Defining the Future of Work Amid Recovery
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a conversation with the hosts of WorldatWork’s “Work
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.
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
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
“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
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
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
“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.
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.