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We’re counting down the remaining days of 2019, marching steadily toward Workforce 2020. A new decade, a new world of work. As we do, three things are playing out simultaneously:

  1. Data gathered for the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2019  shows that a majority of the 3.3 billion people employed globally in 2018 had inadequate economic security, material well-being and equality of opportunity. In other words, most of the employed are not well-employed. What’s more, progress in reducing unemployment globally is not being reflected in improvements in the quality of work. Getting more people to work is not getting more done.
  2. Unemployment in North America dipped to an all-time low in 2019 at 4.1% (finding a 50-year low of 3.5% in the U.S. just two months ago), pouring fuel on the war for talent. We continue to recruit aggressively for available talent, vying for any head we can turn or steal from each other. Even if we’re winning the hiring game, we’re struggling with absenteeism, retention, satisfaction, productivity and morale. We perpetually seek fresh talent while the talent under our noses dies on the vine.
  3. The workforce has never looked more different. We’re virtual, we gig, we want co-employment and freelance work, we have a myriad of ways to connect with colleagues and clients to get work done, we’re socially responsible, we job-hop and that’s not terrible any more, we’re mobile-first, we’re demanding, and we’re antsy. The way we work (or want to) has changed forever, we have choices, and employers are struggling to catch up to expectations.

Three very different scenarios. Three very real scenarios. Perhaps there’s one answer?

Win the war for talent by waging it inside your company. Go to battle for your people. Give them what they deserve: make it easy for them to know what needs to be done and why, help them feel connected to their work and each other, and make it easy for them to do great things. Elevate workforce experience by designing it around purpose-driven humans: what we need, what we want, how we communicate and create and build.

That’s what every organization deserves and can attain – talent who will walk over coals for the success of the business because they ARE the business, they know and embrace the mission, they bring passion and inspiration to the work they do, they find reward and value in its outcomes, and because all of that FEELS GOOD. That’s what it comes down to: people will come to work for you (and stay working for you) if they have a positive experience. They will stop working (maybe still on your payroll) or leave if they don’t.

The paradigm of work has shifted to meeting employees where they are, offering flexibility, putting tools at our fingertips to allow us to do more faster, and moving us around where we can be most effective. Allow yourself to consider all the ways in which people want to be employed, want to perform work, want to connect and communicate, and want to be treated. Just imagine if you did.


  • If the 3.3 billion of us who are employed were fully empowered to do our best work, with economic security, well-being, and equal opportunity to keep us in the game.
  • If we developed agile talent strategies to retain, reskill, and repurpose our own talent to continually sharpen the competitive edge of our organizations.
  • If we met employees where they are, putting the right information in the right channel at the right time, in the flow of work, making it easier than [Amazon, Netflix, Uber, fill in your favorite and easiest consumer experience] to do the best work of our lives.

Perhaps the answer to under-employment, the war for new talent, and the changing face of the workforce is to imagine and deliver purpose-driven experiences designed around humans. Allow yourself to consider all the ways in which people want to be employed, want to perform work, want to connect and communicate, and want to be treated. Deliver on that.

If we did all that, imagine the output. The advancement. The pace of innovation. If we were all fully activated to do the best work of our lives, the oceans might be clean and landfills empty. Apple might make a battery that never dies. Data will predict human disease before the first symptom ever presents itself. You’ll never pay for internet, gasoline, electricity, data storage or higher education ever again. High-powered intelligence and automation release humans from mundane or routine tasks, freeing us to create and build. Your wearable device will act as a highly personalized virtual assistant. Fleets of NASA-run drones will replace eggs in your refrigerator before you can even add it to your Alexa shopping list. Cancer might be cured.

Apple’s famous ad campaign told us all to ‘Think Different,’ as their most famous inventor did so well. What if we Work Different, catch up to the year in which we live, imagine a work experience that is the best experience of our lives? If we change work, we may just change the world.


Jess Von Bank is a 16-year industry veteran and impassioned evangelist of the modern employee experience. As both a former recruiting practitioner and an expert in bringing HCM vendor solutions to market, Jess looks to broaden executive mindset to better design and deliver a workforce experience that exceeds the expectations of talent and the needs of the business.

Jess is the Head of Marketing for Leapgen and runs FuelWork, a global community for digital transformation of workforce experience. Jess is an active community emcee and ambassador for women’s and girls’ organizations in Minneapolis, where she raises her 3 daughters.

Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business. Contact us to get started.