The world of work is not going to change – it already has changed, and continues doing so at an increasingly fast pace. Indeed, it’s worth keeping in mind that 65% of children entering school today will end up in jobs that do not exist yet!

Every job is subject to change. We’re seeing the evolution of work that can’t be described as “jobs” in the traditional sense; rather, people are performing tasks for clients who don’t want to contract with a firm or hire a permanent employee.

Interim labour – the new face of the workforce

A US-based client recently told us 30% of her workforce is made up of interim labour, while other firms are using talent platforms to hire independent workers. When 30% of your workforce is not on your payroll and the skills and expertise you need  is no longer hired and managed in-house, it stands to reason that traditional HR models and tools require an update.

Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics will cause jobs to “disappear” – potentially 47% of them, as suggested by some (Carl Frey/Michael Osborne & MIT – 2013).  Organising and fulfilling whatever “human” work is left (plus the work we can’t imagine yet) will, however, require a different organisation, management and reward paradigm and address the changing expectations of people joining the workforce today.

Our traditional model needs to be partly replaced, or at the very least complemented by a plethora of options to get work done: interim resources, talent platforms, outsourcing, alliances between companies, volunteers, and finally, robotics and artificial intelligence.

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Lead the work (don’t just organise the jobs)

More than ever HR will need to understand:

  • The organisation’s business strategy and the role of technology in it
  • The cultural attributes and organisational capabilities that really make a difference for competitive advantage
  • The work landscape and the prioritised gaps that must be closed.

Armed with that information, HR can then drive the creation of a tailored work (not just role) architecture and categorisation, which in turn supports a qualitative work analysis and design, focusing on closing work and talent gaps.

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HR has a key role in supporting companies as they gradually move from a collection of people doing jobs to an entity that organises work – and the talent (whatever and wherever that may be) that completes it.

The questions to ask

HR will be required to analyse the assignment, asking by whom, where, and how the work is best done. There is a need to look at the positioning and culture of the organisation – how standalone, rigid, collaborative do we want to be or can be – and how that will create a new work model with myriad employment types – and supporting rewards.

Such a diverse “workforce” requires a tailored and segmented approach to talent acquisition, onboarding, performance management, knowledge management, learning and development, rewards… and a new Worker Value Proposition, complementing or replacing the current Employee Value Proposition.



Willis Towers Watson Media 

Russell Huntington

Senior Consultant, Rewards