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The world of work is now in a state of perpetual change, consistently floating through the vacuum of evolution due to the progressions of technology, business thinking, and major economic developments. No longer do the traditional concepts of labor and work apply to the contemporary enterprise; ramifications from the “gig economy” and now-decade-long sustained growth of the contingent workforce are not only giving rise to fresh talent engagement approaches, but also concurrently becoming intertwined with a technological revolution that is actively changing how businesses address work.
This, the “Future of Work,” is the overarching (yet confounding) concept that is sweeping the business world. Economists, technology experts, industry analysts (ahem), authors, and even political pundits are all actively weighing on how businesses will run in the coming years…all from various points of view: talent, labor, automation, engagement, social, etc. The following attributes are all relative gamechangers in any discussion of the Future of Work:
- The transformation of the executive mindset. First and foremost, the true Future of Work is predicated on the notion that real business leaders transform their very thinking about not only how talent is engaged and sourced, but also how work is addressed from inception to completion (and everything in-between). Essentially, those in the C-suite must alter legacy approaches to talent engagement, technology, and enterprise culture to ensure the greater organization thrives in any future state.
- Consumerization of talent and work. The Gig Economy represents a seismic shift in the greater landscape of work, labor, and talent, thus far sparking real social, political, and economic transformation across the global marketplace. Business processes related to talent and work are being altered to reflect more consumerized methods of consumption; organizational leaders now have the ability (and will even more so in the future) to address their skills gaps in the same way real-life consumers order services, content, and products. In the past, connecting talented workers to businesses took time, money, and resources. Today, the same technology (i.e. mobile applications) that helps everyday people order products and services is the very innovation that has consumerized the connections between flexible workers and the businesses that require their expertise.
- On-demand talent engagement. Similar to the bullet above and pertaining to the actual engagement of talent, the consumerization of talent in the business world was sparked by the advent of online staffing outlets and online talent platforms. From vertical-specific platforms to wide-reaching freelancer networks, these on-demand sources of talent are actively driving holistic talent engagement by automating real-time project-to-skills matching leveraging unique algorithms and deep talent intelligence. The continued rise of non-employee labor, and its overarching place in the Future of Work, is partly owed to the innovative held in online and digital staffing platforms that are assisting businesses with finding and engaging talent in an on-demand fashion.
- The truly blended workforce. The fact that, in just a few short years, nearly 50% of the average workforce will be considered “non-employee” in some sense (be it independent contractor, freelancer, robotics, temporary staff, professionals service, etc.) is just half of the equation when talking about today’s “blended” workforce of contingent and traditional workers. Rather, the blended workforce is not just the makeup of a company’s entire labor force, but the means in which two distinctly different types of workers collaborate, share, and strive to achieve core business goals and initiatives. The greater transformation of the executive mindset becomes that much more significant when accounting for the role of flexible workers in addressing mission-critical projects. In this regard, the concept of “agile talent” comes into play, founded on the premise of the utilization of recurring, highly-skilled freelancers and consultants, who add a sheen of “agility” to businesses by dropping into and out of enterprises as they are needed.
- Artificial intelligence and next-generation analytics (such as cognitive and predictive analytics). While there is a major set of differences between business intelligence/analytical functionality and the realm of artificial intelligence, the common link is this: data and visibility are paramount to the Future of Work. From the analytics perspective, whether the focus is on traditional or non-employee workers (and in the short term, remember: “blended” is becoming the norm), cognitive and predictive analytics add a human element to hiring decisions and future skills gaps. This is why the integration of contingent workforce technology (such as VMS) and human capital systems (like RPO or HRIS) play heavily in the Future of Work: organizations that rely on a truly blended workforce require deep intelligence to not only pinpoint future talent gaps, but also require insights into how their workforce is globally situated, the real skillsets/expertise that are available in-house, and the accessibility of non-employee workers in the organization’s talent pool. Similarly, AI is revolutionizing how talent impacts the greater business by mixing the proximity of cognitive thinking with the ability to discover (in real-time) key patterns and trends across the entirety of a business’ global workforce. Many HR functions are also harnessing the power of AI via chatbots and digital assistants to simulate job interviews, answer human capital-related inquiries, propel employee engagement, and enhance talent acquisition by modeling alignment scenarios between prospective candidates and the positions they are seeking.
Stay tuned for Part II of this new article series, and, if you’re interested in learning more about the Future of Work or non-employee workforce, make sure to subscribe to the Contingent Workforce Weekly podcast.