A real chance to shape the future of work

A real chance to shape the future of work

Not every leader can say that they helped to shape the future of work. But when those occupying senior positions today finally retire they can potentially look back on how and if their actions have transformed workplaces and how people do things differently.

What will one day be history should currently be high on the agenda for today’s leadership teams. Indeed, the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the arrival of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics present huge opportunities for leaders to make their mark. So how ready are you to play your part in what could be seismic changes in the world of work?

The Economist Intelligence Unit, in partnership with Swiss technology and automation group ABB, this week introduced the Automation Readiness Index, a global ranking for robotics and AI. It found that South Korea, Germany and Singapore are the world’s top ranked nations (in that order) in their preparations for smoothly integrating intelligent automation into their economies. The UK is positioned at eight, ahead of the US and Australia but behind Japan, Canada, Estonia and France.

Rankings were determined based on 52 qualitative and quantitative indicators selected in consultation with experts in automation, education and economics. It found, though, that even in the best-prepared countries, there is a need for more effective education policies and training programmes and, significantly, a new emphasis needs to be placed on continual learning over the course of a career. It also highlights the new “more human-oriented” jobs that will be needed as robots and algorithms take care of the routine tasks.

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Announcing the automation readiness index, the partners said that “ideally”, a successful transition to a manufacturing economy built around intelligent automation will provide “human talent with the opportunity to achieve higher levels of productivity and, ultimately, more rewarding jobs”.

The major changes ahead are also underlined in Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age, which found that an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of UK companies have innovation on their core agenda this year while 92 per cent are planning organisational design changes. Ilya Bonic, president of the professional services company’s career business, reckons there was “palpable excitement” from executives about shifting to the new world of work. “They are pursuing an agenda of continuous evolution – rather than episodic transformation – to remain competitive,” he explains. “They recognise that it’s the combination of human skills plus advanced digital technology that will drive their business forward.”

In pursuit of new technologies, executives must focus on the “human operating system” to power their organisations, Mercer stresses. The study identified five workforce trends for 2018: change@speed; working with purpose; permanent flexibility; platform for talent; and digital from the inside out. Under the change@speed trend, the survey revealed that two-thirds (65 per cent) of executives predict at least one in five roles in their organisation will cease to exist in the next five years.

It is a scary but at the same time exciting prospect and the changes required represent one of the biggest challenges leaders have faced perhaps in generations. As well as focusing on the skills and training programmes that employees require for the future of work, leaders must also take a hard look at themselves and assess whether they, too, need to invest in their own professional development.

At Rialto, we are determined to help leaders assess their fit and capability for the new world of work with the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI), which is designed to provide an indicator of the capabilities and experience leaders require to succeed as a transformational leader in the future of work world. For Rialto, leadership and business success comes from alignment of the two: are leaders equipped with the capabilities and skills to fulfil the organisation’s goals today as well as in the future? That alignment is increasingly important in the preparing for the digital age because of the complexities that exist and scale of change taking place.

Leaders have a huge responsibility to help shape the future of work for the betterment of employees and society. Are you fully prepared to take your place in history?

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