Having recently published our Top 20 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Future of Work (August 2019), we asked a selection of our Thinkers360 global influencers about their thoughts on the future of work and what we can expect to see over the next three years.
We were particularly interested in finding out what issues they believe will be top-of-mind for C-level executives over the next three years and where they anticipate enterprises will be in their future of work journeys in three years’ time.
On what’s top-of-mind, topics such as upskilling the workforce for the era of AI, automation roadmaps, technology and culture change, the war for talent, labor shortages, trade uncertainties, and employee health and well-being all came into the discussion.
Some of the key issues are still how to create the urgency for change, determining one’s role and value as a leader, leading without the help of pure organizational power, the future of HR, dealing with new competitors, increasing the emotional and intellectual potential of employees, and growing technical skills (e.g. for data-based decision making) across the entire workforce.
On what we can expect to see over the next three years, stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, coming next week…
What issues will be top-of-mind for C-levels with regard to the future of work over the next three years?
Our research revealed some of the key frustrations that stand out for knowledge workers, including tedious administrative tasks; too many unfocused meetings; and an accelerating, data-fueled work pace that is upending work/life balance. Smart leaders will invest in the technology and culture changes that enable much greater flexibility, agility, and creativity. Rather than luxuries, these changes should be seen as fundamental to the very competitiveness of their organizations. Attracting and retaining the best talent depends on a climate of trust and a culture of learning and opportunity — supported by the digital tools that unlock collaboration and innovation across borders.
– Kevin Delaney, Executive Editor, CISCO Inc.
The most exciting shift we are experiencing today is the realization that large companies can act with agility. Forward-looking organizations – those that are outperforming their peers in fast-moving environments – are evolving from hierarchies into platforms in which passionate, smart employees who understand what the world needs, can rally the resources and teams needed to profitably pursue a better future. You already see the contours of these future forms of organization in the organizational designs of companies like Alibaba, Amazon, and Haier.
– Kaihan Krippendorff, Founder, CEO, Outthinker Strategy Network
The simple answer is to create an urgency for change. Next, be clear about expectations and provide the tools that enable the organization to steer toward opportunities. Don’t do this last minute: you want to see the opportunities and threats from a mile away.
– Laura Goodrich, Co-Founder, GWT Next
The big issue won’t dawn on them until it is too late, but it is this: what is my role as a leader, what value do I actually create? The future of work is about broadly scaled proposition building in startup-like cultures that know the digital world. Some companies like Unilever get this, but many are stuck on today’s franchise or rent – they don’t know how wide their adjacencies need to be.
– Haydn Shaughnessy, Founder, Flow Academy
Over the next three years what will be top of mind for CEO’s will be three crucial topics. The impact of automation on the workplace. Many workers feel that they will be replaced by robots. This could produce low employee morale, productivity and result in less than stellar financial results. Second will be the war for talent. People create products, services, processes and profit. With that said, talent will be a crucial element to organizational success. The right people, in the right seat on the right bus is important to CEO’s moving forward. With technology playing a major role in the future, it will be important for the new talent to have a great grasp on interpersonal skills. Digital technologies and analytics will play a major role in recruiting and developing talent. The third area that will be top of mind for CEO’s will be the future of HR. CEO’s want to quantify HR. More assessments and ways to measure every activity will be deployed by HR. HR will be disrupted and redesigned by these technologies. That is happening now.
– Terence Jackson, Ph.D., Chief Effectiveness Office/COO at JCG Consulting Group LLC
The future of business is being shaped by numerous powerful forces: artificial intelligence, machine learning, automatization and digitalization. Implementing these modern technologies is crucial for future enterprise development. But that’s not enough. Jobs will disappear and new jobs will be created. However, there are still skills that machines and programs cannot perform as perfectly as humans. Over the next three years, enterprise executives should be thinking about these aspects: increasing emotional and intellectual potential of their employees, using empathy and “reading” people’s emotions and sub-consciousness impulses based on how they act/buy, better communication skills, as well as diversity, humanity, imagination, creativity and vision for the future projects.
