In this video, John Gerzema talks about the post crisis consumer at TEDxKC. Basically, he’s talking about finding an upside to the financial crisis and showing how it has changed the way people spend money, save money, and demand more from companies. A culture of transparency has emerged to gain back some of the trust lost. He cites Gortex as an example where management posts expense reports for everyone in the company to see. But what else has changed in the workplace post crisis? And how does this touchy-feely notion of cooperation jibe with the harsh realities of layoffs, slashed benefits, and overall anxiety in the workplace?
To be clear, trends in consumer behavior and lifestyle changes do have softer edges than the workplace, but the crisis has changed the way people interact at work and how businesses do business. Here are some ways that you might be able to be more effective and help your workplace adjust post-crisis:
If you think about the value that we’ve put on secrecy in the past, it’s very hard to move away from it or even see the value. But often employees are asked to do more with less people and the result can be a stressful, unproductive workplace. It’s both a manager and employee issue, but there may be a simple solution. Everyone laying out their workloads and being honest about what they see as fair and unfair. Yes, there is the opportunity for arguments to erupt, but there is also an opportunity for a large pool of people to put their heads together to get a job done.
This links back to transparency, but can be extended further. Cooperation in the workplace may be between departments or even partner companies. The idea is that working together makes us stronger than working separately. Think about departments as diverse as accounting and marketing. Is there a way to make them work together in a more efficient way. Traditionally we’ve looked at bringing in a system that will make something easier for one set of people but more difficult for others (think of software that require retraining and a complete rework of how someone has done their job for 25 years.) Why not sit everyone down and start to cooperate on issues to see if there’s a solution that’s low cost, easy to implement, and that will help everyone?
3.) Long Term Thinking
Is it possible that people are thinking of their jobs as more long term than before the crisis? No one can tell what the long term trend is going to be, but there were a huge number of people dreaming of the value of their property in Florida or checking in on their stocks in the past. It turns out that the consumer savings rate has climbed significantly post crisis. This would indicate that things like a steady pay-check and a 401K plan not to mention health benefits means significantly more than it did in the past. Jobs have become more valuable. Not just because the unemployment rate is near 10%. But because the benefits of long term employment align more with people’s values today.
The phrase ‘balance of work and life’ indicates that they are polar opposites that one needs to carefully adjust to ensure that they don’t both come tumbling down. It seems that the two complement each other. Today, there’s a chance for work and life to align more closely; for values that we bring to our homes and neighborhoods to enter the office. Getting to know our co-workers as neighbors and sometimes neighbors in need isn’t just a feel good notion, it’s good business
John Gerzema says there’s an upside to the recent financial crisis — the opportunity for positive change. Speaking at TEDxKC, he identifies four major cultural shifts driving new consumer behavior and shows how businesses are evolving to connect with thoughtful spending.