Jacob Morgan is one of the world’s leading pioneers in the future of work and employee experience. After years of research on how the world of work is changing, he’s now published his third book, ‘The Employee Experience Advantage,’ and travels the world as a keynote speaker and advisor to business leaders and organizations. What drives Jacob most is his urge to create spaces for open discussions and grow a community called ‘The Future If,’ that examines the context of emerging technologies and its effects on work, management, and leadership styles, as well as the shifting relationship between employee and employer. Whether it’s speaking at conferences or sharing his thoughts on YouTube, Jacob always aims to help individuals and organizations be prepared and not too surprised about what is happening in the future workplace. Looking at how far he’s come, Jacob has certainly had some bumps en route to success. When he graduated from college eight years ago, he looked at the world very differently. Dreaming of becoming a CMO at a large organization like the Coca-Cola Company, he was hit by reality much sooner than he’d expected. Instead of cool projects, he was kept busy at his first job with data entry and getting coffee for his boss. This was one of his last full-time jobs.
“I started to become very interested in the topic of employee experience. At that time, I didn’t have many business contacts, but I had social media. So, while working side jobs in SEO or marketing, I began writing articles and interviewing leaders to explore what it takes to build organizations that are not terrible places to work. Eventually, speaking engagements and requests started coming in. Developing a personal brand is like building a house. It’s all about consistency, visibility, and frequency; picking a particular topic and producing a lot of content that people care to consume. Along the journey, there will be a small group of people that want to see you fail. Since I’m competitive, I had to learn not to engage with trolls and refuse to give their voice any space.”
Besides creating educational content, Jacob advises companies by establishing a relationship where teams have unlimited access to contact and work with him within a given timeframe — a role comparable to a private coach. This open and committed approach shows how Jacob moves seamlessly between work and life.
“The standard definition of work is the separate view of your personal and work life. If you look up common connotations, you’ll find very negative results such as ‘daily grind’ and ‘struggle.’ However, what I feel and see is the blurring of this line by which life is work and work is life. I mean you spend the majority of your time at your job, so how can work be a disaster while your personal life is great? People need to stop complaining about their work life, bosses, or colleagues. If you’re unhappy, decide if this relationship is worth fighting for or leave. From the organization’s point of view, it’s interesting to see that those companies that invest in employee experience and become a great place to work see their employees as individuals, not as workers. That’s a great start to changing the mentality to how work should really be. I would like to see unhappiness in the workplace become the new ‘not normal’.”
Jacob never gets tired of exploring, researching, and sharing his insights with the world. For his last book, he interviewed 150 senior executives in companies worldwide and concluded that an organization’s ideal employee experience ratio is 40% culture, 30% technology, and 30% physical space. For those whose goal it is to strike this balance, Jacob advises cultivating a senior team’s support. Internal activist or grassroots movements can be a great spark, but often fail to achieve real change without the backing of more senior management.
Having visited various workplaces from India to Europe, Japan, and the US, Jacob can confirm that the movement to rethink work has ignited everywhere. In the future, he hopes to help it spread even further to the point where organizations are built where people want to show up to work and not where they have to.