‘New Fundamentals for a Boundaryless World‘, the title of Deloitte’s latest human capital research report, aims to make sense of the modern workplace; to allow HR teams and those in the wider business to make the most of this relatively new-found flexibility and leverage the uncertainty that’s part and parcel of working in distributed – and disparate – teams.
All of us here at UNLEASH are very excited to be partnering with them on getting the key messages, insights out there into the marketplace, and this first piece of activity in our months-long partnership with Deloitte did not disappoint.
The key word in the title of this report is ‘boundaryless’. Never have we been more globalized and yet apart, and HR can be the glue we need to bind our workforces together.
First look at Deloitte’s research
For this first session, Kraig Eaton, principal at Deloitte Consulting and Nicole Scoble-Williams, global future of work leader, took us through the research in what promised to be an overview but in fact delivered significant and unmissable detail in this 13th edition of a storied look at human capital trends and labor changes the world over.
“We have seen boundaries of work falling away because they were forced to be challenged”, noted Kraig Eaton, as he set his stall out for the hour ahead to underline the need for change in a working world, the values of which are clearly shifting – with or without HR’s input.
So – what are these fundamentals? What are the new rubrics for human capital in 2023?
- Framing the challenge: Think like a researcher
Navigating the end of jobs
Powering human impact with technology
Activating the future of workplace
- Charting a path: Co-create the relationship
Negotiating worker data
Harnessing worker agency
Unlocking the workforce ecosystem:
- Designing for human impact: Prioritize human outcomes
Taking bold action for equitable outcomes
Advancing the human element of sustainability
Elevating the focus on human risk
Laid out like that, it’s clear to see the journey that Deloitte suggests organizations embark on: Research; Plan; Execute. Prepare; Strategize; Rationalize. However you choose to frame it, the watchwords are ones of considered action.
Typically, the HR tech stack is central to many of these positive shifts as the perception of tech’s potential moves from one of replacement to one of assistance, as Eaton says: “We continue to shift from tech automating work to tech augmenting the human and the team better”.
‘The human capital agenda is at the forefront of all senior business leaders minds, not just HR’, continues Eaton, underlining the what’s been in evidence in HR teams across industries the world over. HR’s viewpoint is central to the business agenda. The people agenda is the business agenda.
The polls peppered throughout the session turned up some interesting results, some predictable, some not so:
Skills (or lack of) proved most disruptive to long-term busines strategy – this much we know.
But in later questioning of the audience it was revealed that leadership commitment was the biggest barrier to enabling teams to drive outcomes. This drastically needs to change if we want to keep pace with the changing world of work.
As Nicole Scoble-Williams, taking over to dive further into the future of work-focused aspects of the report agreed, suggesting that “we need to position the workplace as an input to work itself” and that it’s time to “define work [and] make worker decisions based on skills.”
Finally, if there was any reminder needed that the human is front and center of this research, Kraig Eaton urged the audience to “understand the workforce better by segmenting their needs, purpose and passions better”.
Scoble-Williams agreed, reiterating the need to “prioritize human outcomes and advance the human element of sustainability”. And concluding on the new leadership paradigm it was noted that “anybody that influences work in pursuit of business outcomes is deemed a leader”, so the question becomes, “how do we empower individuals inside and outside organizational walls to step up and bring new capabilites?”
Above all, the mantra from this webinar discussion was the imperative for people to continue to make connections. With research as comprehensive, wide-ranging and analytical as this, it sets out a possible blueprint for a new phase of employer-employee relationships, but more than that, it posited the idea that anyone can – and should – lead.
As Eaton reminds us: “to drive the highest level of productivity, you need to drive the highest level of engagement with everyone who does work”.
The concept of leadership is now applicable to the entire workforce, with the whole concept of the ‘workforce’ constantly reconfigured to include those both inside and outside the walls of your organization, on the payroll and contractors.
Expect more from Deloitte and UNLEASH as 2023 progresses – live and asynchronous, on-demand and in-person, we’ll be hearing a lot more about their research this year. Stay curious.
If you missed it – catch up with the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report webinar here.
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