Jacob Morgan is one of the world’s leading authorities on the future of work and employee experience. Jacob Morgan is a 3x best-selling author, speaker, and futurist who advises business leaders and organizations around the world. His is also the founder of FutureofWorkUniversity.com.
Here are the excerpts of the interview with Jacob.
What are the top trends that are changing the workplace dynamics today?
There are quite a few actually depending on how micro or macro you want to look. Changing demographics are a big one; we are living longer and retiring later not to mention we have given generations in the workforce and millennials as the dominant demographic currently. Next we have technologies like AI, IoT, big data, cloud computing, and many others which are changing how we work and how we think about and design jobs. A shift towards diversity and inclusion is another big trend and is changing the way organizations design their workforce practices, how they structure teams, and how they hire. Next we see changes in leadership styles, my next book is actually all about the future of leadership so I'll have more to share on this soon. A few others including: globalization, mobility, and a focus on purpose and impact.
How can HR help build a strong workforce of the future? How do you envision the future of HR?
HR needs to not think, act, or be like traditional HR. They need to understand that their job is about human transformation, not human resources. The big shift is moving away from being a function that exists because of legal reasons to being a function that exists because it's guiding and shaping what the future of work is going to look like. For an HR leader, the best piece of advice I can give is to spend less time on traditional HR stuff and more time looking at change, transformation, the future of work, employee experience, etc.
Do you think organizations are getting better at adapting to digital disruption? Or do we still have a long way to go?
Better of course, but clearly still a long way to go!
Do you think businesses today are doing enough to bridge the future skills gap? How can they prepare their workforce for the likely disruption ahead?
Definitely not. Interestingly enough, I interviewed over 130 CEOs on the future of leadership and most of them are very optimistic about the impact that AI and technology will have on jobs and work. My worry isn't that technology will replace humans; it's that we won't be able to upskill and retrain workers fast enough. Organizations around the world need to invest much more in leadership development, future skills programs, and in general upskilling and retraining.
Do think it's time for HR leaders to leverage new tools such as analytics and explore value creation opportunities just like business leaders do?
It's definitely happening already. In fact, if someone reading this is part of an HR team and not leveraging people analytics then they are already behind. Decisions with data are just guesses at best!
- What should be key considerations for HR decision makers as they plan to prepare for future of work?
- What is the future of work you want to see happen?
- What are you doing to build that future of work?
- What does it mean to be an employee or a leader at your organization?
- What are you doing to focus on the human and technology partnership?
Will AI and technology cause a jobs apocalypse? What impact will automation have on work?
Like many of the CEOs I've interviewed, I'm optimistic. As several CEOs have told me, if you think that AI and technology will cause a jobs apocalypse then you simply lack imagination. There's a difference between automating a task versus replacing a human. Sure, tasks are getting automated all the time but the humans aren't. Accenture, McDonald's, Evian, and many other companies around the world have invested heavily in technology and AI but not at the expense of sacrificing their workforce. This doesn't mean that there won't be an impact. I think some routine jobs will change but the responsibility here is just as much on the individuals who have those jobs as it is on the organizations who employ them. We all need to be perpetual learners!
What's your take on gig economy and what is the 'right' environment and culture that will be desirable for full-time employees, freelancers, or contingents?
I don't think too much will change in the gig economy world. The vast majority of us will have full-time jobs and some will be gig workers, but I don't believe some of the exaggerated numbers which state that the majority of the workforce (especially in the U.S.) will be comprised of gig workers. Sadly, there's a lot of confusion around how this group of workers is even defined so much of the research around the size/impact is hard to gauge. It's an important trend/group to pay attention to but it's not taking over, at least not in the near future. As far as how to treat them. I'm a believer in treating everyone like they are an integral part of the team, regardless of if they are full time, part time, or contingent. One of the things I personally hate to see if when I email people at organizations and directly in their email address I find they are labeled as "contractor," how lame is that!
You write a lot about employee experience. Why do you think it's important and how does it connect with business?
Employee experience is the next big battleground for organizations around the world. As much as we like to talk about technology, it's ultimately the people who are going to make or break your company. Employee experience is about creating an organization where employees want to show up to work by focusing on the three experience environments which are culture, technology, and physical space. I looked at 252 organizations around the world and found that the very best organizations have 40 percent lower turnover, are 24 percent smaller, have 4x the profit per employee, 2.1x average revenue, and have superior stock price performance (when compared against the other organizations I studied).