Rising to Challenges of the Future Workplace: HR’s Perspective

HCLI Research
Published 10 October 2017

How will technology shape the future of work? How can HR make the best out of these changes? Ravin Jesuthasan, Managing Director and Global Practice Leader, Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers Watson, answers these questions and more.

Precedence of versatility and transferrable skills

The gig economy is just one of the changes organisations face. To ride on the waves of this disruption, HR professionals should realise that the array of jobs today can be deconstructed to map the transferability of skills and spot commonalities between job roles. The deconstruction of jobs will enable numerous other sources of work, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, to be applied more easily. AI will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for companies.

HR will need to shift its role from being primarily the stewards of employment to becoming the stewards of work. They will need to start working with business leaders to establish the new rules and governance mechanisms associated with the new plurality of means for work.

Coping with the shrinking shelf life of skills

Continuous reskilling is going to be critical but it needs to be defined and structured. Reskilling pathways for individuals which is based on both their existing skills and their will to be reskilled for the future. HR and businesses will also need to look at different employment relationships (i.e.; contingent workers, outsourcing, alliances and partnerships, volunteers, etc.) as alternative sources to get work done, leveraging different skillsets and expertise to ensure business continuity.

Using talent platforms will also be a key work strategy to match talent to work tasks, as the demands for critical skills continue to evolve at varying speeds across different industries. Talent platforms have the potential to mitigate the talent gaps by connecting potential hires to hirers. Online talent platforms have also shown productivity gains: increase of revenue up to nine percent and cost reduction up to seven percent across different industries.

Impact on emerging technologies on current jobs

AI, cloud computing, mobile and social media technologies are building on each other and acting as accelerants. AI has greatly benefited from the power of the cloud to store data and deploy solutions broadly while mobile and social media have generated the data needed to power AI.

As we are seeing in various consumer sectors, companies should see similar applications – combining these technologies and harness its ability to transform how they connect with employees and predict their responses to various promotions. HR is likely to leverage on AI to upscale the role of HR into proficient human capital management and development of high performing employees.

Preparing for tomorrow
HR first needs to start by deconstructing jobs and identifying the repetitive tasks that can be automated. It then needs to work with business leaders to understand the implications of various automation solutions.

The greater opportunity will be to re-aggregate the remaining tasks into new types of work and jobs.

Companies need to develop an attitude of “failing fast” with automation. The initial forays into automation will not go perfectly and companies need to have a learning orientation. Experimenting is critical before widespread deployment so organisations can understand not just the technology but the changes required of manager skills, leadership behaviour, processes, work governance, etcetera.

There could be a distinction between emerging and established markets in their felt impact from the advancement of technology. In many respects, the lack of long-established legacy processes and work solutions may be a benefit to emerging markets as they embrace the transformative power of automation.

Watch the video below to understand more about the deconstruction of work, and the opportunities that come along with technology.

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