– Catherine B. Roy, CEO and Founder at LHM International
In the next three years, companies will have to create an automation road map defining what areas will be automated first, to what extent, and how the human-machine interaction will happen. That process will make more evident both the need to go above and beyond to retain key talent and how to prepare and educate them continuously to be functional and productive. Companies will have to redefine their meritocratic systems, key performance indicators, and re-think the work contracts and deals. They will intensify the use of new models as geographically dispersed teams, remote work, internal-external hybrid teams, collective thinking, and micro-consultants. To welcome all those changes and stay productive, companies will use a plethora of HR tech solutions. They will help manage, develop, nurture, and support high performing teams.
– Cesar Keller, CEO, WORKPLACE21
Probably the biggest challenge for C+ executives over the next three years will be sustainability. Labor shortages as more and more Baby Boomers leave the workplace leaving fewer and fewer workers to replace them will cause bottlenecks. Global instability will make moving work off-shore riskier and yet still necessary. Finally, the rising expectations around safety and environmental responsibility of stakeholders is likely to be a big concern.
– Phil La Duke, Principle Consultant at Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
Over the next 3 years, we’ll see more tasks outsourced to software or robotics, especially mundane tasks. In turn, corporations will require more data scientists and analysts who understand what data can be collected or bought for C-levels to make more educated business decisions.
– Robin Farmanfarmaian, Professional Speaker & Entrepreneur; CEO & Co-Founder at ArO
Over the next many years, we all are likely to witness some of the most significant disruptions related to the new world of work as automation, gig economy, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work. Job transformations, changing population dynamics, emerging skills gaps, reskilling and continuous learning initiatives are the key challenges to look for by the C-levels.
– Soumyasanto Sen, HR Technology & People Analytics Leader and Advisor | Strategist Future of Work | Keynote Speaker & Writer at People Conscience
Unfortunately, there’s a massive gap between will be top of mind and should be top of mind. What most organizations will continue to focus on: How to leverage AI/et al to cut costs. What should be top-of-mind for most organizations: Upskilling the workforce for the Era of AI. We have a future of work leadership problem. We’re leaving too many people behind. This will impact companies, societies, and us all.
– Bill Jensen, CEO, The Jensen Group
The job of C-level execs will get harder. Coping with uncertainty will be a critical competence and they will have to constantly plan for multiple potential scenarios. Issues such as international trade uncertainty, breakdown of global supply chains and emergence of new entrants will increasingly demand much greater flexibility from the workforce, strategic partnerships and local supply chains. Add to this the impact of 5G and how this will transform the expectations of the digital customer. Frankly, there’s never been a better and more exciting time to be in management.
– Tony Boobier, Owner & Chief Executive, Boobier Consulting
Senior leadership will be grappling with three key issues pertaining to the future of work over the next three years for their organizations to remain relevant and competitive in the rapidly evolving Digital Age. First, how to retain the ‘right mix’ of a motivated and engaged multigenerational workforce while being continuously lured by the transformative promise of AI-enabled technologies. Second, overcoming the dilemma of which emerging/new roles to incorporate within the corporate hierarchy and which existing ones to depreciate/eliminate to ensure/assure an agile organization. Third, how to design/develop/sustain a productive workplace that also caters to employee health and well-being effectively.
– Murad S. Mirza, Innovative Thought Leader, Multiple Global Publications
There is a radical shift, a transformation affecting every aspect of society (technology, of course, social technologies and values, habits, and concepts of economic value) while incumbent organizations have been largely left untouched and still follow the lines of a post-taylorist organization. C-levels will be actors navigating a complex web of connections when hierarchy will cease to provide boundaries and containment to organizational processes. Leading without the help of pure organizational power will require C-levels to be extraordinary individuals both in terms of their competencies and their ability to constantly drive experimentation. I dubbed them Freedom managers in my recent book on the future of work.
– Luca Solari, Professor, University of Milan
The biggest issue will be in developing the skills required to tackle the challenges of the next few years. It’s well known that technical skills are in high demand, but this doesn’t just refer to the IT and data departments, but as data-based decision making percolates through the entire organization, it’s vital that all employees have better technical skills so that they can capitalize on the technologies available. Similarly, as technology becomes more powerful soft skills are likely to be ever more important. For executives, managing to upskill the workforce when time is limited will be the key challenge.
– Adi Gaskell, Innovation thinker, writer and consultant
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