In my first blog on WEF 2017 I explored one of the biggest tasks facing business leaders today: the need to build a workforce capable of adapting to emerging technologies. In today’s post, I’d like to take a step back and look at how businesses can make their companies as attractive as possible to modern workers.
In a business world where skills are at a premium, employees are more demanding. One of the people we spoke to for our research report into the future workforce—Harnessing Revolution—was Chip Joyce, CEO of Allied Talent, and he summed up the situation perfectly stating: “If your company is not obviously the “it” place to work, then you better figure out what to do to make it compelling for highly marketable people to work there.”
One of the main drivers behind this imperative is the rise of Millennials in the workforce. These young workers have very different value systems to the Gen Xers that went before them: they don’t want to be “wage slaves” or “company men”; they’d rather work for a company they believe in, or somehow reflects their lifestyles and beliefs.
Our Accenture Worker Values Index, carried out as part of our report, quantifies this change: emotional factors like engagement, quality of life, and status are equally if not more important to workers than income and benefits.
In a world where offering a big pay check isn’t enough, or may not even be possible, what can employers do to ensure they can attract and retain the best talent? The solution lies in changing business practices and structures to be in line with what employees actually want. Part of this must include creating a more flexible idea of what the workforce is. Some employees will still want the perceived security of a role in an office, but increasingly workers wish to be flexible: to work where and when they desire and on the projects that both further develop their skillset and excite them.
In fact, a global labour study we conducted revealed that 59% of employees in developed countries view freelance work as an interesting option, rising to 86% in emerging economies. To facilitate this, companies need to widen their definition of the workforce to capture the army of ‘gig’ and freelance workers emerging in line with the rise of digital technology.
Similarly, work should be allocated on a project basis to employees with the relevant skills and who actively want to participate. It’s a win-win situation: the employee feels engaged and the employer benefits from greater productivity and creativity. It’s little wonder 79 percent of executives agree that the future workforce will increasingly be structured by projects rather than by job function.
The workforce of the future has potential to unlock productivity and help countries grow, even in an environment where skills shortages are emerging. However, to be successful, companies need to act now to become ‘it’ organisations: aspirational companies that offer employees a flexible structure and the chance to work on projects that truly excite them. These are collaborative organisations based on exchange ecosystems and platforms that have agility at their core.
To find out more about what the future workforce looks like in your country please visit our dedicated site and delve deeper into our research.