The evolution of work and workforce

Published: June 18, 2018 3:09 AM

Getting work done is a fundamental concern for any business. But today, paradigm-shifting forces are driving significant changes at both work and the workforce. First, the power of the individual is growing, and is likely to continue to grow over time.

work, workforce, industry, Labour demographic, MillennialGetting work done is a fundamental concern for any business. But today, paradigm-shifting forces are driving significant changes at both work and the workforce. First, the power of the individual is growing, and is likely to continue to grow over time.

Getting work done is a fundamental concern for any business. But today, paradigm-shifting forces are driving significant changes at both work and the workforce. First, the power of the individual is growing, and is likely to continue to grow over time. Labour demographics in India are poised to witness noticeable shifts with the simultaneous effects of lengthening worker careers and the influx of millennials, which is likely to increase intergenerational competition for jobs. Millennials have been seen actively questioning the core premises of corporate behaviour and the economic and social principles that guide it. Research suggests that priorities of the younger workforce emphasise personal growth and organisational ethics, whereas the older populations value flexibility and wellness. However, one thing common across the spectrum is a need to “learn” and “keep up” with changing skill requirements. Millennials rate “learning and development opportunities” as the topmost driver of a “good job”.

Organisations are seen becoming flatter and more networked, making upward progression less common—the individual and his or her experiences have taken the centre-stage. Instead of traditional job progression, organisations are seen shifting towards a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences and continually reinvent themselves. The traditional employer-employee relationship seems to be getting replaced by different economic models in sourcing talent through a varied portfolio of workers, talent networks and service providers, changing the dynamics of “who” does the work. Globally, there are about 77 million identified freelancers in Europe, India and the US. In this year’s Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, 50% of the respondents reported a significant number of contractors in their workforces, 23% reported a significant number of freelancers, and 13% reported a significant number of gig workers.

According to the survey, 57% of organisations surveyed globally use non-traditional employees, with India ahead of the curve, at 68%. But 26% of surveyed Indian organisations do not have mechanisms of managing performance of non-traditional employees, indicating some distance can be covered in aligning management practices with these external talent segments. What “work” itself looks like and how it gets done is also seen to be changing with evolving business models and the influx of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation into the workplace. Deloitte research shows that more than four in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61% are actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics. Today, it seems anyone who wants a well-compensated position should be comfortable with data and technical skills. But this no longer tells the whole story of skills in the 21st century, as tasks based on technical skills are vulnerable to automation.

As technology proliferates, executives are placing a higher premium on essential human skills such as complex problem-solving (63%), cognitive abilities (55%) and social skills (52%). To maximise the value of new technologies and minimise the adverse impact on the workforce, organisations must consider reconstructing work, retraining people and rearranging the organisation. It is evident that leaders realise the implications of these realities and have started taking actions towards the same. Our recommendations for leaders seeking to capture value for tomorrow’s realities include: n Explore and develop workforce management strategies that leverage open talent workforces to meet the organisation’s changing needs; n Emphasise human-machine collaboration, not competition—utilise the strengths that each brings to workplace; n Consider ways in which the business can engage in a broader societal narrative. Younger generations expect businesses to play a positive role in shaping society and helping address some of its most pressing issues.

Gaurav Lahiri & Deepti Agarwal

Lahiri is Partner, Leader Human Capital; Agarwal is Senior Manager, Deloitte India

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