It’s hard not to feel like everything we previously knew about work is being upended – and in many senses, it is, and will continue to be.
With this in mind, it’s all the more important to have access to thought leaders such as Deloitte’s Steve Hatfield, collaborating with UNLEASH to disseminate and put into context the reams of employee data that Deloitte has collected to make sense of all the disruption, and develop a roadmap for successful work in a changing world.
‘Workforce Strategies for the Future of Work’ delivered on this ideal, as Hatfield and UNLEASH’s Kate Graham looked at the challenges and solutions to thriving in this boundaryless working world.
As Hatfield pointed out near the top of the session, “it’s definitely a workforce revolution,” and businesses need to act accordingly. Across the data Deloitte collect, themes have been emerging – the necessity of green jobs and sustainability, the premium put on employee experience, to name just two.
And, as we dig into the key issues for employers, mentions of labor and skills shortages dominate, closely followed by flexible work arrangements. This is true to such a degree that over the next two years, 48% of the total global workforce will work in a mobile or hybrid arrangement.
Returning to flexible work (and workforces), Hatfield noted that gig workers made up 13% of the total global workforce in 2018, but this rose to 24% in 2022 just four years later. It seems obvious that the next stat – since last October, 800 companies in the US have laid off 473,000 people – is linked. The paradigm of work is in flux, and the companies that will do best aren’t the ones that try to force a return to old strictures and structures.
Despite that punchy layoffs number it’s “still a hot labor market”, said Hatfield, noting that there are 1.9 open jobs for every available worker in the US (as per Gartner US’s labor market research) – and it’s also worth reminding our audience that unemployment is at its lowest in 20 years.
As we go further into Deloitte’s data, Hatfield implores us to determine “what’s real and what’s more of a story” – Headline stats may draw you in but rarely give you the full picture. But we’re not here to lament, we are here to solve problems, as he turns to Swedish physician Hans Rosling for the quote that sets the direction of travel: “I am not an optimist, but a very serious possibilist.”
To that end, Hatfield gave his take on one of the most overused HR phrases of the 2020s: “The Great Resignation in reality is driving a dialogue about new pools of talent.”
So – who are these new pools of talent and what do they want? As per the 2022 Deloitte Gen Z/Millennial survey, the top reasons for younger workers joining a company are:
- Work/life balance
- Learning and development
- Opportunities and pay
Whereas, the top reasons for leaving are:
- Mental health
Clearly there is still an employer-employee disconnect in many organizations and it’s one that needs overcoming quickly. Evidently, it’s easy to go about it the wrong way, as one of Hatfield’s slide headers made very clear: “Productivity tracking is driving employee mistrust”. But – you can flip that sentiment, as looking at Deloitte’s data we find that 96% of engaged employees trust management.
Clearly the human challenges of the next decade are plentiful:
- Human-technology collaboration: “It’s about augmenting not automating.”
- Digital/virtual/metaverse lives: “25% of people will spend one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026.”
- Worker expectations and agency: “Gen Z is two times more likely to speak out at companies on social issues, eg philanthropy, DEIB or ESG
- Data privacy: The idea of consumer data privacy norms is now appearing in the workplace.
- Longer lives – more opportunities: “20% of gig workers in the US are over 50 years old.
- Stakeholder capitalism: “In a volatile world narrative employers want organizations to lead by example.”
The overall narrative is clear – everything revolves around employee experience, and tech has a big part to play. Hatfield noted: “The fourth industrial revolution narrative doesn’t do justice to the step change we are facing in technological disruption, and we need to move to a place where we recognize the organic and boundaryless nature of how work gets done.”
Productivity is no longer about throughput and output, it’s about outcomes, and employers need to recognize the key shifts transforming the future of work:
- Jobs -> skills.
- Employees -> workforce ecosystems.
- Productivity -> human performance.
- Employer-led -> worker agency.
These shifts aren’t without their challenges – if, as per Deloitte’s data, only 23% of workers believe their leaders have the capabilities needed to manage in this boundaryless world, a company-wide mindset shift is needed.
Only then can we “take these shifts and focus on re-imagining the work, the workforce, and the workplace.”
Sign up to the UNLEASH Newsletter
Get the Editor’s picks of the week delivered straight to your inbox!