Preparing for the Workforce of The Future

15 July 2019

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New challenges facing human resources functions as the workforce evolves and adapts

 

Technological breakthroughs are changing the way we work, enabling ever-more collaboration between workers and machines; at the same time demographic shifts mean the workforce is more diverse than ever before; all while we face new environmental and societal challenges.

Against this backdrop, how do we plan for the workforce of the future? What skills and talent will we need to conduct business in this new world? How do we build, buy or borrow the skills we need? How do we prepare for the 80-year career? And what is the role of business in helping individuals prepare for the displacement of jobs and address new questions of purpose and fairness?

These were the questions we addressed at PwC’s Preparing for the Workforce of the Future workshop, held in London on 25th June. Senior HR leaders came to discuss the issues now at stake. We did so by reflecting on our own transformation journey and then through the prism of three company archetypes representing different potential paths that employers may choose to take in the years to come:

  • Cobotix – a business where robots and employees work alongside each other, requiring new skills from its human workforce
  • Affect – a purposeful business seeking to promote its values in broader society
  • Benchstrength – a company with no employees, only a platform for contingent workers.

We heard from representatives from government, industry and PwC who discussed the collective challenges we face. Where this took us was prioritising the key activities for organisations - and we honed in on the following:

The upskilling challenge - organisations will need to identify what skills and talent will be required and by when, as some activities become replaced by AI. There is a sizeable strategic planning dimension to this in order to identify the skills you will need to “Build, Buy or Borrow”.

Addressing the employee experience - With a more diverse workforce, there is value in personalising and customising all aspects of the employee lifecycle, enabled by technology.
Preparing for new employment models - HR will have to move from one size fits all to accommodate a different kind of workforce. With gig workers or contractors potentially representing 50% of the workforce over the next decade, we will need new ways of engaging and attracting staff.

Culture and purpose - New questions are being asked of companies about how they view their licence to operate. Employees want to work with organisations whose values align with their own, and not just what is read on laminated posters but lived each day. This means HR will need to think about the touch points and moments that matter to create more alignment between the organisational priorities and their employees.

Overall, the workforce of the future will need to be more flexible, personalised and purposeful – it will have to be capable of constant evolution. As a group, we agreed that success - indeed survival - will require organisations to start thinking through scenarios and preparing for this now. HR should be taking on that role - and indeed leading the strategic board discussions at the heart of equipping the workforce for the acceleration of automation ahead.

Find out more about the workforce of the future and how to prepare here.

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