The first two years of the 2020s have caused unprecedented disruption to the world of work.
Remote working has become widely accepted, mental health and wellbeing is being prioritized and HR tech has rocketed up the agenda as the only way for everyone to work productively from anywhere, to name a few changes.
These transformations taught employers and employees alike a lot. But the main thing that was learnt was “how adaptable the workforce…and organizations are”, according to Jeff Schwartz, senior advisor on future of work at Deloitte and vice-president of insights and impact at HR tech company Gloat.
Schwartz tells UNLEASH that the 2020s so far have caused a “mindset shift”. He is clear that COVID-19 has not been a detour as some categorize it; instead, it has been an “onramp to a whole new way of working”. “We have seen this amazing potential in the workforce”.
He gives the example that pharma companies were able to develop vaccines for COVID-19 – a novel virus – in less than a year; that is ten times quicker than normal.
Talent leaders at those pharma companies “couldn’t pick up the phone and say ‘send me 1,000 mRNA coronavirus [experts]” because they didn’t exist.
“But what did they have? They had people in oncology, diabetes and heart disease, they had people that could do drug configuration and people who had been researching mRNA technology”. “They had people who could understand cold chain and supply chain”.
While the 2020s so far have been about learning to be adaptable, “now we get to ask the question, what do we want to do differently in 2022?”, asks Schwartz. “How do we take that mindset shift forward in 2022…to reimagine and redesign work?”
Talent marketplaces as the future
Schwartz is fundamentally optimistic that the future of work is going to be better than the future, and technology has a fundamental role to play.
“The good news is that we’re had massive [technological] experimentation in the last few years”, particularly during the pandemic.
He argues that it is going to be central for dialing up employee experience in response to the ‘Great Resignation’ (or Schwartz’s preferred term from the Washington Post’s Heather Long the ‘Great Reassessment’) and beyond.
“Employees are telling us they want to do interesting things and they want growth opportunities” – and they want to do this in their current company. “But every survey tells us it is easier to find a more interesting new career and job outside your organization than inside”.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 US workers by Gloat found that 65.8% are looking for new jobs because they want better opportunities (this is the second main reason for their job-hunting), 73.9% believe there are better or more opportunities outside their organization, and 63.4% said they would like to be considered for new and different career opportunities within their organization.
This is where talent marketplaces come into play. Ultimately, it helps to “match the work you need to get done [and available opportunities] with the people that you have” and that’s never been done before.
Employee experience is more than just how they use administration software to book their holidays or clock in and out; it is about what it means “to match your work, your aspirations, and your life in a new way”.
For business leaders, the benefits are they have “unbelievable visibility into the organization” as marketplaces generate information and data about employees, their skills, and their desires.
“People want opportunity, growth and choice in their work. When organizations set up the programs, technology, and culture to do that, then amazing things are going to happen”, notes Schwartz.
From talent acquisition to talent access
Schwartz continues to discuss the shift during the 2020s from primarily looking at external recruitment to also focusing on internal recruitment.
“How can we as an organization access talent? It is not about acquiring talent – that is one of the things that we need to do, but it is just a subset of this broader category accessing talent”.
The big question for 2022 will be whether you successfully access talent, internally or externally, with the help of talent marketplaces and other technology. This also feeds into the importance of keeping the door open to alumni to return to your organization.
According to Schwartz, “boundaries and career trajectories are much more permeable and multi-directional” than ever before (particularly for the younger generation).
In the current and the future of work, “it is not you’re either with us or against us”, Schwartz explains. “We need to welcome people on the way in, and we need to hug them on the way out. We need to recognize that sometimes the right thing for the individual is to try something new” but have the permeability for them to come back if that is the right thing at another point in time.
Ultimately, for Schwartz, technology like talent marketplaces are “creating career agility and an entirely new way that people can explore careers”.
Success in the future of work will depend on employer choices about technology that doesn’t just create incremental efficiencies but transforms work for the better. 2022 will be the year to be proactive and invest in innovative technology; will you sink or swim?