work Trends Quarterly Updates

A diverse group of SIOP members are serving as Trend Champions for the people-related work trends that SIOP members collaboratively predicted to be the most impactful in 2021. Each Trend Champion has expertise in and professional passion for their trend subject. SIOP appreciates their service to the profession in providing quarterly updates on their chosen topics.

Find the full list of topics and links to the other Top 10 Work Trends here

The Latest on Trend #9: Building Cultures of Agility and Adaptability

2021 3rd Quarter Update

Much of the focus for I/O practitioners and organizational decision makers during the past quarter continued to be on COVID-19’s impact. Two major issues emerged: (a) How should companies handle vaccination policies; and (b) How should we deal with what’s being termed the “Great Resignation” (i.e., the growing number of Americans who are quitting their jobs)? For example, Korn Ferry published a news story called, “How Will Firms Implement the New Vaccine Mandate?” It reviewed a host of medical, legal, and privacy issues organizations need to consider. Posts by HBR, Fortune, Forbes, Inc., and many other media outlets described what is causing so many employees to leave their jobs and what businesses can do to retain them. The need for organizational leaders to foster a culture of agility and adaptability – as well as trust, transparency, and teamwork – was highlighted over and over again during the past several months.

Besides the ongoing COVID-19 related concerns, the other key agility-related news this quarter comes from the selection realm. As more and more organizations administer self-assessments to make selection and other talent management decisions, concerns around applicant faking are growing. How can organizations and practitioners be confident that the scores on such self-reports are accurate? Are there evolving psychometric techniques to enhance the likelihood that results best reflect whatever applicant variables are being assessed? Recently, several articles have been published in the academic literature to investigate the veracity of the self-assessment methodology. There are a bevy of new research articles out on these topics, but I found these four particularly compelling:

Huber, C. R., Kuncel, N. R., Huber, K. B., & Boyce, A. S. (2021). Faking and the validity of personality tests: An experimental investigation using modern forced choice measures. Personnel Assessment and Decisions, 7, 20-30. 

Jelley, R. B. (2021). Using personality feedback for work-related development and performance improvement: A rapid evidence assessment. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 53, 175-186. 

Lee, J., & Song, J. H. (2021). Developing a measurement of employee learning agility. European Journal of Training and Development, 45.

2021 2nd Quarter Update

This year continues to be a challenging one for businesses, governments, families, and all of society. It seems like we take two steps forward, the coronavirus or a new variant emerges, and then we take a step backwards. One of the key lessons from this new world normal is that nothing feels normal. Kurt Lewin’s age-old theory of the three stages of change – unfreezing, changing, and refreezing – is outdated. We now live in a state of constant icy slush! The ability to bend and flex, be open to uncertainty, respond quickly, and be willing to reframe problems into opportunities are critical attributes for businesses and employees alike.

It appeared like nearly every story in business magazines and newspapers focused on the coronavirus and how it’s impacting us. Fortune, Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal all published articles on why employees don’t want to go back to the office, the difficulty companies are experiencing hiring employees, employee engagement, employee turnover, and mental health. The APA has made a concerted effort to raise awareness of mental health issues and reminding companies that treating employees decreases absenteeism, increases productivity, and lowers overall healthcare costs.

Likewise, many consulting firms have published pieces on this new normal. For example, McKinsey and Company published a story concerning culture in a hybrid workplace. It warned employees should not assume they will return to the same culture that existed prepandemic.

Forbes points out, being agile was in the zeitgeist even before the pandemic – and that the Covid-19 outbreak only added urgency to organizational transformation efforts to prioritize adaptability, speed, and efficiency.

2021 1st Quarter Update

Like the commercial goes for promoting the Masters Golf Tournament every year. It’s “a tradition unlike any other.” Well, 2020 indeed was a year like no other! To think that only a year ago none of us had heard of the coronavirus (except for a few people in the medical community), whereas nowadays, nearly every news story, magazine article, and blog posting features the coronavirus. We truly live in a VUCA World (i.e., one filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). But, ironically, the concept of VUCA originated more than 30 years ago at the U.S. Army War College. Since that time, it has been used to characterize the current environment and the leadership required to successfully navigate during these times.

Several consulting firms have focused on how organizations must adapt and become more agile to succeed in this post-pandemic world during Q1. For example, Lee Hecht Harrison emphasized that we should rethink how we deploy learning within organizations. We need to shift not only to meet future skill requirements, but to start mining the maximum value possible from human capital, “the real engine of growth and success.” Likewise, McKinsey and Company examined how the pandemic has accelerated remote work and virtual interactions, e-commerce and digital transactions, and the deployment of automation and AI. 

SIOP members Veronica Schmidt Harvey and Kenneth De Meuse’s recent book highlights the importance of creating an organizational culture of agility and developing managers who are learning agile.  The Age of Agility: Building Learning Agile Leaders and Organizations explores the science and practice of learning agility. More than 50 academic scholars and talent practitioners from around the globe contribute their views. The authors integrate theory, research, and practice to investigate the present thinking of learning agility and how to embed it into one’s workforce and business.

Champion: Kenneth P. De Meuse, PhD

Kenneth P. DeMeuse, PhD

Ken De Meuse is a global thought leader on the assessment and development of leadership and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and authored seven books. His most recent book, The Age of Agility: Building Learning Agile Leaders and Organizations was published by Oxford University Press in February. After being on the faculty at two universities (Iowa State, Wisconsin) and working in large business organizations (Korn Ferry, Intergraph, Union Carbide), he established the De Meuse Leadership Group in 2014. The firm specializes in leader identification, executive coaching, and research on high potential talent and consists of a global network