March 27, 2020
A new study by Mercer claims the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent uncertainty are accelerating changes in the way organisations around the world are working and will continue to work into the future. Particularly in challenging times, employers are focusing on their workforce, specifically fostering healthy lifestyles, supporting financial wellness and providing skills and training as careers change due to AI and technology developments.
The reasoning is clear claims Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends study, 34 percent of employees expect their jobs to be replaced in three years, 61 percent of employees believe their employers are preparing them for the future of work and 55 percent trust their organisation to reskill them if their job changes as a result of automation.
Focus on Futures
According to the report, 85 percent of executives say that their organisation’s purpose should extend beyond shareholder primacy, yet only 35 percent of companies deliver on this today.
Work together to ensure people thrive now and in the future.
Meanwhile, one in three employees say they would prefer to work for an employer that shows responsibility towards all stakeholders. The report claims that much of an organisation’s success depends on whether it can support its talent to grow and shape a sustainable business. Around 68 percent of respondents want to focus more on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. While 61 percent of employees trust their employer to prepare them for the future of work, 63 percent feel at risk of burnout.
Career pipelines have tightened as 72 percent of experienced workers say they plan to work past retirement age, and 55 percent of Gen Xers say opportunities to advance are limited because of longevity in the workplace. Better management of older workers is part of creating shared value. More than three-quarters of employees want long-term financial planning, yet just 23 percent of companies say they provide financial education for employees today.
In most regions, employees’ most valued career support is personal and professional growth opportunities. In Asia, knowing what skills will become important or obsolete in the future tops the list, while in Africa employees value managers who can have useful career conversations no matter their life stage. The UK is aligned to the global trend in that 70 percent of employees feel that their company gives them the space to learn and grow, both professionally and personally.
Race to Reskill
According to the report, reskilling is the talent investment most capable of driving business success, and 99 percent of all organisations say they are embarking on transformation and report significant skill gaps. Workforce capability and lack of future skills was the top reason transformations failed. Although 78 percent of employees globally say they are ready to learn new skills, 38 percent claim they do not have enough time for training. Moreover, just 34 percent of HR leaders are investing in workforce learning and reskilling as part of their strategy to prepare for the future of work and 40 percent do not know what skills their workforce has today.
Across regions, employees say innovation will be the top in-demand skill in the next 12 months. HR leaders in North America and Latin America agree with their employees. The United Kingdom follows this trend, with employees and HR leaders agreeing that innovation is a top priority. Elsewhere, however, HR leaders put digital marketing (Africa, Europe, Middle East, Pacific) and data visualisation at the top (Asia).
Sense with science
Use of predictive analytics has nearly quadrupled in five years. Yet, only 43 percent of organisations use metrics to identify employees likely to leave, 41 percent know when critical talent is likely to retire, 18 percent know the impact of pay strategies on performance, 15 percent can determine if it is better to buy/build/borrow employees and 12 percent are using analytics to correct inequities and prevent them recurring.
Humans outpace machines at sense-checking and judgement.
Other forms of employee engagement data gathering are on the rise too; 62 percent of companies are using pulse surveys today, and 33 percent plan to invest in this in 2020. While machines outperform humans at tasks related to scale and speed, humans outpace machines at sense-checking and judgement, which are critical elements of ethical decision-making.
Yet while 67 percent of HR leaders are confident they can ensure AI is not institutionalising bias, ethics codes about the collection, application and implications of people analytics are still in their infancy. Talent assessment is equally an area where human intuition is needed along with the digital assessments – today only one in two employees had a positive assessment experience and found it useful.
Across regions, disconnects exist between the analytics the C-suite prioritises and those HR leaders provide. In the Pacific, 53 percent of HR leaders provide analytics on the C-suite’s second top priority as to why one team is high performing and another struggles. Yet, only 39 percent are providing analytics on the top priority around key drivers of engagement. In mature markets, like the United Kingdom, only 49 percent are using analytics to identify the key drivers of pay inequities – the C-suite’s top priority.
Energise the experience
Delivering on the employee experience is HR’s top priority, and 58 percent of organisations are redesigning to become more people-centric. Yet, only 27 percent of executives believe employee experience will yield a business return. And, even though 61 percent of employees trust their employer to look after their well-being and 48 percent of executives rank it as a top workforce concern, only 29 percent of HR leaders have a health and well-being strategy.
Image by Ernesto Eslava