Having come from Austria to the USA on a scholarship in 1949, Bergmann was a Chairman of philosophy department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the late 1950s. Various trips took him to some of the former Eastern Bloc countries at the end of the 1970s. The insight he gained from this: Socialism has no future. Bergmann designed a counter-model, a reformed capitalist system from which a movement would emerge: New Work. In 1984, he founded the first ‘Center for New Work’ in Flint/Michigan, a classic automobile city where the weaknesses of the industrial age could be studied particularly well. At the heart of his ‘New Work’ theory are values such as independence, freedom and participation. People should orientate themselves on what they "really, really want" and thus become more independent.
"The Corona crisis in particular has proven that New Work is no longer a buzzword and that values, such as independence and flexibility can lead to more effective work. The employees do not orientate themselves on a 9 to 5 mode here. They work independently and partly self-determined, among other things in what they want to do and when. In addition, the employees are usually much more innovative, because no one can be innovative at the push of a button", says Martin Krill, managing partner of Hager Unternehmensberatung, a consultancy specializing in executive search.
PERMA is a so-called acronym and stands for Positive Emotions, Commitment, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. These five aspects for a fulfilled life can also be applied in the world of work and provide tips on how a corporate culture should be designed to equip employees with an optimal environment for more creativity and higher productivity.
"If I support my employees in the theses mentioned in PERMA, they are more satisfied and ultimately more effective. For Seligman, it is central that well-being at work is more than the absence of negative emotions. ‘No pressure’, ‘No insecurity’, etc. do not automatically lead to a positive work culture. Positive emotions, such as the experience of meaning and letting one's own strengths work are what’s important for the well-being at work. When I make greater use of my employees' personal strengths and let them develop, they often blossom in what they do. Ultimately, they are also more motivated and open-minded to engage innovatively with new topics", says Dr. Monika Becker, who holds a doctorate in psychology and is Business Unit Director for the Software division at Hager Unternehmensberatung.
The American economist Peter F. Drucker used the term as early as in 1959, and its essence is that the knowledge worker, as opposed to the unskilled worker who depends on having their work organized top-down, acts on an equal level with management. The knowledge worker is an expert in his or her field who contributes their knowledge and thus creates added value for the company. The principle of hierarchy of the industrial age is replaced in the knowledge age by the network principle.
"While we are happily heading into the digital age with our business models, our working models often still remain in the age of early industrialization. Hierarchical structures, presence culture and silo-thinking wherever you look. For many (mostly male) managers, the position alone is still a status symbol rather than a servant task. Today, such leaders are at best still suitable as superiors, who should no longer use the word ‘leadership’ in their titles. Free thinking needs free space. And this arises beyond rigid structures. Inflexible full-time positions with non-discussable, predefined areas of responsibility are working environments of the past. Today they are just deserts, in which no digitalized developments can flourish”, explains Thomas Wetzel, Head of Training & Coaching at Hager Unternehmensberatung.
Meanwhile, it has become generally accepted (89%) that the success of a company depends to a large extent on its employees. Finding and keeping them (!) is increasingly becoming a major challenge for companies.
"This is exactly our, often quoted, “needle in a haystack” that we are looking for, for our clients. Bringing the right talent that is also capable of driving forward the success of the company. But even these talents have to be motivated to stay. For successful employee retention, modern working conditions are a 'must have'. Company cars and high salaries only motivate in the short term, but they do not bind employees to the company in the long term", says Ralf Hager, founder and managing director of Hager Unternehmensberatung.
Väth advocates the abolition of the term ‘work-life balance’ in favor of ‘work-life blending’.
"This should make it clear that it is less about a border between work and private life, but more about a successful combination of the two, which does not show any negative effects of breaking down boundaries. According to Markus Väth, meaningful work means that the it promotes the person’s strengths, that it is located in an environment into which the working employee fits, and that this work has a higher significance. The goal of work is therefore personal development on an individual level, adaptation to a complex (working) world on an organizational level and moderate capitalism on a social level.” (quoted from: „New Work. Best Practices und Zukunftsmodelle“ by Dr. Josephine Hofmann, Alexander Piele, Christian Piele published by FRAUNHOFER-INSTITUT FÜR ARBEITSWIRTSCHAFT UND ORGANISATION IAO)
"Again, the Corona crisis has confirmed the theory. Especially for those employees who saw the crisis as an opportunity and tried to bring their employer forward with their work, a life balance limit was not necessary. They were intrinsically motivated to let the boundary between work and private life merge and thus developed personally and individually", says Martin Krill.
