What Is New Work and How Does Sitel Group® Use It to Empower Associates?
The world of work is changing, and so are people's aspirations. How can organizations adapt and make sure to attract and retain talent?
The world of work has undergone major changes over the last couple of years. In times of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, employees have changed the way they consider work, and are no longer willing to go out of their way for a job that doesn’t motivate them. It’s getting harder for organizations to attract and retain talent in the customer experience industry as much as everywhere else.
That’s why “new work” has become the buzzword of the moment. The concept isn’t new, but it integrates elements that continue to make sense in today’s work context, mainly the ideas of fulfillment and empowerment.
In today’s blog post, we are going to have a look at the theory, its evolution and how Sitel Group® puts it into action with its program Sitel® MAX.
A Concept Born in the 1970s
The concept of New Work was developed in the late 1970s by social philosopher Frithjof Bergmann, promoting self-fulfillment as opposed to what he called wage labor. The idea is that work as such is endless and there’s more to it than what can be provided by the wage labor system. According to Bergmann, every human being can find work that’s aligned with their own values, desires, dreams, hopes and skills — their “calling.”
The theory was developed during a period of growing unemployment due to automation in different industries. Bergmann questioned capitalism (and socialism) and was searching for a new definition of work that includes not only gainful employment but also tech sufficiency and work that procures fulfillment. The central idea is to create space for creativity and personal development.
It’s interesting to note that Bergmann integrated digitization and tech self-sufficiency into his concept, foreseeing that technology might become a means to ease the workload and a way to help improve the employee experience by giving them time to do what they “really, really” want.
More than Free Snacks
Major organizations have taken up some of Bergmann’s ideas. Companies such as Google thrived, and so did their employees. Motivation and productivity peaked as they were able to do things during office hours that weren’t strictly work-related.
Of course, this interpretation of New Work doesn’t go as far as the original theory — and not only because it doesn’t question capitalism. But even Bergmann supported what he called “wage labor in a mini skirt,” as it was a small step towards his goal of giving workers a sense of fulfillment.
More recently, new work has become even more of a buzzword as companies are finding it more difficult to attract and retain talent. There’s still no question of abolishing wage labor, but organizations are continuing to integrate elements of self-fulfillment into the workplace. They know that free snacks, yoga classes or a ping-pong table in the office aren’t enough anymore. Employees are looking for real incentives and benefits, such as healthcare, flexible work models, training and development, and participation programs.
But most of all, organizations know they need to take into account that existing and future associates are looking for jobs that make sense and offer them fulfillment. Collaborators want to be sure that their work really matters, and that they are getting what scholars call “psychological empowerment”: meaningfulness, self-determination, skill and influence. Employers who can deliver on these expectations are getting a real head start when it comes to recruiting new talent, and keeping them. Moreover, thanks to a positive employee experience, productivity and, in the customer service industry, the customer experience are likely to improve.
Sitel® MAX: Empowering Our Associates
Sitel Group is continuously working to improve the employee experience, and not only because we know that a good employee experience is necessary to offer an optimal customer experience. We really want to empower our associates and have developed a complete employee engagement program to achieve this: Sitel® MAX.
In its three years of existence, there have been great achievements in different fields of associate engagement:
- Skills: Sitel® MAX includes a performance management tool for skills development and process optimization as well as a vast array of training programs, helping associates to develop skills and competencies. This goes hand in hand with internal mobility, making it possible for associates to grow and make their aspirations become a reality. Another way to improve skills is sharing best practices, made easy within the MAX community and supported by our intranet, MAXConnect.
- Influence: Associates have their say in the company. Teams worldwide work together to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects. Their ideas have a real impact on business decisions and can have a concrete influence on corporate strategy. Our Idea Collector also is a great way for associates to impact the organization. Over the first year of its existence alone, over 1,000 ideas were collected and followed up on to make concrete changes and improve the associate experience. Last but not least, our value proposition “Create Connection. Value Conversation” is based on suggestions and ideas by our associates.
- Meaningfulness: At Sitel Group, social and ecological responsibilities have always been important, and Sitel MAX organizes numerous actions that add sense and fulfillment to the work environment, such as book drives and the recent Idea Burst initiative to collect associates’ ideas to make Sitel Group a more sustainable place to be.
And there’s proof that Sitel Group’s associate engagement program really works: the eNPS has been growing steadily over the last years. Also, Sitel Group regularly wins awards, such as a Gold Stevie® Award for Great Employees.
Empowerment of associates isn’t a new idea, although it has evolved and gained even more importance in the post-pandemic context. Associates are in a position to ask for their expectations and aspirations to be taken into account. Giving them a sense of fulfillment and engaging them in the corporation is what makes a great associate experience — and a prerequisite for the CX your customers expect.
Find out more about new ways of working in our whitepaper “The Future of Work & Employee Experience: How Work from Anywhere Redefines CX Delivery.”