COVID-19: A 'wake-up call' to rethink business priorities

The crisis has revealed a failure to invest in developing adaptable workers

COVID-19: A 'wake-up call' to rethink business priorities

The COVID-19 crisis has proven that while organisations have doubled down on investments in technology over the past decade, many have significantly underinvested in how humans could adapt to and embrace new ways of working.

The crisis has pushed organisations to take immediate action, including a sudden shift to remote work and the implementation of new ways of working, according to Deloitte.

However, leaders are not paying enough attention to the bigger picture: sustaining current strategies to embed them into their organisational culture and develop a future-ready workforce.

Conducting one of the most comprehensive human capital trends studies, Deloitte surveyed approximately 55,000 business leaders over 10 years to find ways to ensure human workers remain adaptable in a constantly changing tech landscape.

READ MORE: Remote work: Technology gaps revealed amid COVID-19

The study found that while three in four leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, only 45% are rewarding workers for developing new skills.

Findings also showed that only 17% of leaders are making significant investments in reskilling employees to support their AI strategy.

And at a time when workforce shifts are happening at warp speed, only 1 in 10 respondents are tracking progress in real time.

The report noted that as technical skills become outdated quite quickly in today’s fast-changing environment, it’s critical to use forward-looking workforce metrics to gain insights into the reskilling of workers.

Yet organisations are least likely to collect workforce metrics in several critical areas, including

the ‘status of reskilling’, with only 14% of respondents collecting analytics in this area.

Leaders do recognise the importance of reskilling, with half (53%) of respondents expecting their workforce to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years.

Despite this, only 16% of business leaders are planning 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 report their organisations are currently making only moderate investments in reskilling or no investment at all.

A third (32%) of leaders 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.

READ MORE: How the Covid-19 outbreak ushered in a new way of working

“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce,” said Erica Volini, principal and global human capital leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“While technology provides a tremendous platform for reinvention, organisations need to realise that reinventing work is about building a culture where humans can thrive by creating meaning in work, as well as developing a new level of resilience and adaptability to handle disruptive events.

“This extraordinary time is when organisations should identify and invest in workers’ capabilities, develop new team structures, and evaluate how to best leverage the alternative workforce.

“If organisations don’t figure out how to capitalise on humans’ ability at work, they will not only sub-optimise the potential that technology creates, but hamper the reinvention required to thrive in the context of this pandemic and beyond.”

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