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Deloitte report: Nine out of ten Swiss business and HR leaders see artificial intelligence, people data and connected workplace as top trends

Zurich, 03 May 2018

  • Swiss companies face major skills gaps for the years to come
  • Teaming reaches the C-suite, 70 percent of top management is not working together
  • Organisations have to transform from business enterprises into social enterprises

Amid concerns about automation, the need for new skills, an aging workforce and tightening labour markets, the make-or-break issue facing companies these days is the need for realignment among the C-suite to focus on business’ evolving role in wider society. In its 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, “The Rise of the Social Enterprise,” Deloitte also examines the increasing expectations of the individual, how the C-suite itself must now operate as a team and the breathless pace at which technology is shaping organisations’ human capital priorities. Top trends amongst business leaders and Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) in Switzerland are the connected workplace (86 percent), automation and people data (both 85 percent).

“As society grapples with daunting demographic, technological and social challenges, people want business leaders to fill the gaps. But our research shows: They have still a long way to go,” said Myriam Denk, Head of Human Capital Consulting Deloitte Switzerland. “This year’s report is a wake-up call for organisations to look beyond their own four walls and reimagine their broader roles in society as business environment becomes more competitive and digital disruption continues. Integrating the C-suite to build a more social enterprise will be a differentiator for businesses to attract the right talent, drive customer loyalty and sustain long-term growth.”

Close to 100 respondents in Switzerland point to the need for a team-based, cross-disciplinary approach to tackling complex issues. 83 percent are calling this trend important or very important. Survey results show senior leaders must get out of their silos and work with each other more. Companies where C-suite executives regularly collaborate are one-fifth more likely to be growing more than companies whose leadership occasionally partner on ad hoc initiatives or projects. Despite being necessary to advance the enterprise, 70 percent say their executives do not regularly collaborate. 

Filling a widening gap in society

Increased transparency and heightened political awareness have drawn widespread attention to business’ role in society as a driver of change. Organisations find they are increasingly expected to exercise their ability to do social good, both externally for customers, communities and society, as well as internally for their employees. Companies must take a total stakeholder approach to pressing public issues to maintain reputation and relevancy. With more pressure on businesses to be good citizens and engineer solutions to critical social challenges, citizenship must be a core part of an organisation’s identity and mission.

The new challenges of an aging and hybrid workforce

Internal and external social forces are also driving attention to the aging global workforce. Extended life expectancies raise questions on how long careers will last and how aging workers will impact economies and public policy. 80 percent of survey respondents in Switzerland report that a multi-generational workforce is part of their organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy. Despite the aging global workforce and the competitive advantages older talent offers, less than ten percent of respondents indicate their companies have created targeted roles for older workers to leverage their expertise. However, the aging workforce remains an untapped resource of experience and knowledge for Swiss companies to use to their advantage.

As alternative work arrangements become more common in the broader economy, HR and business leaders are rapidly trying to plan and optimize their own workforce ecosystems, pressured by the need to improve service, move faster, and find new skills. By 2020, 38 percent of Swiss organisations expect a growth in contractors, 57 percent in freelancers, and 44 percent in gig workers. 

Figure 2. Anticipated use of each labour type in 2020 relative to today

Switzerland is performing well when it comes to drive a diverse workforce ecosystem. More than half of the surveyed organisations in Switzerland have an established set of policies and practices to manage this variety of worker types whereas only 16 percent globally. However, it is critical to successfully implement hybrid workforce strategies because they can have a significant impact on an organisation’s employment brand and external reputation.

“The challenge is not just the tactical one of finding enough of the right people to execute particular tasks at particular times. To drive real value through the new workforce ecosystem, organisations need to understand how to appeal to and engage with workers of all kinds”, explained Denk and added, ”HR and business leaders should proactively form new leadership alliances to develop integrated workforce strategies and programs that can help an organisation take advantage of the breadth of workforce options available today.”

AI, robotics and automation - employees will need ongoing development and reskilling

Withthe deployment of AI (Artificial Intelligence), robotics, automation, and people analytics showing no signs of slowing down, companies are reconciling a demand for creativity, social intelligence and ICT expertise as the competencies of the future which a Swiss Deloitte research on the key competencies of employees in the digital age shows in more detail. According to Swiss respondents, outstanding 91 percent believe that AI and cognitive technology will have some or a significant impact on the workforce in 2020, and already 38 percent are now actively redesigning jobs such as an employee engagement specialist, people analytics director or robot recruiter around AI and robotics. While 85 percent of respondents see this area as important, only 31 percent feel ready to address it.

The power of the individual requires a holistic approach to jobs and careers

Companies and individuals realise the traditional career model is becoming defunct: 55 percent of those surveyed in Switzerland consider building new career models and skills as very important. But more than 57 percent have no programs in place to build the skills of the future, and only 25 percent give employees opportunities to actively develop themselves and chart new pathways. Espousing their role as drivers of change in the social enterprise, companies need to work to develop and implement robust solutions to decrease the growing skills gaps.

“Automation is here to stay and will improve scale, speed and quality of work,” said Myriam Denk. “But it’s important to remember that as routine work is automated, new jobs will be created — jobs that are more service-oriented, interpretive, social, and play to our essential human skills. Only companies whose C-suite embraces this transformation and redesign how work gets done to leverage these skills will be able to stay a step ahead of their competition.”

The rise of the hyper-connected workplace

As a flood of new workplace communications tools augments team-based work, more than 86 percent of organisations cite the productivity of the hyper-connected workforce as a very important issue. Resulting in 79 percent of respondents who believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future and 66 percent anticipate a growth in work-based social media tools. But as these tools migrate from personal life to the workplace, organisations must apply their expertise in team management, goal-setting, and employee development to ensure that they actually improve organisational, team, and individual performance and promote the necessary collaboration to truly become a social enterprise. 

Figure 1. Top 10 Deloitte Swiss Human Capital Trends 2018 ranked by importance and readiness
Figure 1. Top 10 Deloitte Swiss Human Capital Trends 2018 ranked by importance and readiness

About 2018 Deloitte Swiss Human Capital Trends

This year’s report, “The Rise of the Social Enterprise”, drawing on a survey of more than 11,000 HR and business leaders globally, describes the emergence of the social enterprise as a response to heightened societal expectations and rapid technological change—and the human capital implications for organisations to address today. The 2018 edition was conducted between October and November 2017, with a total of 93 HR and business leaders participating in Switzerland.

Deloitte Switzerland

Deloitte is a leading accounting and consulting company in Switzerland and provides industry-specific services in the areas of Audit & Assurance, Consulting, Financial Advisory, Risk Advisory and Tax & Legal. With more than 1,800 employees at six locations in Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano and Zurich (headquarters), Deloitte serves companies and organisations of all legal forms and sizes in all industry sectors.

Deloitte Switzerland is an affiliate of Deloitte North West Europe, a member firm of the global network of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) comprising of around 264,000 employees in more than 150 countries.

Note to editors

In this press release, Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Deloitte AG is an affiliate of Deloitte NWE LLP, a member firm of DTTL. Deloitte NWE LLP and DTTL do not provide services to clients. Deloitte AG is an audit firm recognised and supervised by the Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

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