That the IT & Internet industry ranks at the top is no big surprise. The rest of the ranking, however, is quite remarkable.
(average on a four-level scale from 1=hierarchical to 4=flat)
IT & Internet > 2,45
Mechanical and plant engineering > 2.14
Trade > 2.11
Automotive and suppliers > 2.01
Pharmaceuticals > 2
Chemical and refiners industry > 1,92
Banks > 1,82
The term ‘Objectives and Key Results’ (OKR) is a management tool that is mainly used in agile companies. The basic idea is that measurable key results are assigned to each objective. At regular intervals – usually after three months – the success is measured. The OKR method was invented by Intel co-founder Andy Grove in the 1970s and was first used by Google in 1999.
"Numerous innovative companies from the technology sector, such as Google or LinkedIn have successfully used this management tool. And many future managers concentrate on clarity, transparency and feedback, because for them the output is increasingly the main focus. This management tool supports the clear communication of goals, progress and results, and reveals required assistance and learned lessons", says Ralf Hager.
Holacracy (from holos – "complete, whole" and kratía – "dominion") is a systemic approach developed by Brian Robertson on the basis of sociocracy, which the American developed in his company Ternary Software Corporation. In essence, the aim is to organize decision-making through all levels as transparently as possible and with participatory opportunities, in order to increase the motivation and creativity of employees.
"Holacracy seems to be the perfect answer to a permanently fast-moving and more complex working world. The flat hierarchies that go hand in hand with it enable companies to react flexibly to changes and, at the same time, increase the innovative power of the organization. In addition, decisions can be made faster, often with more professional expertise and senior management is not blocked by a flood of decision papers. In this model, employees work more independently, enjoy personal freedom and a high degree of personal responsibility. This makes them more satisfied, motivated, healthier and more productive in the long term. It includes many aspects that are often demanded of the talents themselves, especially in the 'War for Talents'”, summarizes Dr. Monika Becker.
Working Out Loud (WOL) is a form of cooperation and a self-learning method that’s based on it. The central idea is no longer hoarding the knowledge (domination knowledge), but willingly sharing it. The original idea comes from Bryce Williams. John Stepper further developed the method. His book of the same name ‘Working out Loud’ from 2015 is still considered the standard work on the subject. According to Stopper, WOL is essentially based on the following 5 principles:
- Visible Work
- Purposeful Discovery
- Growth Mindset
The principle is to be practiced in 12-week programs, the so-called WOL-Circles. In Germany there is a WOL community (consisting of representatives of AUDI, BMW, Bosch, Continental, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Telekom, Siemens), which has already been awarded for its commitment.
"Agility, knowledge transfer, silo dismantling, cultural change, networking ... – these are some of the big issues in times of digital change. If people follow the Working Out Loud sessions, their work can become more visible, more effective and also more fulfilling for themselves. They tend to be more self-organized and networked, which in turn leads to a more open, innovative and collaborative corporate culture. Knowledge silos are being dismantled, real knowledge sharing is emerging, and the result is agile, highly networked and digital companies", says Martin Krill
Scrum is an agile development method that originally comes from IT and has been used for agile software development for quite some time. However, the principle has also become established in many other areas due to its effectiveness. The method: A project is organized in so-called ‘sprints’, each lasting a maximum of four weeks. This increases speed and effectiveness. After each sprint, the customer is presented with the product, and the team takes up the feedback and incorporates it. In this way, existing problems are identified early and eliminated accordingly.
"Imagine: Projects are planned and time schedules are set for them, which unfortunately cannot be met. This leads to frustration for everyone involved. That is why there are approaches like Scrum when conventional processes do not work. Scrum has become one of the most popular agile methods and is known for its simple structure and clearly defined roles. For the Scrum team members, it’s usually very motivating, because everyone works at eye level and is jointly responsible for the success of a new product", says Ralf Hager.
This article is part of a content cooperation between FemaleOneZero (F10) and Hager Unternehmensberatung. The company, which specializes in executive search, has repeatedly been named one of the best personnel consultancies in Germany by the magazines WirtschaftsWoche and Focus. Hager Unternehmensberatung employs around 110 people and, in addition to its extensive know-how in the field of digitalization, is also considered a specialist in issues relating to diversity and innovation.