July 21, 2020

Building a Workforce That Can Succeed in an Uncertain Future

In the last 20 years, technology has forced companies to reimagine nearly every aspect of how they do business. It’s technology that has compelled concepts like customer-centric experience design and ecosystemic partnership models.

Our challenge now is to reimagine work itself. 

After all, we are currently witnessing a total tech-driven revolution in how work gets done. Automation, artificial intelligence, digital transformations — these are tech-centered concepts that have introduced massive new efficiencies in business. High-performing organizations have spent the past two decades embracing, understanding, and refining their capabilities with those concepts.

But technical prowess only takes an organization so far. The people who use those technologies are the ultimate deciding factors in the organization’s success. That’s why recent years have seen an intense focus on the human aspects of work.

Deloitte’s own research into high-impact workforces looks specifically at human-centered redefinitions of work. In June 2020, Deloitte published a report, Workforce Transformation: Building the Workforce of the Future, that found high-performing organizations are already taking steps to systematically redesign the work that people do and the environments in which work is done.

In practice, this translates into three broad categories of transformation:

  • At the individual level, high-performing organizations are much more likely to — and be proactive about — involving workers and teams of workers in redefining what day-to-day work looks like. This input informs how work gets assigned, how productivity gets measured, and who should be responsible for what.
  • At the workforce level, high-performing organizations have a common language for describing the skills and capabilities its teams must possess to succeed, and those organizations then support upskilling initiatives to get workers up to speed as needed.
  • At the workplace level, high-performing organizations are reimagining the physical spaces in which people collaborate, communicate, focus, host meetings, and share ideas.

But we’re not merely talking about training modules to upskill teams or redesigning office spaces for better collaboration. Transforming the workforce requires a complete bottom-up reimagining of how human beings relate to the work they do and the people they work alongside. 


Harmonizing Work, Workers, and the Workplace

Deloitte’s research found that high-performing organizations don’t view workforce transformations as something done for cost-saving purposes. Rather, they look to include a variety of stakeholders — employees, too — so that the company can generate value for society and meaningful work for employees.

That kind of work tends to be done in groups, is more fluid than static, and is focused on value rather than process.

Importantly, too, these organizations are more likely to use technologies like AI and automation to augment human capabilities.


Empowering Workers to Grow Professionally

Deloitte’s research also found that high-performing organizations are much, much better at helping workers achieve their professional goals. These organizations

  • build learning into the company’s culture,
  • identify and develop leaders,
  • and align individuals’ career aspirations with their own workforce strategies.

All this is to say high-performing organizations pay attention to what their workers want to get out of their careers, then look for ways to open doors for those workers’ careers. That way, those workers are better able to follow their desired trajectories within the organizations themselves.

Empowerment in this context intersects with a few other crucial aspects of workforce management, namely workplace inclusion. An inclusive workplace creates the space necessary for everyone to feel empowered and welcome to pursue their ambitions. Not coincidentally, high-performing organizations are over four times more likely than low-performing organizations to leverage diversity and inclusion in their workforce strategies.


Rewarding Creativity

Creativity will become increasingly important as work creates more human-machine partnerships. 

AI and algorithms will be responsible for what they’re good at — analyzing and parsing data — and humans will be responsible for applying their own unique creativity in pursuit of the organization’s goals.

Therefore, any organization primed for future success must reward and nurture the creativity of its workers. This means giving everyone the chance to be inspired, to experiment, and to iterate.

Creating that culture is easier said than done, however. It takes transparent communication, both vision and buy-in from workers when change becomes an objective, and a workplace in which people feel safe challenging norms and status quos.


Webinar Coming Up

Put simply, a workplace in which people feel included, respected, and empowered to take risks provides fertile ground for a vibrant workforce to flourish. A July 29 webinar with Deloitte will explore how to design workforces and workplaces that prepare companies for long-term success in an uncertain world.

Register for the webinar to learn:

  • How high-performing organizations are preparing for the future by co-creating work in partnership with their employees
  • How these organizations plan to reimagine talent management as it integrates artificial intelligence and other technologies
  • Why the companies poised to succeed over the next 10 years will center on employee development, inclusion, and collaboration