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What you can do now to make your workforce future-proof


In our series of future of work surveys it is time to  look at the following question: what can organisations and working people do now to prepare for a structurally different work situation? The findings revealed by ‘Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workforce, Today’ provide some useful guidance.

By Bastiaan Starink and Mark Schel - people & organisation specialists PwC

The question is no longer whether and when your workplace will transform: it is already happening. The availability of smart, proactive technology is an important driver of this change. Other factors include the call for greater diversity and equality and the need for a different work-life balance. Employment relationships are becoming more flexible. As more and more of us are working for longer and changing careers, we need to continue to pursue our professional and personal development. It is time to transform fear of change into the will to work in collaboration with technology.

What you can do now to make your workforce future-proof

A secure, reliable and challenging working situation

This turnaround can only be achieved in a working environment that is motivating, where reward packages are tailored to individual needs and the legal contractual arrangements match that. In other words, a secure, reliable and challenging working situation that reflects the lifestyles and ideals of current and future workers while also taking account of stress and workload.

But how do we get there? What do we need to do NOW to ensure we can still be successful employers and clients in the future and what should we be focusing particular attention on? The third part of the PwC series on The Future of Work provides an answer to these questions.

Competences that will be needed to future-proof the workforce

‘Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workforce, Today’ is based on a survey of executives (41% working in HR) from 1,246 public and private organisations in 49 different countries (including the Netherlands). The vast majority of those surveyed agree with the picture described above.

The international respondents also show remarkable agreement when it comes to the capabilities that will need to be developed (or enhanced) as a priority in order to prepare their workforce for this. From the wide range of responses to the questionnaire compiled in partnership with the London Business School, we singled out the top ten most at-risk capabilities – organisational and human competences that will be needed to future-proof the workforce, but on which, in the view of our respondents, organisations still have some way to go.

  1. Using data analytics in workforce decision-making (cited by 41% of respondents).
  2. Plugging skills gaps with the help of data analytics (34%).
  3. Removing bias in hiring and reward policy (34%).
  4. Increasing the tech-savviness of HR (34%).
  5. Increasing engagement with flexible talent (34%).
  6. Managing workloads (33%).
  7. Deploying strategic workforce planning (32%).
  8. Modernising career paths (32%).
  9. Increasing the agility and adaptability of employees and organisation (32%).
  10. Improving the workspace ecosystem (31%).

Based on the survey results, the PwC researchers recommend the following to the organisations based in the Netherlands:

Offer several reward packages and career paths

This should be coordinated to reflect the needs of people in different phases of their lives. It will partly involve offering a choice of different types of contracts so that people can choose the option that suits them best.

Increase the quality and reliability of workforce analytics

In order to be able to make better strategic HR decisions, investments will need to be made in improving the digital tools available to HR and the data standard must be in order. Analyses based on unreliable data provide unreliable insights. There is also the challenge of achieving a better match between job profiles and what people actually do and are capable of. If it is not clear what competencies employees have, this undermines the potential of workforce analytics.

Incentivise HR to embrace technology and let it work to its advantage

HR also needs to have confidence to take the lead in identifying routine tasks that can be automated and to take responsibility for continuous education and reskilling people for the work of the future. In order to take on this role, more people with analytical competencies and business skills will be needed.

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workforce, Today

Contact us

Bastiaan Starink

Bastiaan Starink

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 375 58 28

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