Executives See Change Coming, But Face It The Old Fashioned Way

Hesitant Executive

Déjà vu all over again: Corporate leaders recognize that their workforces are changing dramatically, but they’re dithering when it comes to preparing for the future those changes will bring.

According to Ceridian’s 2020 Future of Work Report, nearly 75 percent of decision-makers are worried about the health of their industry over the next two years. During that same time period, 60 percent believe their organizations will experience a skills gap. And most believe that skills gap is among the biggest challenges they face.

Déjà vu all over again: Corporate leaders recognize workforce change is coming, but dither when it comes to preparing for it. @Ceridian #HR #HRTech #FutureofWork Share on X

But concerned as they may be, executives are generally satisfied with their approach to reskilling. That means they may be overlooking important strategies to address how the workforce’s future needs. For example, they’re not partnering with schools and universities. Decision-makers “are aware that the nature of work will change, but they’re not necessarily seeing the bigger picture, and are only taking incremental, if any, action,” the report said.

In addition, most corporate leaders look at technological change defensively: They worry about its ability to disrupt rather than its potential to improve operations and performance. When it comes to transformation, the report said, “some companies don’t know where to start, leaving them with the issues that arise from aging and disparate, legacy systems.”

Preparing (Slowly) for the Future of Work

In other words, the human factor is slowing advanced technology’s adoption. Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, told Ceridian that business leaders simply must face down existing organizational mindsets if they’re going to enable technological adoption and innovation.

“Tech development is a struggle, but also an opportunity. It’s unfortunate that it’s perceived as negative because it’s also an enabler,” he said. “Technology improvements and advances fuel productivity and wealth. Rapid tech deployment is an awesome opportunity.”

To be fair, executives face rapid change in a variety of areas. Among their top three pressing concerns was increasingly complex regulation and compliance, cited by 55 percent of the respondents. That was followed by rapid technology development and a shortage of skilled talent, each identified by 50 percent. Employee engagement was placed in the top three by 37 percent.

And executives are split over how technology will impact the workforce’s size. While 46 percent believe it will increase their headcount, 33 percent believe it will decrease it and 21 percent believe their workforce’s size will remain about the same. At the same time, about half said they’d significantly increase the proportion of contingent workers they hire.

That makes rethinking it all the more important that organizations rethink their approach to both HCM and operations technology, Ceridian said. Companies will have to manage collaboration between teams made up of different types of workers in different locations, for example. To do that, they’ll need AI tools that can predict when gig workers might be needed, in addition to solutions that can source, manage and pay those workers once they’re engaged.

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