More investment required to reinvent workforce

A new Deloitte study found that only 16% of business leaders expect to significantly increase investment in the continual reinvention of the workforce over the next three years.
By: | May 20, 2020

While companies have made significant technology investments over the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a lack of investment in helping workers adapt to and embrace new ways of working.

Surveying approximately 55,000 business leaders over a decade, Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward, found that organisations generally recognise the importance of reskilling.

53% of respondents indicated that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. However, only 16% of business leaders expect to make a significant investment increase in the continual reinvention of the workforce over the next three years.

Although organisations are trying a variety of strategies to future-proof their workforce, 68% of respondents say their organisations are currently making only moderate investments in reskilling or no investment at all.

32% of respondents identified lack of investment as the greatest barrier to workforce development in their organisation, with only 17% of respondents expressing confidence “to a great extent” that their organisations can anticipate the skills their organisations will need in three years.

An overwhelming number of respondents (96%) also now see well-being as being an organisational responsibility. With well-being extending beyond physical health to employees feeling a sense of purpose and belonging, 63% of respondents said creating a sense of belonging supports organisational performance by enhancing alignment between individual and organisational objectives.

Workers are also likely to embrace technologies in the future of work, with 60% of respondents saying their organisations are using AI to assist, rather than to replace, workers. 66% of respondents also believe that the number of jobs would either stay the same or increase as a result of AI’s use in the next three years.

Leaders, however, need to do more to address ethical concerns related to the future of work, including the maintenance of privacy, control of workers’ data, and the treatment of alternative workers.

27% of respondents say their organisations have clear policies and leaders in place to manage ethics in the context of the future of work, though 73% of respondents are either not addressing it, have only started to develop their approach, or are dealing with it on an ad hoc basis.

In South-east Asia, the workforce has adapted well to the changes in work arrangements and have remained productive. This has been helped by the region having a young workforce with a heavy millennial presence in the workplace.

This creates a high number of social media naturals, who are tech savvy and are attracted to and can adjust quickly to remote working and human-tech interactions, said Indranil Roy, executive director, Human Capital Consulting, Deloitte South-east Asia.

He added that purpose and belonging will remain at the core for South-east Asian workers, as cultures across the region place emphasis on deep relationships and human interactions, both in and out of the workplace.

“This being said, while talent in South-east Asia demands a focus on well-being as ‘table stakes’ to join and stay in an organisation, they often take this into their own hands and many organisations in the region continue to struggle to meet expectations in this area,” Roy concluded.