In a rapidly changing complex business world, how does one make sense of the future?
The answer, according to KellyOCG’s experts is to focus on four pillars: 1) Workforce, 2) Workplace, 3) Technology and 4) Social norms.
In case you skip any of the four dimensions, you start to short play how you look at things,” said Amar Ganeshan, Sr Director, Global Solutions India, KellyOCG.
Addressing a gathering of 32 senior HR and business leaders in Bangalore, Amar spoke about the ways companies can think about the four dimensions.
1) Workforce: In India alone there are 1.6 million engineers, 5 million graduates, 0.3 million MBA graduates added to the workforce every year. And the numbers are increasing by the year. A key question that organisations need to ask themselves in this context is: what should their composition of their workforce look like? And how are they going to organize themselves for the future? Even as research indicates that the future is going to be more fluid, and connected, are companies taking steps to make the shift from hierarchies to team-based structures?
Another trend that is transforming the workforce is the gig economy. Companies will have to think about ways they will tackle the ‘free agent economy’. Among the industries that are leading the pack on gig talent are the oil and gas sector, following the automotive industry. Ganeshan noted that talent leaders will have to reflect on how they are going to design workplace strategies that will engage them effectively.
2) Workplace: The way employees are thinking about the workplace is changing. It needs to match their lifestyle. While some workers want amenities like gym, access to retail, daycare and so on, other workers want their workplace to be a place that is akin to a flexible co-working space.
Talent leaders need to think about whether their office spaces reflect the aspiration of their employees. Is the space designed to cater to the needs to the changing worker preference? How does the rise of gig worker going to fit into this picture? And does the space allow for collaboration?
3) Technology: The market place for HR technology is crowded. With over 125 service providers tackling processes as diverse as candidate screening and HR automation, there are a number of options for talent leaders to choose from.
The disruption that technology brings can be categorised into three core impact areas: 1) the rise of augmented intelligence by leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation etc., 2) The emergence of the platform economy with the rise of cloud based- free agency platforms that may not always align with organisation’s policies and 3) The emerging beliefs surrounding analytics and cognitive learning. KellyOCG’s experts note that while the opportunities that these technologies present are true, not all of them are realistic as yet.
4) Social Norms: The regulatory, cultural, generational, and socioeconomic norms that define the world of work change over time. The change in these norms need to drive strategic change. For example: a number of professionals are now working over the retirement age of 65 out of financial necessity or out of personal interest. Another example is the number of studies that now show that ‘purpose’ of the company is an important determinant of employment. Recognising these norms and designing a strategy where there is no ‘one-size-fits’ all approach will be critical to the future.
Following the session was an open discussion moderated by Jatinder Salwan, Head - HR SG GSC Chennai Center, TA & HR Operations, Societe Generale.
From a future where the idea of a career is disrupted, to identifying ways to augment the current processes with technology, talent leaders present at the roundtable shared their multiple challenges with new workplace models like gig work and new generations of workers at the workplace.
One of the key focus areas in the discussion was on ‘reskilling’. The key challenge that HR leaders said they face is to try and understand the shelf life of skills especially in the context of technology skills. According to one participant in the discussion, ‘skill adjacency’ – i.e., a way to benchmark current skills and then identify the closest skill that could be adapted or learned, will be helpful both to the employer and the employee.
According to another participant in the discussion, answering the existential question about “Should HR exist?” will be critical to ideating on the opportunity areas that lie ahead in the context of the future of work. The roundtable discussion ended with a summary of the key insights by Francis Padamadan, Sr. Director - Asia Pacific - RPO & BPS Practice, KellyOCG, who encouraged talent leaders to Ditch the Script on conventional and traditional workforce management and look further in the horizon the seek What’s Next in the quest for designing talent strategy that is future ready.