According to an old Chinese proverb: “A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.” And to put it less eloquently—as Business Author Alan Deutschman once said—”Change or die.” As technology continues to advance and improve our daily lives, companies that don’t adapt to the changing times will be left in the dust. Is your company “future-fit”?
According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, nearly two-thirds (65%) of executives in the United States predict significant disruption in the next 3 years, compared to 35% in 2018.
As executives focus on making their organizations “future-fit,” significant human capital risks—including the ability to close the skills gap and overcome employee change fatigue—can impede transformation progress. Addressing these concerns is paramount, given that only 37% of executives rate their company’s ability to mitigate human capital risks as very effective.
In today’s climate of uncertainty, employees seek stability. Mercer’s study finds that job security is both one of the top three reasons that employees join and also stay at their company. Yet, one in five employees are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will replace their job.
The Mercer study suggests that the way to help employees feel secure is to foster human connections. Thriving employees (those prospering in the areas of health, wealth, and career) are twice as likely to describe their role as “relationship focused” and their work environment as “collaborative.”
“The future of work is about connectivity, creating a work environment that appeals to today’s workforce by building a coherent sense of identity, sparking connections, and using data to personalize the experience,” says Kate Bravery, Career Global Solutions Leader at Mercer.
Mercer’s study identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing to make their companies “future-fit.”
1. Aligning Work to Future Value
AI and automation continue to transform the competitive landscape—59% of companies in the U.S. plan to automate more work in the next 12 months. At the same time, the C-suite names job redesign as one of the top three areas of talent investment with the highest potential for return on investment, and 65% of employees prefer more clearly defined responsibilities.
The challenge for HR is to build an integrated people strategy (an approach deployed nine times more frequently by high-growth companies) and leverage the right talent analytics to inform decisions on the future size and shape of the organization—yet less than one-third of companies have good insights into the business impact of their buy, build, borrow, and automate strategies. “The key is aligning jobs and people to where value is being created, and enabling a mechanism to reward future-fit skills and behaviors,” says Bravery.
2. Building Brand Resonance
What matters to employees and jobseekers is the way a company conducts business and upholds the values of its brand. In a social, transparent world, the lines are blurring between a company’s consumer brand and its talent value proposition (TVP).
Successful companies ensure that their brand resonates with all workforce segments—63% of high-growth organizations differentiate their TVP to different groups (such as contingent workers), compared to 37% of modest-growth companies.
An organization’s total rewards philosophy is one area where brand values can shine: Thriving employees are four times more likely to work for a company that ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions (80% vs. 20%).
3. Curating the Work Experience
An effective and relevant day-to-day work experience is essential for retaining top talent. According to Mercer’s study, thriving employees are nearly four times more likely to work for an organization that enables quick decision-making (83% vs. 22%) and twice as likely to work for one that provides tools and resources for them to do their job efficiently (86% vs. 35%).
Personalized and simplified professional development plans are a must—more than two-thirds (69%) of employees want curated learning to help them evolve their skills and prepare for future jobs. Technology plays a critical role. High-growth firms are twice as likely as moderate-growth firms to provide a fully digital experience for employees.
4. Delivering Talent-Led Change
To ensure talent is at the center of change, HR should have a voice in business transformation. The Mercer study found 61% of HR leaders involved in planning the rollout of major change projects and 60% involved in executing those plans.
But, only two in five HR leaders participated in the idea generation stage of transformation initiatives. HR sees employee morale as a significant barrier to making changes stick: “Employee attrition” and a “decline in employee trust” are two of the top four challenges in the year ahead.
“These findings point to the need for transformation efforts to focus on people-centered design and better talent metrics to understand how people are experiencing and embracing change,” says Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business.
Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study shares insights from over 7,300 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from nine key industries and 16 geographies around the world. To learn more, click here.