Josh Bersin on work, not jobs: how to fit work to your people | Forward Thinkers

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Humans are not factory objects, says Josh Bersin, global thought leader and author of Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World's Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations. Unless you recognise this and move quickly to adapt your organisation you get left behind, he tells The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington

When you peer beneath the covers of every company that falls out of favour with the stock market or fails completely you often find the same things: lack of mobility, lack of agility, lack of adaptability and lack of learning, says Josh Bersin, CEO of the Josh Bersin Company and author of of Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World's Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations.

But before you start ripping up your organisational model this is not the answer, he says, Instead it is for individuals to work in a new way.

“I make the point a lot that people are the only appreciating asset in a company. Everything else depreciates except people. And so if you have this attitude that we can always pay people a little bit less, we can always get rid of people that we don't like, we can have turnover, we can outsource this, we can outsource that – you're going to always have these problems of not getting people engaged,” he says.

“Most employees are not doing only one thing. They have a job and they're doing some other things and they're working on a project and they're helping somebody else do their job. And they're lending their skills to another person because they might be more skilled in one area than another.

“And so a lot of those artifacts of how we select people, how we decide who to promote and how we put together job descriptions are being thrown away and being replaced by more intelligent, skills-based technologies. Managers who are managing in a more agile way, cross-functional teams, talent marketplaces, all sorts of things to create organisational performance that's not dependent on this kind of marching line, factory model of humans. Humans are not factory objects.”

In this video Josh discusses why organisations need to become more irresistible, the role diversity, equity and inclusion play in adaptive organisations and the three steps leaders need to take  to start on thinking about work, not jobs.

About Josh Bersin

Josh is an analyst and thought leader specialising in the global talent market and the challenges and trends affecting business workforces around the world. He founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide associated research and advisory services – a business he later sold to Deloitte when it became known as Bersin by Deloitte.

In 2019 he launched The Josh Bersin Academy, the world's first global development academy for HR and talent professionals, and he is currently the CEO of its sister research and advisory firm The Josh Bersin Company. He is author of Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World's Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations

Want a downloadable transcript of this interview? Then sign up to The People Space fortnightly newsletter. It’s free and also covers content not available on the website. Find out more here. And look out for the next episode of our Work’s Not Working… Let’s Fix It! podcast in which Josh discusses why we need to ditch job descriptions and match people to roles in a more sophisticated way, plus he discusses how organisations are doing this and the role technology plays in helping companies here. For more click here  

Published 15 March 2023
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