Entire industries are being turned upside down by disruption. How can they help their people adapt?
Organizations across all sectors are having to deal with and lead through disruption. This disruption is coming from many directions and is driving revolutions in operations and business models. But one thing stays the same: organizations will rely on deploying and redeploying all types of workforces including people.
An organization’s workforce will experience the force of disruption in their own way — whether it’s the necessity of learning new skills, utilizing new technologies or having to work with a more diverse group of people. Organizations should be asking, “How can we help our people adapt?” And, as the nature of work and employment changes radically, how will organizations have to adapt their HR functions to realize their strategies?
What might this strategy look like in coming years? That question is wide open, and the answer will change frequently and rapidly for each organization. But the short answer is: most everything will change. Trends point to an increased focus on purpose, new approaches to globalization and market development, and taking a more agile and innovative approach to responding to market forces while driving the business forward.
The scope of people disruption
So what kinds of changes will organizations have to adapt to? The following are just a few:
- Changing workforce: For the first time in history, five generations will be working side-by-side. People are choosing to work longer, delaying retirement and simultaneously new talent is joining — older employees could soon be reporting to leaders the same age as their grandchildren.
- Changing fabric of work and teams: As the gig economy grows into a larger portion of the globalized people picture, teams will increasingly be made of contingent and remote workers, as well as robots posing new challenges for team relationships.
- New technologies: The role of machinery and humans will continue to be redefined with the increasing evolution of digital tools, including RPA, AI and the IoT or connected devices.
- New skills: Learning to use and advance higher-level technologies will require a whole new skillset and organizations will need to both retool their talent and hire new talent to accommodate the accelerating infusion of such technologies. By harnessing these technologies to enable their talent to focus on what makes them human — creativity, innovation, lateral thinking, intuition, judgement, collaboration — these organizations can tap into even greater growth and prosperity.
Maximizing your assets
Even in a technology-centric future, people will have a critical role to play in the success of organizations. However, without getting a strong balance between the right operating model and a leadership culture that is fit for the digital world, strategies will fail to deliver.
Overall, the message is this: organizations need to transform to adapt and stay ahead of the competition.
“Surviving in an age of constant disruption requires getting your people balance right — combining the digital skills and knowledge needed to innovate with the business sense and experience needed to survive for the long term,” says David Storey, People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP. It’s not about focusing deliberately on any one aspect of talent management, but on bringing together the different experiences and perspectives that people of diverse backgrounds can bring.
The good news is that the resources for the future are out there, whether or not they’re already within the organization: they just need to be managed in the right way.
For example, innovation relies on facilitating open communication: “an open exchange of ideas is essential to challenging how we think and work — which in turn sparks innovation. Encouraging diversity of thought is key,” says Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer.