Making the future everyone’s business

If you were asked, “Is your organization Future of Work-ready?” chances are that you may not have a ready yes/no answer. But if you were asked “Is being ‘Future of Work’ ready a part of your organization’s strategic roadmap?” will you have an emphatic yes?

 

The extensive research that led to our conceptualization of the  Engineering the Future of Work focus made it apparent that ‘Future of Work’ is not a single, major, overnight shift. It is a disruption compounded by multiple, significant changes - both at micro and macro levels. 

 

Developed economies around the world are dealing with an aging population, steep increase in education costs and pressure to find labor within their regions. Each of these is inherently tied to the other - creating a vicious cycle. 

 

The 4th industrial revolution and widespread automation is a response to these pressures. Automation promises infinite productivity (efficiency tends to infinity while labor cost tends to zero) on one side. On the other, it takes away millions of jobs. Automation, job losses, robots are coming to take over the world - these have been the dominant debates in the Future of Work dialogue. 

 

 The International Labor Organization found in their 2019 report that over 51.8% of activities in the workplace can be automated in India. However, it is predicted that while 1.8 million jobs will be lost to the imminent rise of automation it will also create 2.3 million new jobs.

 

Beyond numbers, a deeper shift is happening at the micro-level. Our own expectations from work and life are seemingly different from that of the preceding (and succeeding) generations. The employment relationships of the past were characterized by job security in exchange for loyalty. Today, as employers we provide ‘opportunities for development’ in exchange for skills. Undoubtedly, skill is the newest and most powerful currency. 

 

So, how do we, as business heads, navigate through this complex maze? How can we have a planned-out strategy to build organizational resilience for the Future of Work? Can we make ‘Surviving the Future of Work’ a part of our stated strategic objectives? If yes, where do we begin? 

Here are some thoughts.


Everyone a data-person!

Undoubtedly, data is at the heart of an FoW-ready enterprise. While not everyone can be a data-expert, a great place to start might be to make every single member of our teams ‘data-spect’ and cognizant of both the level and impact of data that they are generating and handling. 

Experts suggest that clear articulation of the activity expected result and data generated along the way will be immensely valuable. A great first step can be, to make a department- data-map.

 

What’s ‘automatable’

‘Let’s automate it’, seems to be the boardroom buzzword. But can it be? 

A clear understanding of the complexity of tasks, level of repetition involved, the impact of error - are some things that we can evaluate before the decision to automate. Andrew Ng in his course AI for everyone breaks these steps down to help businesses make the call to automate. 

 

Plurality in the age of singularity

Talent is the current source of competitive advantage - how joined-up can our talent-search approaches be? 

How can the right talent be sourced? Do we rely on hiring partners? Should we leverage popular job portals?  Can we try social hiring? Should we invest in a referral program? Our own experiments with social hiring have shown better hiring performance parameters. 

 

A room for the best

In 2018, some candidates surprised us with the question - “Can you convert this role into a project with an end date?” “I can come 3 days a week and do the rest as Work from Home. Can you turn this into a temporary work?” 

Many of us would have had such wake-up calls from the ‘neo-talent’.  For the want of great talent, are we willing to break long-term roles into meaningful gigs?

Freelancers, consultants, fixed-term contracts, temporary work, interns, permanent employees, contract roles, vendor-client arrangements - the options are plenty.

 

From rewards matter to rewards that matter

-       We are in a unique decade where 4 generations are at the workplace. The baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Zs co-exist in workplaces. It sounds almost bizarre that the same system of rewards and recognition would motivate all of them alike. As employers, we are under pressure to transition quickly to personalize rewards or a mixed bag that would matter to each generational cohort. 

 

While these are all great places to start the transition to the Future of Work, it is time we recognize that the future is VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Challenging and Ambiguous) and collaboration is the only way to survive. Recognizing the importance of bringing the various pieces of the complex jigsaw of work, the IET has announced its thought platform for Engineering the Future of Work. As a first step, a one-day international event will try addressing various pieces of the jigsaw articulated above. Our idea is to help attendees go back from the event with confidence and tools that would equip them to build a resilient organization and individuals for the Future of Work. Join the dialogue on October 22, 2019, at Engineering the Future of Work - http://fow.theietevents.com/. Let us continue the dialogue there!

 

Authored By: Anitha Kaveri, Manager - Sectors and Special Projects, IET India

Anitha Kaveri leads strategic sector initiatives for the IET in India and steers our sector focus for the Internet of Things, Future of Mobility and Transport as well as the Future of Work. She is pursuing a PhD in Management and her thesis straddles areas of organizational behavior, organizational psychology and vocational behavior. 

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