OUR FUTURE OF HR EXPERT
Enrique Rubio is an expert in the future of HR. He came to the United States from Venezuela as a Fulbright Scholar and has an Executive Master’s from The Maxwell School.
In 2017, he realized the gap between technology and human resources was widening. With a background in electrical engineering, he decided to hold conversations for technology and its workforce at Hacking HR. These events started in person at co-working spaces, but quickly moved online. Due to COVID, Enrique’s events now register upwards of 40,000 people. Because they’re free, there’s no barrier for entry.
Listen to the following clips for Enrique’s future of HR.
COVID REVEALED THE FUTURE OF HR
“Why did we have to wait for COVID to show us that we need to talk about this? We should have been addressing all these topics before.” – Enrique Rubio
Workplace experience conversations are nothing new.
Enrique notes that conversations about mental health at work began before COVID, but not in a meaningful way. Conversations about hybrid schedules were being had in the 2010s, but it wasn’t until COVID hit that these topics came to the forefront.
People are now looking for meaning, purpose, and impact through their work. In other words, they don’t want jobs to be a transaction. They want their work to make the world a better place. If not, devotion is a tall order. All of these conversations existed before the pandemic. COVID has simply amplified them.
STOP SAYING “RETURN TO WORK”
“What do you think we were doing in the past couple of years, [drinking] on the beach in Cancun? We have been working our butts off over the past couple of years.” – Enrique Rubio
Enrique wants two expressions to go away.
The first is ‘return to normal.’ Normal was changing before COVID, and that word is now out the window for good. Why return to something that isn’t working? Leaders claim to want change, however they won’t upgrade their leadership style to manage hybrid schedules.
The second is ‘return to work’. People are significantly overworked, not just from their jobs, but their home life, which are now intertwined. Whether it be dealing with COVID, or having children learning online at home, people are working harder than ever. Thus, Enrique says to call it ‘return to the office’.
Enrique acknowledges society is undergoing major unrest. He hopes that on the other side, light shines upon everybody, not just the few. These new principles will shape the future of work.
DESIGNING THE PHYSICAL SPACE DEFINES FOR THE FUTURE
“One question I’m challenging [people] to think about is: why would people come to your physical space? If you had that office, why would they go there instead of staying at home?” – Enrique Rubio
What experience are you offering them in the building that is different from their homes? At home, they sit in slippers and shorts. They don’t commute. To get them to the office, you have to provide them with something that is significantly more valuable.
This requires a complete rethinking of the physical space. That conversation has two layers, employee experience, and human experience. Enrique illustrates the two are very connected to the workplace experience. More and more, questions of office space and corporate real estate are reporting to HR.
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT EMPLOYEES
“If you assume that people want to come back to the office, that’s a mistake. [It’s also] a mistake to assume that people want to work from home” – Enrique Rubio
Some people want to return to the office, some want to work from home. Some want a mix of both. People want flexibility.
For example, expats who work in different countries, they draw their social interactions from colleagues at work. And if they’re home alone, they’re bored. They want to see people. For some, working at home can be detrimental to their mental health.
Enrique urges to never assume. Ask questions, talk to people.
RETHINK THE HR EXPERIENCE FOR EMPLOYEE OPTIMIZATION
“Jobs and work are different things, people find an outlet to their creativity, their purpose, their passion, their engagement, their energy, through work.” – Enrique Rubio
If your employees have a negative work experience, you may presume they don’t like to work, however what they don’t really like is their jobs. People like to work. The challenge is for people to like where they work.
Recent studies find the people that have the poorest relationship with their managers are the people that are either asking to be transferred to other units, or they’re leaving those jobs.
Therefore, Enrique wants companies to redesign the work experience as an outlet for creativity and a provider of purpose. It’s a big change. It is simply a shift in focus. And if that is done, the future will be much more valuable.
CONCLUSION FOR THE FUTURE OF HR
Enrique says the workplace is like an onion. The inner layer is employee experience, which improves the lives of employees and allows opportunity for growth. Another layer is the workplace experience, which is the specific experience they get from the physical workplace. Above all, to think differently about workplace experience means thinking differently about what it means to be together in a physical space.
Enrique doesn’t want people to come to the office and do the same thing they could do from home. If they can avoid a two-hour commute, it’s better for the employee, it’s better for the environment, and with a shift in focus, it’s better for the company.
Therefore, if your company provides opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and social interactions at work, then you’re providing something employees can’t get anywhere else.