Secret to future business success? Think about two things at once while juggling four devices

Organizations are set to compete to recruit four-device carrying, high-productivity Super-taskers that will be the leaders in the decade ahead, according to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report.

Cisco Systems Inc. surveyed 3,700 professionals (including those Gen X, Gen Y demographics) in 15 countries and discovered some important insights into “what workers really want.”

By referencing survey information, organizations can help to ensure that they can effectively attract and retain key talent, that they are maximizing productivity opportunities, and planning their technology strategies accordingly to realize competitive advantages.

The survey outlines fundamental ways in which technology is shaping the future of work and how the devices, apps and solutions preferred by these generations are enabling new ways of working – including the rise of the “Super-tasker,” an individual who is adept at using four devices and can successfully perform at least two cognitive tasks simultaneously.

It is the Super-tasker that will be the “in demand” employee of the future (if not now!) due to their ability to produce optimal results. According to the HR professionals surveyed, the Super-taskers are deemed to be the future leaders of organizations because they increase the expectations of a “high performer” at their organization. This is why HR professionals feel Super-taskers are best suited for a managerial role, as an individual contributor, or an executive role.

It should not be a surprise that nearly two-thirds of professionals believe that in the year 2020, Super-taskers will be the group most coveted by their organizations. The good news is that the majority of survey responders indicate learning to become a Supertasker is possible by managing their personal lives, with the majority typically mixing work and personal activities, which is reflective of a flexible work schedule.

In conversation with Lance Perry, vice-president of IT customer strategy and success for Cisco, he advises that in order for organizations to successfully align with survey findings “IT and HR need to be joined at the hip and work in partnership in this changing and evolving workforce dynamic. Organizations shouldn’t use the terminology of ‘work-life’ balance, but rather it should be ‘work-home’ which creates an integrated life and reflects the ability to go in and out of work seamlessly, regardless of location.”

It is apparent that just as IT needs to provide the technology resources and tools that employees need and want to have in order to work more effectively and efficiently, that similarly HR needs to provide the organizational framework and culture to support the multigenerational workforce infused by technology.

In that regard, Perry emphasizes that increasingly, employees want “meaningful work – the opportunity to work with an organization that is doing something to make the world better.”

As an HR consultant, I consider this a critical statement. Here is an opportunity for HR to develop and help define a values-driven culture. This needs to be branded as something tangible that employees can champion and embrace. It’s the intrinsic motivational quotient that many organizations overlook, discount, or take for granted.

It would be presumptive for an organization to believe that their employees have “bought into” their current work environment. Sometimes, an organization can mistakenly think that by providing “competitive pay and benefits” that they have harnessed employee loyalty and commitment. However, it is those “things that money cannot buy” that can truly positively drive employee motivation and productivity.

Based on information provided by the Cisco survey, I suggest that change can begin by acknowledging and respecting that generational workers do have different work preferences, and allowing for this without judgment or repercussions in how work is structured and how employees are managed.

The responsibility is on the employer to provide flexible work arrangements, and to begin to consider that productivity is not a measure of the “hours in the office” but rather the results that are delivered regardless of time and location.

Further, a definite must for employees is having an employer who provides the technology tools to allow employees work flexibility, and to demonstrate their efficiencies and competencies to be recognized as Super-taskers and future leaders.

There is also the vital aspect of engaging employees and valuing their opinions on an ongoing basis to help ensure that there is no unwelcome static caused by lack of communication around wants, likes, and expectations.

Providing employees with meaningful work that serves a higher purpose is important to attraction and retention is key. Towards this end, Cisco has developed a new “People Manifesto” that will be the focus of an upcoming blog, and as stated by Perry, Cisco’s core values of “giving back, trustworthy, frugality, integrity” are all tied to their ultimate goal, “to drive success for the customer.”

Cisco employees can be fully engaged knowing that their technical expertise is helping their customers succeed. The goal statement derives a sense of connectivity of Cisco employees at all levels to customers around the world.

This is a great time to be helming an organization and a great time to be working in an organization. There are so many technology resources and tools to harness, and as outlined in the survey, a workforce that is clamoring to engage with innovative methods and approaches.

It is time for organizations to embrace all the opportunities that technology affords. And from the HR camp, it is also time for that “joining at the hip” for IT and HR that Perry touts to be the norm to help maximize success.




Marylka Empey
Marylka Empey
Marylka Empey is management consultant with more than 20 years successful experience in working closely with organizations to address the “A to Z” of HR related opportunities and challenges. Ms. Empey has significant involvement with the HR Association of Ontario, having served on the Provincial Board, on the Chapter Board as President, and on the Provincial Professional Standards Committee where she contributed to establishing the professional benchmarks for the Certified Human Resources Designation (CHRP). A trusted advisor to management, Marylka collaborates to build effective relationships across the client organization, and acts ethically and with integrity. As a corporate executive, Marylka has experience in both the profit and not-for-profit sector, and was a member of the Executive team reporting to the President / CEO, with full responsibility for setting and executing the HR strategic direction in support of corporate business objectives.

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