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Getting practical about the future of work

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/getting-practical-about-the-future-of-work

mckinsey.com

Getting practical about the future of work
What story will people tell about your organization over the next ten years? Will they celebrate an enthusiastic innovator that thrived by adapting workforce skills and ways of working to the demands of the new economy? Or will they blame poor financial or operational results, unhappy employees, and community disruption on a short-sighted or delayed talent strategy?

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The model of future work

By 2030, up to 30 to 40 percent of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or upgrade their skill sets. Skilled workers in short supply will become even scarcer. Any company that doesn't join the early adopters and doesn't address its underlying talent needs may fall short of reaching its goals.

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Employers should lead the way

The pace and scale that technology disrupts is a social, political and business challenge.
Employers are best placed to make a positive societal impact, for example, by upgrading the abilities of their employees and equipping them with new skills. Employers will also reap the greatest benefit if they can successfully transform the workforce in this way.

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Talent is the largest barrier

Talent is the largest barrier to the successful implementation of new strategies.

Many leading businesses realize that it is quicker and more financially prudent to look internally and develop the talent they already have. Yet only a third of global executives report that their organizations have launched any new reskilling programs.

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Supporting the future of work

Successful and continuous transformation of the workforce involves 3 broad phases that at first might seem common.

  • Scouting: Looking at the future needs, the company needs to identify the most important skill gaps. Then assess the organization's readiness to deliver.
  • Shaping. To redesign work for the demands of a more digital future, creating upskilling programs together with employees, and developing the infrastructure to enable the deployment of talent.
  • Shifting: Moving the organization's suite of talent-related activities onto a bigger scale.

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Capturing the full opportunity

The company needs to asses if they are capturing the full potential of new technologies to generate new revenues and not just trying to cut costs.

Many small individual initiatives within organizations don't see the urgency and end up falling behind, never realizing the magnitude of the opportunity in front of them.

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Shaping phase

Companies should gain a clear understanding of the way each employee and team do their present work and involve them in redesigning their roles and ways of working. It will spark better ideas and ensure pain points will get addressed early on. It will also create stronger skill matches and smoother transitions.

When organizations introduce new work, outside-in analytics and expert input can also help to find answers.

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Talent accelerators

Digital strategies are creating entirely new, mission-critical tasks. The redesigning of work is far more than changing existing roles. They need to identify the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and experience required, then look inside to find the best-fit talent.

Sometimes, employees may be identified that can already fit the requirements, and other times training and support should be provided to build new capabilities and skills.

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‘Offboarding’ with sensitivity

Workplace transition demands enormous sensitivity. Some employees may fall short of acquiring the skills needed to make the transition to new areas of work, while others may prefer to seek new employment.

Many companies are forming partnerships with new, tech-savvy outplacement firms to help prepare employees for fresh opportunities by encouraging them to acquire new skills and encouraging growth mind-sets.

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Accelerating the skilling engine

Companies will need to measure the return on their investment in employee skilling

For instance, the cost of giving employees new skills compared to the cost they would have spent on hiring. The expense should include the opportunity cost of waiting to hire.

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