Three Opportunities Shaping the Future of Work

 

how technology should inform our investment in people & culture

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The changing landscape of technology and human capital has massive implications on the future of jobs, wages, and the workplace. Current research indicates AI, automation and the gig economy will drive worker displacement, and the implications for C-suite executives and HR professionals are significant. According to McKinsey, the proliferation of digital technologies will partially automate most occupations, but not fully replace them, increasing the demand for highly-skilled labor able to manage this technology. Additionally, technology-enabled independent work (a growing subset of the gig economy) will increasingly draw millennials and future generations who crave flexibility, heightening the challenge in attracting and retaining top talent for traditional professions.

 

IMPLICATIONS OF INCREASED AUTOMATION & ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES FOR C-SUITE + HR EXECUTIVES

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HEIGHTENED DEMAND FOR HIGHLY SKILLED LABOR

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GIG ECONOMY CREATES NEW COMPETITION FOR TOP TALENT

 

In an already highly competitive environment, the companies that not only adapt to this new reality, but also embrace it and recognize the opportunities will be the ones that succeed.

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In building Ignite, we’ve had the privilege to speak with hundreds of leaders at companies of all sizes. Our research identified three opportunities for CEOs and HR leaders to respond to advancing technologies in today’s complex workplace, creating a competitive advantage by investing in what will attract and retain the growing millennial and post-millennial workforce.

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purpose & impact

While automation is causing new found anxiety related to job security, the reality is that companies will need to adapt to this changing technology, so competition for the best people will remain a core issue. An increasing number of menial tasks will become automated, creating the need for highly-skilled professionals to take on managerial roles. Companies will respond by investing even more to recruit, retain, and train this workforce. As the demand increases for these skilled workers, and supply becomes limited, talented employees will be empowered to demand more of what they want in their careers: purpose and impact. This is especially true for millennials who, according to Zogby Analytics, are disproportionately (85%) looking for work that is enriching for themselves and the world.

Companies that Drive Purpose also Drive Profits and Productivity

(stats via Harvard Business Review)

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85% of purpose-led companies showed positive growth, compared to 42% of non-purpose led companies

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Inspired employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied ones, demonstrating this opportunity has compelling bottom line implications.

The importance and rationale for cultivating purpose and fulfilment in the workplace should not come as a surprise to corporate leaders. The rise of conscious capitalism, purpose-driven leadership and a proliferation of impact-focused summits and conferences are all part of a growing movement demanding that business be a force for good in the world. As both the competition for top talent and the demand for purposeful work increases, companies must find ways to authentically and strategically integrate purpose and impact into their culture.

“Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”  //  Linkedin Founder, Reid Hoffman

The demands of creating purpose and offering impact may, at first, seem daunting. Especially for companies whose core business is not inherently associated with some type of environmental or social impact. However, offering purposeful work does not require creating or selling products and services that “save the world.” Rather, company’s values and culture need to cultivate a meaningful employee experience and demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. The Global Purpose Index explains that an employee experience that includes autonomy, influence, and recognition provides purpose. Numerous studies show that employees find purpose and meaning at work when their companies engage in community involvement and giving back. Ultimately, people experience purpose at work as they do in other areas of life: through relationships and opportunities for growth - both core to our next two findings.   

what can you do?

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collaboration & inclusion

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As remote, virtual workplaces become more common, it will be increasingly difficult for teams to foster the type of collaboration, trust and inclusion that are needed in order to succeed in today’s workplace. A study conducted by Ferrazzi Greenlight states that 79% of workers regularly work in dispersed teams. The new world of collaboration is filled with Slack messages, shared screens and Google docs, and very rarely involves the type of real human connection that leads to the cultural competencies and emotional intelligence that build stronger leaders and teams. This is not only true for remote teams but also for employees working in close proximity who often opt to send an electronic message rather than initiate a conversation or meet in person. Because these relentless virtual channels operate 24/7, employees are “plugged in” longer than ever, resulting in higher stress levels and increased isolation leading to loneliness. These lower quality interactions with fellow co-workers also reduce trust and minimize critical efforts around diversity and inclusion.

The proliferation of advanced technology and the increasing isolation of the workforce escalates the need to promote collaboration and inclusion. The results of doing so can be significant: increased productivity, stronger financial returns, strengthened ability to innovate and attract top talent. The best way to do this, organizational psychologist Adam Grant advises, is for teams to get away from the screen and into the real world. There is an opportunity for companies to encourage collaboration and enhance diversity and inclusion by allowing their employees to get outside their comfort zone through experiential learning initiatives (which will be further explored in the next section). The reward for doing so are more loyal and engaged employees.

what can you do?

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innovative development & recognition

Given the competitive and demanding landscape of the future workforce, companies will be required to identify and invest in innovative talent management strategies. To successfully recruit and retain top talent, senior leaders must revamp how they approach talent development and recognition beyond traditional benefits. According to Glassdoor’s Employment Confidence Survey, nearly four in five employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase, while nearly 7 in 10 indicate that training and development is the most important workplace initiative.

Beyond traditional benefits like health insurance or a retirement pension, employees are looking for their companies to invest in them, personally and professionally, through creative recognition and development. The spending habits of Millennials (72% prefer to spend on experiences over material things), provide guidance for creating opportunities for experiential training, development and recognition. At Google, employees who were provided experiential rewards over cash reported that "their awards were 28% more fun, 28% more memorable, and 15% more thoughtful." Employees participating in IBM’s Corporate Service Corp, an experiential leadership development program, have only 1% turnover, cite intense passion and pride for the company, and indicate preparedness to lead a global team.

Personal development and growth are a higher priority for today’s young and incoming workforce. Gallup's How Millennials Want to Work and Live report illuminates that 59% of millennials say growth and learning opportunities are extremely important to them, compared to 41% of baby boomers. Whereas recognition and development have traditionally been separated, these lines are blurring as more employees value real-world professional development over classroom learning, and memorable experiences over cash recognition. Experiences can provide opportunities for human connection, collaboration, and greater comprehension of new concepts and skills, all of which can lead to increased employee engagement and enhanced personal and professional development.

According to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice, today’s workers view their careers through a learning and development lens, making it one of the most critical talent management issues companies face. “Rather than an orderly, sequential progression from job to job, 21st-century careers can be viewed as a series of developmental experiences, each offering the opportunity to acquire new skills, perspectives, and judgment.” Learning and development departments will have to reinvent themselves in order to attract, retain and prepare people for the future. Not surprisingly, experiential learning has become a preferred method for training and development for numerous reasons, including: it promotes collaboration, enhances culture, creates emotional bonds and solidifies insights and learning.

what can you do?

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Technological advancement and artificial intelligence dominate the conversation about the future of work. Yet this doesn’t paint the whole picture. As Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Study correctly points out, we are entering the Human Age, where employees are looking to be viewed not as assets or capital, but as people. In order to unlock growth and unique competitive advantage, companies must provide purpose and impact, cultivate collaboration and inclusion for a thriving culture, and build innovative recognition and development programs for their teams. These organizations will be the ones that win the talent wars, reduce employee turnover, and truly embrace the future of work.

How Ignite Can Help

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for more information contact:

Ryan Jeffery, Founder & Co-CEO
ryan@experienceignite.com