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Creating Purposeful, Collaborative, Tactical Work on the Frontline: SAP’s Steve Hunt

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | June 14th, 2023

Frontline workers can have an outsized influence on the success of an organization. They are often the only interface our customers have with a brand.  

At RedThread Research, we have been diving into how to support frontline workers more holistically which is why this season we are focusing on the unique challenges that frontline workers face. We’ll also explore the changes organizations are making to empower them, as well as the good things happening on the frontline and how organizations can adapt those practices more broadly. 

In this episode, we welcome Steve Hunt from SAP. Steve has a unique perspective based on his work as an organizational psychologist in the technology space. This discussion was a fantastic way to open the conversation and sets the bar high for the rest of the season. Don’t miss it; press play now to listen. 

Steve’s role at SAP 

Steve is the Chief Expert for Work in Technology at SAP which means he helps companies use technology to create more effective work environments. He focuses on the intersection of work, technology, and psychology.  

As an industrial organizational psychologist, Steve has a unique perspective. He has spent most of his career working in global technology and has put a lot of thought into how we need to rethink work. He has carefully considered how to effectively manage people and create a more agile, adaptable, and inclusive environment using technology while, at the same time, taking into account human psychology. 

In Steve’s book, Talent Tectonics, he tries to make sense of why the same issues arise across various industries and how work is changing. Steve writes about the technological solutions that could help alleviate problems in the workplace.  

How Steve defines frontline work 

Defining frontline work can be ambiguous, but Steve has a framework to gain clarity on who they are and what they do. He looks at frontline work through three lenses: tactical, financial, and motivational. 

The tactical nature of the work tends to be more physical and time-bound. Financially these jobs are generally lower paid than other more professional positions. Interestingly, the motivation behind frontline work is often different than traditional “white collar” positions.  

The role of technology in the workforce 

One of the myths about technology is that it eliminates work. While it does eliminate certain types of work, it usually creates more jobs than it eliminates. At the same time, technology fuels economic growth.  

Frontline workers are hired to be adaptable, creative, and collaborative–something that technology can’t replace.  Steve feels that rather than economically devaluing frontline labor, we need to value high-quality workers by recognizing outstanding service.  

Technology will never be more human than actual humans–humanity can never be automated.  

Listen in to learn why it is so important to create meaningful, collaborative, tactical frontline work. 

Resources and People Mentioned

Connect with Steve Hunt

 

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