Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends investigates the world of work annually, drawing on a global survey of 10,000 business leaders in all industries. The 2023 edition of the report, available now, finds that the way we view work is changing radically.
Organisations are entering a new landscape in which they must experiment and innovate to define new ways of working. Purpose has become essential to them. They are seeking to create an impact not only for their business, their workers, and their shareholders, but for broader society as well.
Workers are interacting with organisations in a different way, facilitating greater and more meaningful co-creation. In terms of intra company global moves, there is an emerging global workforce built by remote workers, business travellers, new types of assignments.
A new brand of leadership is required to interact with workers and prosper in the new landscape.
Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends finds that the way we view work is changing. Our assumptions that work is fixed and repeatable, readily organised into discrete tasks, and grouped into well-defined jobs no longer hold. Efforts to transform work have focused on cost and productivity — how to deliver the same outcomes faster and more efficiently. This traditional view of jobs is now being disrupted.
Organisations are entering a new landscape in which they must experiment and innovate to define new ways of working. For workers the rules of engagement with organisations are shifting, opening the way to greater and more meaningful collaboration and co-creation with the organisation in a world without boundaries. The tension between workers who want and need more flexibility and organizations that are tied to mandatory and complex compliance requirements in terms of immigration, social security, payroll and tax, makes it extremely difficult for leadership to navigate these uncharted waters.
Thinking like a researcher to reimagine roles
Our survey data shows that 59% of respondents expect to focus on reimagination of roles in the next 2–4 years, a twofold increase from the pre-pandemic level. Three of the trends in this report exemplify the need for organisations and workers to think like a researcher.
- Navigating the end of jobs. The boundaries that delineated jobs, grouping tasks and categorising workers into narrow roles and responsibilities, are now limiting innovation and agility. Many organisations are experimenting with using skills, not jobs, as the baseline for how workforce decisions are made. When unboxed from jobs, workers have the opportunity to better utilise their capabilities, experiences, and interests in ways that advance organisational and worker outcomes.
- Powering human impact with technology. The boundary between humans and technology as separate forces continues to be eroded as new technologies enter the workplace. New technologies can also be a stepping stone for companies to address global data issues, to support them in making internal global mobility strategic decisions or enabling them limiting reputational risk via the possibility of cross country reporting of data.
- Activating the future of the workplace. Advances in digital and virtual technology and the emerging role of the metaverse are redefining the concept of the workplace as a physical space. Now, greater interconnectedness gives organisations a unique opportunity to experiment with not where, but how work should be done.
Co-creating the new world of work
To be successful, organisations and workers will need to learn to navigate this new world together, co-creating new rules, boundaries, and relationships. The survey found that organisations with higher worker involvement in designing and implementing organisational change were more likely to experience positive outcomes. Those that said they co-create with their workers said they were 1.8x more likely to have a highly engaged workforce, 2x more likely to be innovative, and 1.6x more likely than their peers to anticipate and respond to change effectively.
Organisations and workers must co-create their relationship in three ways:
- Negotiating worker data. The boundary between the organisation’s and the worker’s ownership rights — worker-owned or organisation-owned data—is becoming irrelevant. The discussion relates to what is workforce data, the transparency of that data, and the mutual benefits of data-driven insights.
- Harnessing worker agency. Traditional ideas of work, the workforce, and workplace models that assume organisations have sole decision-making authority are fading as workers demand more meaningful work, flexible workplace models, and more personalised career paths.
- Unlocking the workforce ecosystem. The value of fostering diverse workforce ecosystems is enormous, but many organisations are failing to give workers of all types (freelancers, contractors, employees, etc.) any say in where, how, and for whom they work. Organisations that adapt their strategies and practices to fit today’s far more complex talent pool will gain access to skills and experience that help accelerate growth, innovation, and agility.
These new ownership models require a big shift and organisations are mostly not ready for it. According to our survey, only 19% of organisations said they’re very ready for data ownership, 17% for worker agency, and 16% for workforce ecosystems.
Prioritising human outcomes
The final fundamental for a world without boundaries relies on collective aspirations. Organisations should create impact not only for their business, their workers, or their shareholders, but for broader society as well.
In the survey more than 80% of organisations reported purpose; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); sustainability; and trust as top focus areas.
Organisations and workers are prioritising human outcomes in three ways.
- Taking bold action for equitable outcomes. The idea of diversity as a metric is dissolving as organisations look at DEI as an outcome instead: equity in how organisations access talent; enable talent through development programmes, methods, and tools; and advance and promote talent at all levels of the organisation.
- Organisations are facing mounting pressure to address sustainability issues from governments, global coalitions, their communities and their workforce. Organisations must focus on the human element, largely absent in their strategies and actions to date, by ‘hardwiring’ sustainability into the workforce and work itself.
- Elevating the focus on human risk. Organisations have traditionally thought of human risks through a narrow lens – the potential risks that workers pose to the business. In the new world, organisations should expand their view of human risk beyond compliance and reporting to consider how a broad set of risks are significantly affecting, and significantly being affected by, humans.
New leadership needed
New leadership capabilities are needed at all levels of the organisation to mobilise workers and teams to achieve in the new world without boundaries. Yet only 23% of organisations in the Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their leaders have the capabilities to navigate this disrupted world. They point to concerns about leaders’ ability to manage the evolving workforce, with less than 15% saying their leaders are very ready to inclusively lead an expanding workforce or to consider broader societal and environmental risks when making decisions. They also express concerns about the design and execution of work itself. Only 16% say their leaders are very ready to use technology to improve work outcomes and team performance, and only 18% say their leaders are very ready to develop the right workplace model for their organisation.
A new brand of leadership will be required that:
- Uses experimentation to inform better solutions, foster learning, and accelerate value.
- Cultivates deep and intimate relationships with workers across the ecosystem through co-creation.
- Widens the aperture of decision-making to understand its full impact with the human agenda in mind.
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