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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 August 2018

Workers of the future will demand more than a pay cheque

Change brought about by technology will transform the workplace. Nuno Gomes reports

Companies must develop people strategies that reskill and upskill their workforce and facilitate a transition that returns a sense of purpose to people’s lives.  Getty
Companies must develop people strategies that reskill and upskill their workforce and facilitate a transition that returns a sense of purpose to people’s lives. Getty

Businesses around the world are coming to terms with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. The speed of the current advancements in technology – such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, autonomous transport, Internet of Things, 3D printing and big data analytics among others – is unprecedented. When compared with previous Industrial Revolutions, the Fourth is disrupting almost all industries.

The change brought about by technology is a reaction to the changing profile of consumers led by millennials, who are demanding smart round-the-clock services across all sectors. Organisations are now forced to rethink their traditional business models and adapt to the rapidly evolving business landscape.

It is no surprise that business leaders, HR professionals and employees are asking pertinent questions such as:

  • How do we build for a digital future?
  • How can we attract and retain tomorrow’s workforce?
  • What does success look like in this new world of work?

Against this backdrop of disruption, organisations need to distinguish themselves from others to stand out. Thriving organisations, ie those that transform their work environment into a compelling experience, will be the most successful in building the workforce of the future. According to Mercer’s latest research, Thriving in an Age of Disruption, which surveyed more than 800 participants in 57 countries across 26 industries, only 52 per cent of respondents said their organisations were committed to creating an environment where employees are able to thrive.

Thriving organisations need to be planned, designed and built. They create an atmosphere that enriches the lives of their workforce through experiences and empowers them to contribute. As automation – driven by AI, robotics and machine learning – takes over existing jobs that are traditionally considered as monotonous, repetitive and low-skilled; companies must develop people strategies that reskill and upskill their workforce and facilitate a transition that returns a sense of purpose to people’s lives.

Growth and development drives happiness and purpose

It is extremely prescient of the UAE to be the first country in the world to announce a Minister for Happiness and emphasise the importance of happiness as a key pillar of the country’s national agenda. Thriving in the age of disruption requires all stakeholders to be invested in a successful transition into the future workforce. In the UAE, the government is leading by example.

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Exceptional organisations transform work into a compelling experience that meets all employees’ needs and unlocks their full potential. Only two in five employees polled believe their company has a compelling and differentiated value proposition. For those employers already engaged on this journey to become a thriving organisation, headline results show that growth and development are what matter most, followed closely by fair access to opportunities and equity in pay. Notably, Mercer’s research finds that employees who are energised and bring their authentic selves to work are 45 per cent more invested in their role.

Motivate the workforce with experiential, emotional and contractual rewards

The research shows that a trusting work environment, a feeling of personal accomplishment, faith in senior leadership, clarity around career paths and a strategy that is responsive to external market shifts and societal needs explain 79 per cent of employee confidence in the company they work for. Employees stay engaged and invested in an organisation that creates staying power through a unique proposition that offers purpose and belonging and creates a diffrentiated experience that supports career growth and personal well-being, in addition to a fair contractual arrangement.

The Mercer Thrive report suggests four critical priorities to help companies accelerate their performance and enable them to transition into the future workforce:

1. Craft a future-focused people strategy: organisations need to approach their people strategy with as much dedication as they approach their innovation and digital strategies. Thriving organisations treat their workforce as an asset in which to invest – not simply a business cost.

2. Curate a compelling employee value proposition: People want jobs that work for them. They want tools to manage work and life in a way that is personalised, flexible and unique to their own interests and aspirations.

3. Create a thriving work environment: Individuals thrive when work is challenging and purposeful, when they feel empowered to make decisions and when they are connected to colleagues and experts.

4. Cultivate a lab mindset: To stay ahead in changing times, cultivate a mindset that encourages experimentation, design thinking, innovation, balanced risk-taking and a climate of continuous learning.

Regardless of the size of an organisation, the case for companies to embark on a shift to a sustainable, thriving work culture is compelling. Organisations that are agile and foster a purpose-driven culture are more likely to post annual revenue growth and attract the right talent, who will want to join, stay and deliver their best.

Nuno Gomes is the head of careers for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey at Mercer

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