Authors

Carole Hathaway

Carole Hathaway

Director

Willis Towers Watson

Alison Maitland

Alison Maitland

Senior Fellow

Cass Business School




Employers have a huge challenge ahead to keep up with the rapid changes happening in the workforce and in wider society. In this two-part article Carole Hathaway and Alison Maitland explore what is changing and how employers can respond.

In the first section of this article, Alison Maitland describes the series of powerful forces that are driving a work revolution. As an author, adviser and coach specialising in the fast-changing world of work, and a visiting senior fellow at Cass Business School, Alison describes how employers have a huge challenge ahead to keep up with the rapid changes happening in the workforce and in wider society.

In the second part of this article, Carole Hathaway, Willis Towers Watson’s Global Practice Leader for Reward, explains why she believes the future of work is already here. Carole believes that with the world changing at such a rapid pace, it requires us to take a long, hard look at how we deliver total reward.

RESPONDING TO CHANGE, BY ALISON MAITLAND

WHAT’S CHANGING?

Change is happening incredibly fast. It took 89 years for the telephone to reach 150 million people. But in the last decade alone, the number of internet users has more than doubled to 3.8 billion people.

In the digital age, technology and the advent of smart machines are disrupting the world of work. It is now easy to work anywhere and anytime. But do we control technology or does it control us?

The rise of artificial intelligence generates hope and fear in equal measure. Machines can outperform humans in diagnosing some diseases, for example. However, people fear whether technology will make their jobs redundant in the future. We need to re-focus on reskilling people and on helping them to prepare for the future.

Global competition and disruption are forcing businesses around the world to become more nimble, cut costs and increase productivity
 

Global competition and disruption are forcing businesses around the world to become more nimble, cut costs and increase productivity.

Climate change is forcing companies to focus on their carbon footprint. Millennials are making companies step up a gear on this issue, with their concerns about the environment sometimes driving their choice of employer.

The changing workforce

There are also big changes to the people who make up the workforce and their motivations. Women graduates now outnumber men across much of the world, with the corollary effect that men are playing a greater role in family life. To accommodate this change and allow both women and men to reach their full potential, employers need to start thinking more flexibly.

A lot of organisations are focusing on more flexible and cost-effective workplaces and encouraging their people to work in more agile ways
 

A lot of organisations are focusing on more flexible and cost-effective workplaces and encouraging their people to work in more agile ways.

In addition, improving life expectancy means that people are working for longer. Could the end of the concept of retirement be upon us? There are sharp increases in the number of people working past the age of 70, challenging employers to respond to changing dynamics in the workforce. A quarter of people who retire return to work within five years. Money plays a part but often retirees find they still have energy, or miss the recognition and achievement that work brings.

Millennials are now embedded in the workforce and digital natives are fast entering it. Differences between the generations can be over-exaggerated. For instance, millennials are said to be avid job-hoppers; they actually move jobs and regions less often than the previous generation did at their age, according to research by the Resolution Foundation.

Another criticism levelled at millennials is that they crave constant feedback. Is that such a bad thing? The annual performance review seems increasingly out of date; employers could listen to millennials’ concerns rather than dismissing or fearing them. Other issues, like how to respond to intergenerational inequality, continue to challenge employers.

What are enlightened employers doing?

Companies are adjusting to this raft of changes at very different paces, there is a big gap between the laggards and the leaders in this area.

There is a big focus now on how to make work more human. Leaders have to become more relatable and accessible. A sense of purpose is also a key component in successful modern workplaces.

There is a big focus now on how to make work more human. Leaders have to become more relatable and accessible. A sense of purpose is also a key component in successful modern workplaces.
 

Progressive organisations are evolving to become more agile, with flatter structures and more networks. This trend is bolstered by the contingent workforce, which consists of agile freelance or flexible workers. The freedom to work anywhere, anytime, as long as objectives are being met, is becoming more normal, with managers focusing on outcomes, not hours. Leaders are also role modelling this behaviour.

Companies are also becoming more transparent. Technology makes it much easier to find out information about prospective employers online, from salary to reputation.

Employers who are adapting more slowly to the work revolution could use my Five Trust Principles* as a framework:

T = Trust your people
R = Reward outcomes, not hours
U = Understand the business case
S = Start at the top
T = Treat people as individuals

*From Future Work, Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson

The companies adapting fast to these trends are seeing real results: higher productivity, lower office rental costs thanks to agile working, reduced carbon emissions and higher engagement levels. The race is on for other employers to catch up.

Three reasons why you should rethink total reward, BY CAROLE HATHAWAY

The future of work is already here. The world is changing at a rapid pace and we need to take a long, hard look at how we look at total reward.

In light of the pace of change, more organisations are thinking about how to be both customer-centric and employee-centric.

There are three changes which are creating a need to rethink total reward:

  1. Employees have very different expectations about work
    In the modern world of work, people expect to be treated like consumers. They expect their employers to want to understand and interact with them in the same way that the employer would speak to customers. Central to this is bringing total reward to life.
  2. A need to understand the financial cost and impact of total reward
    We need to get better at understanding the value of total reward and measuring the impact of what we do. HR decision-makers need to use fact-based arguments to underpin their decision-making. Understanding what to prioritise is also key: what do people most value, more time off, pay rises or more benefits?
  3. It makes good business sense to modernise total reward
    Companies which have an effective approach to total reward see better results. The evidence is mounting: our own research and many other reports show that organisations which get this right are reporting high levels of engagement, fewer problems attracting and retaining talent in their core skill areas, and financial benefits.