2020 vision: Five key things HR should do for future change

When preparing a business for future disruption, what should HR consider to completely understand the changes that are coming?

“There’s a lot of sensationalism when talking about future workplaces. For instance, robots are going to steal our jobs tomorrow, Skynet’s going to take over the world. Skynet is not going to do that. The world will be fine, so you can rest easy.”
Despite this, Jeremy Blain, regional managing director of Cegos Asia Pacific, admitted there were still a lot of myths about what workplaces will look like in 2020. To uncover the truth, he talked about a survey conducted by Cegos which revealed five key drivers for change.
“We identified these five key drivers by customer conversations that we’d had up front and worked with industry experts to find the macro drivers that we really need to understand.”
The survey collected responses from over 1,500 senior business, HR, and learning professionals and revealed the following key issues with each driver.
The impact of technology
“We absolutely need to upskill our leaders and managers with the right technologies to help them be more collaborative and have more peer connectivity for the future,” Blain said.
Employers should also understand about external technologies that are going to help businesses remain competitive in a changing market.
“We’ve potentially got not just our traditional competitors but also disruptors coming into the market. Think Uber and Airbnb,” he said. “Between them Uber don’t own one taxi; Airbnb don’t own a single property; and yet they’re competing against hotel chains, taxi firms, etc.”
For traditional brick-and-mortar businesses which are unprepared, these types of changes can have very serious ramifications.
The challenges of a cross-generational workforce
While there is a perception that businesses have to deal with cross-generational challenges, this is far from the truth, said Blain.
“Actually we’re doing a pretty good job on this. There is too much in the press about Gen Y this and ageing population that,” he said. “Instead people need to be managed; we need to be more collaborative. Whatever the generation, whatever the culture, we need to work together.”
For the newer generations entering the workplace however, he noted that employers still needed a better approach to learning and development.
“We’re still doing things largely in a traditional way and those people don’t learn like that. They’re used to more informal learning,” he said.
Increasing diversity
In this area, the survey showed that managers and leaders, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region, are not comfortable when dealing with diversity and bias.
“We’re acknowledging it as a huge need. It will probably be a bubbling, challenging issue in the next ten years because of the seeming immobilisation of it.”
While workplaces are shifting, managers and leaders can tend to be stuck in their old ways. This can lead to a perfect storm where businesses fail to properly adapt to future change.
The future of work infrastructure
“There’s a strong belief that working hours in the future will be flexible, work will be in short bursts – often remote – and there’ll be more independence,” Blain said. “This may or may not lead to more work-life balance.”
He stressed the need for employers to upskill their leaders and managers so they can survive in an environment where the workforce may not be permanent and traditional offices may even be a thing of the past.
Leader/Manager readiness
“This is fundamentally looking at how we’re gluing together the organisation and how we’re using the appropriate technologies to lead and manage,” he said.
This includes preparing Generation Y for stepping into first line leadership and giving Generation X the skills to become the confident leaders that businesses think they can be.
“The people answering our survey felt that Generation X were absolutely the right generation for leadership because of their relationships up and down the generational ladder,” he said.
However, Blain added that Generation X was in fact the least confident demographic when it comes to leadership.
“They don’t really know and aren’t aware of the new knowledge, skills, behaviours that they’re really going to need because organisations aren’t largely focusing on that,” he said.
Related stories:
Are your managers ready for the “perfect storm”?
Future-proof your workforce
Three critical skills needed to survive HR disruption

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