Executives in every industry are acutely aware that new forces are intruding on, and sometimes overwhelming, their traditional imperatives to satisfy existing customers, find new ones, manage costs, hire and retain the best talent, and out-think the competition. These new forces represent a profound shift in the way business gets done and, in fact, threaten the very viability of the enterprise as we know it today.
Disruptive forces are altering every facet of business and society. Disruption also creates opportunity for those leaders who can embrace change and have the foresight to take the lead in transforming their workforce as a strategic response to disruption. Workforce innovation is integral to not only surviving but thriving in the fast-paced marketplace ecosystem in which enterprise organizations compete.
Deloitte has identified seven disruptive forces that leaders should understand and incorporate into their strategy for future growth:
- Technology has exploded from gadgetry to the internet of things (IoT), enabling entirely different ways of working and the need for all employees, and their leaders, to be “tech fluent.”
- Data has become a tsunami that can foster growth in organizations that access the power of big data and analytics to unlock customer insights and remain competitive, or overwhelm those that fail to do so.
- An expanding “cyber-physical world” is emerging that renews focus on efficiency and the automation of manual tasks in order to control costs and keep pace with competitors.
- Automation creates new jobs with essential human skills and a focus on higher-level value creation.
- Technology has changed the meaning of “career,” which recognizes lengthening life spans resulting in a 60-70-year work life with continuous learning and career shifts.
- There has been an explosion in contingent work with a distributed talent pool that improves productivity and speed.
- Diversity and generational change make open dialogue, employee empowerment, and inclusion organizational imperatives.
In the face of these disruptors, executives may be tempted to agonize over the impact on their business. That is absolutely critical to organizational survival. However, it is equally essential that leaders not lose sight of the fact that half of the disruptors described here are directly related to their workforce.
Massive change is under way in how work is done, who does the work, and the environments in which people work. Senior leaders can no longer dismiss disruptors as “personnel issues” and relegate them to an HR silo. Workforce transformation in the context of fundamental organizational transformation are inextricably intertwined.
Creating alignment between workforce-related issues and overall business strategy begins with the following questions being asked:
• Do you have the right people?
• As automation expands, how will it be integrated into the workplace while retaining and motivating your best employees?
• As the pace of market change accelerates, is your organization nimble enough to adapt?
• How do you incorporate innovation while maintaining operations?
• How are you identifying what needs to be done to survive a disruptive future?
In today’s world, restricting strategic thinking to such traditional concerns as market position, acquisitions, technology implementation, and cost reductions is dangerously shortsighted. Failure to align these strategic plans with changing workforce realities can create a downward cycle affecting hiring, retention, motivation, and execution.
Because business leaders are expected to anticipate, respond to, and thrive in the face of disruption, they must integrate a similar anticipation of, response to, and embrace of workforce change.
Workforce transformation will be a partnership among all levels of management and human resources. It will come about with a clear understanding of the future of work, the workforce, and the workplace. Organizational adaptation can be facilitated by rapid cycles of experimentation, analysis, and implementation in the context of operational excellence.
Workforce innovation is multifaceted and requires expertise, technology acumen, business understanding, and the ability to reach outside your domain for new ideas. By aligning a workforce strategy for the future with other elements of business planning, you can accelerate your organization’s ability to evolve, sustain improvements, and thrive in a rapidly changing market.
Addressing the seven disruptors that are already affecting your organization is key to a future of exponential growth with a workforce that is eager to embrace it.
In the face of disruption, a strategic response to workforce transformation—that aligns with business strategy—can effectively future-proof enterprise operations. The key differentiator at Deloitte is our continued focus on innovation. We help clients drive transformation through a highly collaborative approach by bringing forth deep industry experience that can provide significant impact. Our work focuses on the need to address the complex and evolving global environment by strengthening the intersections between technology and talent to help our clients become future-ready.
What could work look like tomorrow? Learn more about the new realities facing today’s leaders.
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