Posted: 14 Mar. 2019 5 min. read

The future of work: Lessons from an emerging global market

By Bushra Naaz, manager, Deloitte Center of Health Solutions

The future of work is gaining momentum in the US and across the globe. I recently attended the Future of Workplace Summit in Mumbai, India’s financial district. I was curious to hear how companies in this dynamic and fast-paced city are approaching the future of work.

The Deloitte Center of Health Solutions recently conducted research on the future of work for the US health care market. The summit in Mumbai, which was aimed at talent professionals across multiple industries, offered a global perspective on this topic. Many of the sessions focused on new talent models and emerging technologies. My main take-away from the summit (and from our study) is that everyone can learn from developing markets when it comes to the future of work.

According to our research, about 75 percent health organizations in the US are investing in the future of work, and more than 65 percent of them are working on a strategic plan. Many executives at the Mumbai summit said they are experimenting with future-of-work initiatives, and are beginning to implement some of them.

Globally, the workplace is undergoing a transformation driven by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation, and cognitive computing.

In some markets, these technologies are already being integrated into the workplace. In Japan, for example, more than 300,000 industrial robots are now being used in manufacturing and other related sectors.During the summit, leaders of some India-based companies discussed their growing reliance on automation, adoption of bots, and use of augmented and virtual reality. For example, Mindtree, a Bengaluru-based information technology company that focuses on AI, is building bots to help streamline day-to-day tasks.

Multiple factors could alter the workforce and workplace

Talent models are changing along with changes in the workplace. A growing demand for agile and technologically savvy workers is prompting some employers to offer alternatives to the traditional workplace, such as virtual or gig opportunities. In addition, these two factors are likely to further alter the workforce:

  1. Nearly half (47 percent) of all jobs globally could be automated over the next 20 years.2
  2. Millennials now make up almost 50 percent of the global workforce, and are expected to account for nearly 75 percent of the overall workforce by 2025.

Changing demographics, rapid urbanization, an expanding middle class, an increasing life expectancy, and more women in the workforce are among the changes that are encouraging companies around the world—across multiple industries—to adopt future-of-work strategies. While the drivers of this change might vary across regions and sectors, the solutions are largely the same. Organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve will likely need to adopt new technologies and new talent models.

Talent engagement and technology are future-of-work pillars

The changing workforce could push some employers to shift to an AI-led approach for finding talent. During a panel discussion at the Mumbai conference, leaders from several companies—including a generic-drug manufacturer—discussed how they are beginning to use “recruiter bots” in their talent functions. The bots help schedule meetings, sort resumes, and send automated responses to applicants.

As employers adopt more sophisticated technologies, they will likely need to recruit and retain talent with new skillsets.Globally, companies are developing more connected workplaces, and some are creating virtual settings for their workers. Three trends that were discussed at the conference are:

  • Talent models are changing: Companies around the world are beginning to engage employees for their strengths and develop new skills for future. They are focusing on niche skills so that employees can be used for the most appropriate jobs and providing training to prepare workers for more complex duties. Many companies are starting to develop multi-generational and multi-skilled teams, hybrid work roles, and are encouraging gender diversity. Some companies are expanding their talent models by focusing on the exit process in addition to onboarding. This can encourage former employees to consider returning in future. In addition, some organizations are building alumni networks and forums, which can give employees new avenues to return to work after a sabbatical or change in work role.
  • Technology can enhance talent development: Some companies are trying to improve talent development by integrating virtual/augmented reality, internet of things, and robotic process automation. In India, for example, virtual/augmented reality has been used to create immersive education platforms. The platforms provide training modules on skill development and assessment, and can help workers develop niche skills.5 Some startups are using teleport calling, which allows employees to attend meetings or training sessions in an immersive virtual setting.
  • Gamification is being used to attract and screen candidates: Some startups in emerging markets are incorporating gamifying assessment tools into their recruitment practices. This tool is typically built on an AI-based/predictive-analytics platform and employs a psychometric framework to uncover key behaviors and attributes of candidates. This can help recruiters determine if a potential candidate is a good match for a job. Many companies are also using virtual reality for candidate screening, and assessments to create a fun and futuristic experience for candidates. This technology can also help enhance the employer’s image and improve engagement with employees. It also can enhance the recruitment process and improve the quality of candidates, which can help companies streamline the talent-assessment process.6

The future-of-work wave has hit

It is evident that industries and organizations can learn from developing markets when it comes to the future of work. The use of technology to engage employees—from the hiring process to exit interviews—is growing. The future-of-work wave is hitting industries around the world, and companies that want to catch that wave should revisit their talent models and incorporate new technologies as part of their long-term business strategy.

1. The Future of Work in the Developing world, Brookings


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