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Do You Change Your People Or The Way Your People Work?

Diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace are increasingly recognized as critical to corporate success

Photo Credit : Reuters

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Technology is fundamentally revolutionising how businesses operate and deliver products and services. This digital revolution will disrupt everything we take for granted today including how work is done. While machines are primarily enabling digital innovation, I believe that the main driver for this innovation is people.

Therefore, to succeed in today’s rapidly transforming world, organizations need to embrace the concepts of empowerment, learning and balancing technology with people. Some workforce changes that I believe, leaders need to start understanding and embracing right now in order to navigate the digital future are as follows:

A diverse workforce

Diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace are increasingly recognized as critical to corporate success. Greater diversity in the workplace brings with it a wider variety of different viewpoints, which can be a critical enabler of innovation. Diversity of the workforce is not just limited to gender, it also means inclusion of the differently abled as well as people from different faiths and religion.  Several studies have shown the correlation between diversity and morale and that the most diverse companies are likely to have above-average profitability. An open exchange of ideas is essential to challenging how we think and work — which in turn sparks innovation. 

The gig economy – change of working practices

Most companies lack the ability to track, manage, forecast or effectively engage contingent workers. Managing contingent workers by “purchase order” fails to recognize the growing reality of the “gig economy” — and marginalizes the full talent and capability of those who choose to pursue a non-traditional career path. 

Hiring gig workers is a way to embed diversity and inclusion within an organization. In the current scenario, companies need to focus on being future-ready by responding to workforce trends with agility. Organization needs to tackle the gig trend with new and innovative approaches to engage contract workers. The concept has been seen as an effective initiative to engage with women who’re beginning the second phase of their careers usually returning to work after a maternity break.

Motivating and rewarding the workforce of the future

As the gig economy expands, the nine-to-five corporate workplace will become far less prevalent. One of the consequences of that is that traditional tenure-based, one-size-fits-all corporate rewards viz. compensation, benefits, succession planning are not fit for purpose for this new dynamic. Diversity of rewards programs will be essential. What motivates someone with a young family is going to be very different to what motivates a new graduate or someone nearing retirement. 

The impact of digital

Traditional tools of knowledge management viz. classroom training, job descriptions, staff directories, electronic filing systems will give way to new workplace strategies involving analytics, algorithms, big data and automation. Rigid organizational models that inhibit the free flow of ideas and information will need to be discarded and replaced. New advances in Artificial and Augmented Intelligence will in turn increasingly see humans and machines begin to work in harmony.

How can we as business leaders prepare for these changes? In my view, new technologies require new skills, and importantly, new ways of working.  Just employing people with different skills, or upskilling existing employees is not the answer. In order to succeed, organizations need leaders with a different approach and key things that need to be borne in mind are-

  • Educate and skill leadership teams to be more digitally-savvy, so that they are better equipped to lead and to meet the current and future demands of the changing workforce.
  • Reconsider traditional roles, organisational structures and people processes that do not reflect the subtleties of future work. 
  • Ensure that diversity and inclusiveness is embraced and supported by all leaders - old and new.
  • Instil a creative approach to work and workstyles, to engage further with the gig economy.
  • Create clear career paths for critical digital talent so that they remain engaged over time, and are motivated to be a part of the organisation’s success. Organizations are acquiring and providing digital solutions to clients and prospects however it is important that they also provide an enabling environment to their people to earn digital skills/credentials. 

In summary, we as leaders must rethink our people, digital and organizational strategies in order to be relevant to the workforce of the future. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Tags assigned to this article:
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Sandeep Kohli

The author is Partner and Talent Leader, EY India

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