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The Secret of Change

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I was tempted to take the easy way out for a Labor Day message and just repeat the one we sent last year. It seemed that little had changed, and the message still applied. But then, I think that doing so would be to ignore all the changes that are happening in our modern workplace and that will likely happen in the coming year. We cannot improve our workplaces by doing the same things when there is so much change. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Our current uncertainties about what will happen in our workforces in the coming year are an opportunity to push for changes in how we organize and manage those workforces. Employees are anxious to see that their employers have learned some lessons from our shared experience of the past 18 months. I suspect chief among these lessons must be the observation that our workplaces do not operate in a silo. What happens in a workplace impacts not only the employees, but their families, their communities, the people in the supply chains of their workplace, and the communities where those supply chains originate.

From the environmental justice movement to the responsible supply chain management theory, the circumstances of the world are demanding that those who design and manage the modern workplace consider significant changes. I suggest that every employer should have a change team. That team is to focus its energy on building the new. The team should look to outside resources for ideas but should also make sure the changes it suggests fit the culture, to the extent it exists, and business plan of their workplace. Our celebration of this Labor Day would be a perfect time to start this effort, if it has not begun already.

Everyone in management will need to be open to change. As George Bernard Shaw said, and Winston Churchill so famously quoted, “Those who never change their minds never change anything.” The opportunity for change looking to build the new modern workplace is here now. Let’s move ahead and make change happen.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.