Published 30 June 2017 Category: Business, Insights

Adapt or Die — 5 workplace changes that will impact every organisation

The world is changing more rapidly than ever and technology is the key enabler driving this transformation. Although these changing forces affect society as a whole, perhaps their biggest impact will be how they reshape the future of work — a though that sounds ominous to many.

Why does this one buzz-worded phrase bring so much discomfort? The answer is simple. Because, whether we like it or not, a transition in our workplace is coming and it will impact us all. Let’s begin with the perspective of organisations and 5 changes which will impact and force them to adapt as well as a few opportunities created as part of it.

Flexible Work Environments
This cultural movement is spearheaded by millennials who are optimising for “happiness”, prioritising flexible work hours, work-life-balance, and meaningful work. The organisations of tomorrow will by default, not expect talent to remain for multi-year careers. Traditional promotion paths, incentive structures, and job security are no longer ways to win and retain the best talent. Instead, companies will have to learn to become more agile and dynamic around teamwork and human processes; providing tools and just the right amount of structure to become a ‘flexible’ work environment while remaining efficient.

Enhancing the Employee Experience
As organisations embrace how some talent will come and go based on their own freedom preferences, there will be certain core employees who represent a more permanent foundation of the company. Retaining these people will be imperative and employers will take a more proactive approach in shaping the individual employee experience within the organization. We will also see a development of alternative long-term career paths which don’t require a hierarchical climb up the traditional corporate ladder (towards management positions). More options will be provided for individual contributors and domain experts to continue to grow and receive recognition.

Redefining organisational structures
As more of our work moves into the digital canvas, geographic proximity to colleagues becomes less important. Virtual teams will continue to evolve, eventually becoming the norm for how companies operate. Most importantly, instead of hierarchies, managers and office buildings holding people together, organisational culture will be the essential glue for any team to be aligned and the key ingredient empowering companies to truly differentiate themselves.
Reinventing Human Resources
As the war for top quality talent intensifies, HR will transition its role to become a key organisational asset. HR will become more data-driven in its process and decision making. Advanced analytics will help predict future talent demands as well as measure and anticipate retention, burn-out, performance issues, etc. Automation of this will be essential and the field of HR analytics will go mainstream. Talent management made purely on subjective instinct will be long forgotten and no more human bias in the decision making.

Machine + Human
The four points above all focused on the human — the number one key asset in any company. But what about the machines? Yes, some jobs will be performed by machines (robots and/or artificial intelligence). This is nothing new, as humans have been replaced by machines since the industrial revolution. It started with mundane and repetitive tasks in farming and manufacturing, but today it’s happening across higher skill jobs such as border patrol, dermatology and even recruiting. It’s fair to say that eventually, no job will go completely untouched from the impact of machines.

It is unlikely machines will be able to do everything in the foreseeable future and instead, the winning model will incorporate machine + human where part of the value creation will come from machines and part from humans. Overseeing machines and having the ability to edit and improve them will also be core skills, and the demand for technical talent will increase and expand across all industries.