Posted: 28 Jun. 2019 5 min. read

An interview with Will Gosling

2019 Human Capital Trends Report

Deloitte’s annual Human Capital Trends report launched in May, and we caught up with Will Gosling, Human Capital Consulting Lead, about the key theme and topics from the 2019 report. Here’s what you need to know…

Leading the social enterprise - reinvent with a human focus

The Social Enterprise emerged as a theme in last year’s report and this year it dominated. CEOs told us that their number one priority this year, and how they are going to measure their success, was the impact that they have on society.

An organisation that focusses on being a social enterprise is one that pursues revenue growth and profit growth but does so with respect to its environment, to the stakeholders that it supports, and the stakeholders that it has an impact on.

As a result of this, many organisations are now trying to define a purpose that goes above and beyond simply making money. However, this year’s report suggested that increasing philanthropy, or corporate social responsibility, is no longer enough. The workforce and society are asking businesses to go further and really rethink the way in which they conduct work and how that work has a societal impact.

Three actionable categories

This year we organised the Trends into three actionable categories: the future of the workforce, the future of the organisation and the future of HR.

  • The Future of the Workforce

The workforce has become much more diverse, more complex and more demanding to manage because organisations have to dip into different talent pools to fulfil their growth requirements and to obtain the capabilities that they need. This includes talent pools for full-time employees and alternative sources. This means that the workforce will look and feel very different going forward, which has profound implications for leadership, leadership models and leadership styles.

  • The future of the organisation

We are seeing lots of disruption led by digital businesses that are challenging traditional business models. Creating new look teams is going mainstream and organisations are now implementing agile networks of teams across their entire business, and are seeing dramatic effects. This is transforming organisations and companies are rethinking the employee experience by redesigning their business model.

  • The future of HR

HR needs to continue to step up and evolve its own capability as it has an increasingly important transformational role within organisations. In the age of the social enterprise and with work being reinvented, this represents a major challenge, and it’s not something that the HR function can do alone.

How we use technology to augment employees is going to become increasingly important. The HR function must ensure that the human element is not lost when introducing this new technology.

Bring meaning back into the workplace

Another key theme from this year’s research alongside the social enterprise is meaning. Respondents told us that we have lost the connection between the work that employees do and the impact it has, and this is where the social enterprise comes in.

I think there are many positive advances of technology into the workplace but the human element has been left behind. Employees are struggling to understand their role and identity in the organisation. They are asking, what impact am I having and why does it matter?

How can organisations tackle this?

  1. The future of the workforce: creating a sense of belonging
    I think this is where leadership really comes in and new leaders have a responsibility to ensure that they are able to engage and articulate to employees their role and purpose, and why their work matters.
  2. The future of the organisation: the design of work and how we reward
    It’s really important that we’re able to help workers understand and get recognition for the impact their work is having on society, not solely on business performance.
  3. The future of HR: creating a place for self-actualisation
    The HR function really needs to step in and make sure that we are using technology to augment the worker, ensuring that we leverage the human skills we have - human + technology - to create ‘superjobs’ or the augmented employee.

Now we’ve discussed the broad themes, what were the key Trends in this year’s Human Capital Trends report?

Employee experience: the Number 1 trend in the UK this year

This is a topic of conversation that I am having all the time with my clients. I’m seeing more and more work being done by businesses to really think about the employee experience, and to start to do things like orientate their operating model and rethink technology programmes. In a similar way that organisations have in recent years talked about the customer experience and the customer journey, we are now thinking about the employee journey from hire to retire.

This trend is also about the human experience; not just the experience that people have at work but also the experience of work itself. So how is the work that I am doing actually impacting society and the stakeholders that I as a worker in an organisation interact with, or with whom I have some kind of relationship?

Technology and disruptive business models are changing the work that employees they are doing, and they feel disconnected. What can businesses do, and leaders in particular, to help bring that connection back to work? This can be something simple like helping call centre workers understand the personas of the people that they are dealing with, and the impact that solving a problem quickly can have on a stressed customer.

Learning is a very big and exciting trend

Driving this trend is the acceleration of technology into the workplace and the disruption of the half-life of skills. The half-life of many skills is around four years, which means employees have to reinvent themselves much more frequently than they had to in the past.

However, in parallel, you have demographic disruption going on here as well. People are living much longer: 70 is the new 50! In addition, the over 55 bracket is the fastest growing worker segment in the UK today, which means that people are expecting to and need to have several careers. There is a role for organisations to step in, to reskill workers as their skills become either redundant through technology or through business model change. Organisations need to help workers feel that they are relevant - relevant to the organisation, relevant to society, and that they are not just going to be displaced by technology.

Leadership and societal impact

How do you lead in a way that has relevance for the impact that your organisation is having on society? The social enterprise piece, ‘leading in a social enterprise’, is a very new discipline. Many leaders are struggling with what they are measured on now, compared to what they have traditionally focused on - shareholder value or commercial value, profits, and revenue growth. There is a completely new angle now that leaders have to tackle, and that is not easy. However our respondents made it clear that it’s a challenge that is now unavoidable.

Listen to the full interview [podcast] with Will Gosling.

Read more on the Deloitte 2019 Human Capital Trends report.

For more Future of Work insights, check out our Humanising the Future of Work podcast

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Key contact

Will Gosling

Will Gosling

UK Human Capital Leader

Will Gosling is a Human Capital Partner and leads the UK CHRO Transition and Development programme. He advises private sector clients, specialising in the Technology, Media and Telecoms industry, in the areas of organisation transformation, employee engagement and HR effectiveness. Will also leads Deloitte's Digital Leadership research and founded a professional community for digital leaders and talent across the UK. His work has contributed to industry recognition, winning the MCA HR Consulting and CBI Human Capital awards.