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WORKSPAN
WORKSPAN DAILY |

Defining the Future of Work Amid Recovery


artisteer / iStock

In a conversation with the hosts of WorldatWork’s “Work in Progress” podcast, Aon partner Brooke Green discussed what buzzwords like future of work and digital transformation actually mean as organizations reshape their future following COVID-19 recovery.  

For people involved in managing human capital, the COVID-19 pandemic provided a preview of the future of work. In short, it’s not what people thought it would be, said Aon partner and employee rewards leader Brooke Green.

“Some people fixated on predicting new skills and what the future of work holds. In the past year, we learned we can’t predict it,” Green said. “Change is coming and we can’t always know what it looks like.”

So, what should organizations do to navigate this high level of uncertainty? Green said the way forward is to develop a human capital strategy that supports an agile and resilient workforce.

“Let’s find people that can flex and adapt, obviously with some requisite skills,” said Green.

The future of work and other buzz-worthy terms in the HR and business community were the subject of a recent conversation between Green and the hosts of WorldatWork podcast, Work in Progress, Tom Alexander and Charles Epstein. (Listen to the full episode here).

Another buzzword that has entered everyday vernacular is digital transformation. “When you say digital transformation, what does it really mean?” Alexander asked.

Green noted that first you have to define digital disruption, which is the business threat caused by the blurring of boundaries between industry lines. As more human activity goes digital, businesses increasingly run the risk of being disrupted by competitors or products they did not see coming. Digital transformation is the cure. Companies implement digital transformation strategies to address disruptive threats caused by the wider force of industries converging.

“This isn’t just about technology expertise and tools,” Green said. “It’s really about the competencies people need to be ready to change. Organizational agility describes a company’s ability to quickly respond to changing customer needs and make swift decisions to invest quickly in high ROI ideas.”

For example, Aon’s digital readiness model helps organizations identify and reinforce characteristics among their employees that help create an agile and resilient workforce. These include willingness to learn, openness to change and capability to adapt to new situations.

Companies need to involve a variety of stakeholders in their plans to reskill and upskill the workforce, as well as develop a hiring and rewards strategy to support digital transformation.

“Don’t assume just technology experts should have a seat at the table,” Green said. “Solutions need to be fundamentally human centered.”

Amid COVID-19 recovery, there is another buzzword that is getting a makeover — employee value proposition (EVP). According to Green, EVP no longer encompasses the value people want from doing their job. “What we’re really trying to get at when we use EVP is what gets people excited and motivates them,” said Green. To do that, employers should shift their thinking from a value perspective to an experience perspective.

“The employee experience is going to be different going forward. Some people are going to be in the office and some people are not,” Green said. “So, we need an employee experience that is good for everybody but acknowledges people are at different entry points.”

Green believes the way to do this is through creating a culture of empathy and listening, ensuring employees’ voices and preferences are being heard and reflected into policies.

Next Steps
There are a lot of tactical but important human capital decisions tied to these terms — from reimagining rewards to performance management. And remote and hybrid working models are influencing these different decisions.

Organizations will be well-served to define what these buzzwords actually mean for them today. It’s why 85% of nearly 1,500 companies Aon recently surveyed said they have created, or plan to create in the next six months, a clear definition of what the future of work means to them. Each of these terms will heavily influence how a company approaches human capital management and people-related risks, which ultimately drives business performance.


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