Where do I eat my lunch? The Challenges of being an Employee in 2019 and beyond

By Shannon Donovan, ShareThePoint

While buzzwords we’re hearing these days, like ‘citizen developer’, might sound slightly Orwellian… they’re really nothing more than an indication that the face of employee-dom is changing.

Today’s workplace is heading towards a less top-down culture, but while working atmospheres seem to be less formal these days, employers are increasingly looking for a high level of engagement and ownership from staff.

Improvements in technology (including a huge drive towards cloud-computing and increasing internet speed and stability) mean work can be done ‘anywhere, anytime’. There’s a great deal of benefit from flexible working arrangements, but it requires a culture of trust. And productivity is still top of mind for employers – in the past two years, 28 percent of NZ businesses introduced automation to their business processes.

So, what does all this mean for employees?

Employees’ key skills and attributes need to keep up with employers’ expectations:

  • Adaptability and openness to change – really change is the only constant these days!
  • Embracing a digital first mindset – including making best use of tools and skills, even if they start off outside your comfort zone
  • Being a ‘citizen developer’ by seizing opportunities to improve products and processes – solving problems doesn’t necessarily have to involve a complex technical solution
  • Deserve to be trusted – personify integrity, commitment, and contribution

The challenges do not all sit with employees, though.

Employers need to actively develop a desirable workplace culture to attract the best people – this might not be new, but the ways to do this are changing in line with employee behaviour:

  • Invest in employee development – don’t skimp on onboarding or ongoing training
  • Be a digital first business – if you expect engagement you have to provide the culture, physical spaces the right technology (for example, mobile workforce’s need mobile hardware – and they need to be able to access all relevant resources from wherever they are so reassess outdated security models like VPN)
  • Lead by example – engagement must penetrate every level of the organisation: especially the leadership team! They must also display the key skills and attributes of employees – and being technically challenged cannot be accepted as an excuse
  • Develop a trust-based work environment with a culture of respect and honesty; openly giving and receiving constructive feedback; using humour and having fun; and encouraging collaborative decision-making
  • Acknowledge and recognise contributions – everyone wants to know they matter
  • Encourage and support user-driven improvement – employees are the most productive assets in your business. Surround them with the culture that empowers them to innovate

Whether you sit in the employee or employer chair (or a bit of both), to find out how to meet these challenges, these are the must-see sessions at DWCNZ 2019:


Shannon Donovan is a Solutions Specialist at ShareThePoint, producers of the Digital Workplace Conference.