According to Deloitte Global’s third annual survey, which explored the influence of Industry 4.0, the application of digital technology, machine learning and real-time data at the workplace, 46% of C-suite executives revealed they lacked the knowledge required for a future workforce. Only one-fifth of executives found their organisation ready, while 10% reported making good progress in bringing in the right talent to future-proof the company.
This points to the need for business leaders to invest in workforce planning strategies to keep it relevant against the volatile economy. Understanding the needs of their manpower vis-a-vis expectations of the future will allow organisations to build greater workforce resilience.
What are some of these strategies?
1. Leverage new technologies
The aforementioned Deloitte survey also sheds an unforgiving light on the anxieties executives have about the skills gap. These stem from the organisation’s technological incompetence. By leveraging and implementing technologies across operations, businesses can look towards long-term growth rather than short-term gains. Acquiring fluency in a range of applicable technologies, such as cloud computing and robotic process automation will be instrumental for this.
Moreover, operations-intensive industries like manufacturing, retail and finance have 1.3 times more automation potential. Manufacturers, for instance, can consider digital manufacturing tools like cloud computing and autonomous robots to streamline operations and create more bandwidth for employees to focus on other growth areas. Financial institutions can also explore opportunities in artificial intelligence and quantum computing to strengthen research, allowing them to provide more value-added services to customers.
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2. Invest in experienced employees
The advent of automation and its corresponding technologies mean the future skills profiles will see a shift. Upgrading employees’ skillsets will allow them to continue gaining access to employment within the organisation, necessary for the company to stay afloat, especially in the face of a talent crunch.
A key aspect of workforce planning, therefore, entails converting experienced long-term employees into the organisations’ drivers of the future. By applying their intricate industry knowledge to new modes of delivery, these employees can lend greater expertise to the application of new technologies in their work domains. What can these organisations expect? Greater efficiency and higher revenue margins.
3. Actively train fresh hires
While investing in experienced employees is one way organisations can maintain resilience in their present workforce, it is also critical for them to set their eyes on talents they can groom.
An increasingly technological world will make the competition for talent across sectors intense, especially when recruiters headhunt for professionals that fit the requirements to the tee. While this is a winning strategy, not all organisations can secure for themselves ideal candidates for the roles.
On the other hand, new graduates or mid-career professionals occupying the job market can be valuable assets that, once groomed, will effectively deliver. Investing in training for such fresh hires is one area organisations can consider when planning a workforce for tomorrow. By creating a conducive space for new employees to learn on the job, organisations can mould them towards company goals, building greater resilience amid a challenging talent market.
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4. Support mental health at work
A resilient workforce is also one that is mentally strong in fighting adversities. Workplace changes experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example. Being a leader in such times is about ensuring safety nets are in place and demonstrating empathy towards employees on the ground. Frustration is often a result of workplace inadequacies and lack of employee concerns. For organisations to keep their workforce tight and strong during existing crises and beyond, leaders must care for them, not just financially but also mentally. This requires effective employee wellness and engagement activities, so that leaders can gain their trust and retain them within the organisation.
5. Be open to adapt
Being a leader also entails a level of adaptability. Understanding the changing demands of the economy and correspondingly that of employees means leaders must transform to better address the issues at hand. Top-down approaches, for instance, no longer sit well with companies whose employees prefer a people’s leader, while an interim modus operandi to set processes in place may require some level of authoritativeness. Building resilience starts with you — make decisions with the future in mind.