No matter the industry, every business around the world is undergoing dramatic changes to the way it operates. From the increasing use of and investment in technology to the rapid transformation in skills needs and development to workplaces going hybrid or fully remote, every organization must adapt or run the risk of being left behind.
“What we've seen happening is companies that were maybe procrastinating, overthinking, or overengineering things like tech transformation,” says LinkedIn’s Head of Search & Staffing UK&I Adam Hawkins. “Then they were forced to do it, and they did it quite seamlessly because they had to and they realized the upside potential. It's sort of the fear of jumping off a cliff and realizing you can actually do it.”
Speaking at the ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions Transform Talent event, Hawkins outlined three areas that are accelerating the future of work: digital transformation, workforce transformation, and workplace transformation.
Relating to all things artificial intelligence (AI), automation and data, and how data and technology is democratizing the playing field, driving productivity, and creating a competitive edge, Hawkins breaks down the changes into three waves of automation: the algorithmic wave, which is where machines have the ability to take simple computational tasks and provide analysis on strips of data, which businesses can then use for competitive advantage; the augmentation wave, featuring the rise of robotics that can undertake manual tasks; and the third is the autonomy wave, which is about automating physical labor.
At the end of the day, Hawkins notes it’s how companies analyze and utilize all the data they’re gathering as part of their digital evolution. That’s where he sees tremendous opportunity for businesses who enhance data literacy skills within their organization.
“Only one in five people are confident with their data literacy skills, just 11% of business leaders trust their teams to use data in an effective manner, and 50% of organizations lack the data literacy and AI skills to achieve business value with that data,” Hawkins says. “Data needs to be driven from the top. Not just having analysts, but actually integrating data into all conversations across how the business is run and filling the skills gap. This needs to become an ingrained part of their culture.”
The rapid evolution of technology is effectively shortening the lifespan of the relevant skills workers within businesses possess. According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report, as adoption of technology increases, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.
Hawkins advises organizations to view this ongoing transformation from two fronts: skills evolution, including upskilling, reskilling, and mobilization of skills across the business; and attracting and retaining the best people in your workforce.
“Having a formalized process for greater diversity, which equals greater perspective and brings a competitive edge. Bringing in people that may not be the perfect fit for the role, but how we align cultures and values and the potential to drive greater value in the business. It will be about acquiring skills and potential,” says Hawkins. “Businesses that really assess and build confidence are the ones that remain competitive and keep their people.
Talent is no longer constrained and remote teams are powering technological innovations. Flexibility will be the name of the game. Not just for how businesses operate, but for recruiting and retaining talent. According to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, more than half (54%) of employees surveyed from around the world said they would consider leaving their job post-COVID-19 pandemic if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work.
What this does, according to Hawkins, is create a trust contract that is all about collaborating with employees and creating a fairer and more inclusive workplace with people doing different work, at different times, from different places. And, he says, those are the companies that are getting ahead.
“They're the ones that are able to segment their workforce in terms of their team and team norms, and also make sure that the best fit policies are in place. Spaces themselves will become more inclusive, they'll become more creative, collaborative and we'll see a greater rise of things like design thinking, where people come into the office not to work but to collaborate,” Hawkins says. “Companies that are really figuring this out are the ones that are going to be able to attract and retain and develop the best people within the organization.”
Ultimately, Hawkins puts the onus on employees to guide the actions of their employers.
“It's time for employees to decide what kind of organization they want to experience, and the experiences they want to create, and the environment and culture they want to nurture to help deliver their best work,” says Hawkins. “I think it's the time where we see those that are less cautious will definitely see the upsides and those upsides will be significant.”