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Building The Workforce For The Future

Forward-looking executives and organizations recognize that the future will be digital, and planning for a digital workforce needs to be a top priority. Developing a sustainable talent pipeline is critical now more than ever. Increasing digitization has led to an influx of new jobs and a corresponding demand for new skills — even as changing demographics exacerbate an ever-decreasing talent supply. At the same time, the “gig” economy has led to new avenues to talent. As a result, businesses are facing uncertainty both in how to source the skills they need and in how they engage multiple types of talent. Working to address future skills needs and talent instability can help leaders prepare now to operate efficiently tomorrow.

While there are some predictions that hundreds of millions of jobs will be lost to automation, the digital revolution will also pave the way to new opportunities.

Talent can be redeployed to more interesting, higher-level relational positions via upskilling and continuous education.

As companies transform their business models and strategies to realize the opportunities of the digital revolution, they are challenged with defining their workforce of the future.

In the past, a sequential approach dominated, characterized by the divergence between business targets and workforce strategies. Many times, vendors develop products designed to help business and sell them through negotiations with chief technology officers (with neither side at times fully understanding the other). Managers then struggle to integrate the new technology with their workforce to achieve business objectives, in part because the business has failed to think about how a workforce should be transformed in the face of digital disruption. Moving from a sequential workforce strategy development process to a circular integrated process that takes into account workforce strategies from the beginning and onwards will become the norm.

To define and manage the workforce for the future, three inter-related dimensions must be identified:

  1. What skillsare required?
  2. What sizeof the workforce is needed?
  3. What shapeshould it take?

Rather than managing only the internal workforce, the best companies will establish and manage an extended talent ecosystem, comprising multiple talent pools and spanning multiple generations. In fact, many companies are already experimenting with new work models.

Ultimately, a business must understand the needs of its customers and keep that knowledge at the forefront as it addresses the future of work. Changing lifestyles will demand different solutions. The savviest of organizations recognize that technology is not so much driving the change as it is responding to it and helping to facilitate it.

Building a talent pipeline in this new environment calls for a fundamental change in perspective.

Mercer is uniquely positioned to help you build your future workforce. Contact us today to find out how we can help.