AGEING WORKFORCE & GROOMING YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: Technological Impact & the Reality of Future World of Work by Kgomotso Mopalami

SABPP Board Announcement
May 31, 2019
June 11, 2019

 ‘’Work” has a very different meaning today than it did just 10 years ago. A confluence of new technologies, cultural transformation and changing economic realities have made traditional approaches to recruiting, developing and retaining talent obsolete. Workforce 2.0, the next generation of professionals, is taking hold… Adapting to Workforce 2.0 won’t be easy. You need to realign training, operations and leadership around new understandings of work itself. Great as the challenges may be, the rewards are however, even greater. This is a chance to revolutionise the way you do business”[1].  On the other hand, Workforce 2.0 is the disaggregated labor force emerging in this environment and has four key characteristics, namely: millennials, increased use of just-in-time (JIT) staffing, the growing gig economy; and a higher proportion of remote workers.

Workforce planning has been in boardrooms, with much focus in analysing current workforce; determining future needs and identifying gaps. However, the critical question is whether that traditional practice is still relevant.  There is a generational acumen now, that speaks volumes to organisations; as we focus on the future world of work many questions arises on which direction to go. Dissecting different generational levels, clearly indicates that those age groups that are still relevant in the workplace, won’t be in ten years to come.  Organisations are fully aware that the world of work is changing, however some still lack the ability to provide experiences people need, as well as planning ahead. 

This simply says that With the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, many of today’s skills will continue to be crucial; however, a next generation of job skills has the potential to be even more of a wildcard, and leaders of today’s top companies should be taking notice and try to better understand how to find, hire, and cultivate the right talent. The next generation needs talent champions, leaders who understand the looming skills crisis and are doing something about it[2]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still the word that brings uncertainty and fear even in the HR space. Contrary, the focus should be directed on how to best deal with the skills gap identified as humans are prepared for the future. The Korn Ferry Institute advises that strategic workforce planning delivers two critical advantages: It helps leaders understand if they have or can obtain the workforce to execute their business strategy. It also assists HR leaders in reorganising, shaping, and deploying the workforce to deliver on their companies’ business objectives[3]. As defined by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Workforce planning is a core business process to align changing organisation needs with people strategy. It can be the most effective activity an organisation can engage in. It doesn’t need to be complicated and can be adjusted to suit the size and maturity of an organisation. It can provide market and industry intelligence to help organisations focus on a range of challenges and issues and pave the way for operational initiatives to directly support longer term business goal[4].

Workforce planning can thus not be eradicated, however, when performed, organisations should take into cognisance the future look, technological embeddedness and workforce needs and implement solutions that will still enable them to accomplish the goals and that speaks to the overall organisation’s strategic plan.  Simply put, organisations need to know how they will do things in future, and most importantly start to prepare now for the future. 

“Leaders preparing for tomorrow’s workforce know they face the twin challenges of producing growth and preparing for the new, often unknown opportunities the future will bring. The most astute leaders also know they must answer a deeper question: How can I deliver great performance by helping our people to thrive? This requires a clear vision for an uncertain world – one that sets out transparently the plans that allow people to take on new and augmented roles, and vitally, to create a compelling people experience. Most businesses still have work to do”[5]

According to PWC’s 2018 global survey of business and HR leaders,” Preparing for tomorrow’s workforce, today”, the following were some of the findings: [6]

  1. ‘’‘Tech-savvy HR’ needs to step forward HR’s ability to navigate the technology landscape is a top ‘at risk’ capability for organisations. But HR and other leaders don’t see it the same way: 41% of HR leaders are confident that their HR departments are up to speed in this area, but only a quarter of business leaders agree.
  2. Missing out on good ideas and flexible talent, more than half (58%) of respondents say they have no capability to use open innovation and crowdsourced ideas from outside the business and less than 10% agree strongly that they can do this. Similar numbers of respondents say they have the desire but inability to make use of flexible talent – people who work off-site at times that suit them.
  3. Doing right by their people – There’s good news: The capabilities that respondents’ rate as the most important – building trust, human skills and well-being – are the ones where they are taking most action. But there’s more for organisations to do: 55% have not taken action to create a clear narrative about the future of their workforce and automation.
  4. People experience dividend is at risk.  Although organisations know how important it is to create the right everyday experience at work – eight out of the top ten capabilities, ranked by importance, show this – they also say they’re failing to deliver. Thirteen of the top 20 ‘at risk’ capabilities relate to the people experience.
  5. Untapped potential in data and analytics Companies are struggling to use data and advanced analytics to make better decisions about the workforce. The top three ‘at risk’ capabilities all relate to workforce analytics and their use in improving the working environment and people’s behaviours.
  6. Time to get HR and business leaders on the same page – HR leaders are more comfortable with their efforts to prepare the workforce of the future compared with non-HR leaders. In 42 of the 45 capabilities we asked about, a higher percentage of business leaders than HR leaders saw their organisation at risk.’’

In concluding this, one can say it is never too late to learn and to do what’s right.  HR departments should be proactive in dealing with future plans and putting in place all the necessary tools to implement the processes. As the saying goes, “you may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”.  

According to (Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global-January 22, 2019)as organistions build the workforce today to attract the worker of tomorrow, several aspects should be taken into consideration, such as: [7].

  • business leaders to be more strategic when building a path towards the future of work
  • to understand the priorities and expectations of the current generation and the next one
  • to ensure that the workforce keeps up with emerging technologies and techniques, particularly those that will be deployed within the business or industry
  • making it a priority to think about what skills the workforce will need to have not just tomorrow, but in the years and decades to come
  • the inevitability that the 4IR will transform how people think about talent, drives the zeal to identify talent champion as a vital ingredient for organisations to successfully and profitably navigate the changes; as those will be the ones pushing the conversation around skills and talent, as well as creating a corporate culture that is nurturing and ambitious.

Therefore, keeping on top of the trend is non-negotiable for those organisations striving to thrive; they need to confront some brutal challenges as digitisation causes disruption at an unprecedented pace. Also, strategic workforce planning will assist HR leaders a great deal in understanding whether they have or can obtain the workforce to execute their business strategy.  Furthermore, to assist in reorganising, shaping, and deploying the workforce to deliver on the organisation’s business objectives; done well, strategic workforce planning helps to ensure that organisations have the right workforce, today and tomorrow, at the right cost.   “this is the foundation of strategic HR”![8].