The workplace is about to get a makeover.

Speaking at OZY Media's annual arts and innovation festival in New York City's Central Park over the weekend, Wharton professor Adam Grant and author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, discussed a future shift to an employee-minded business model that emphasizes workplace culture.

Sinek, best known for his book, Start With Why, said that current consumer-minded business models that prioritize the needs of customers over people within the organization are outdated, having first been adapted in the 80s and 90s. "These ideas and others are now the standard way of doing business but for the fact that these are no longer boom years and they no longer work, quite frankly," Sinek said. "I hope that there will be a complete rejection of those ideas where focus comes entirely on the people inside the company first."

For his part, Grant agreed. The highest-rated professor at Wharton Business School and best-selling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B, explained that in the rise of the service industry--wherein we could be seeing a much bigger market for high quality care and service--it's imperative that companies treat their employees well. "There's no organization that can sustainably say, 'We're going [to treat] our employees really poorly but then have really really great customer service,'" said Grant.

So how do you know if you're at a forward-thinking employer? It all comes down to the culture, according to Sinek and Grant. And they had two tips for people to assess company culture before agreeing to step on board. Sinek suggested asking the interviewer if they loved working at the company. "I never used the word 'like,'" he advised. "I use the word 'love.'" He would then gauge the response: If it was tepid, he knew that the person trying to sell him on the company wasn't even excited about working there, and he would steer clear.

Grant had a similar approach. He said he would ask an interviewer to tell a story about something that would only happen at that company. Stories are more useful than descriptions, Grant explains. "You don't ask people to describe their culture, they're going to say 'Oh, these are our values,'" he said. "That doesn't tell you anything about what it's like to work there."

Published on: Jul 25, 2017