Cover
RAPPORT

Harnessing revolution

Creating the future workforce

Digital has already delivered a major blow to businesses slow to respond. There’s more to come. The very concept of work is being redefined as different generations enter and exit the workforce amidst a rapidly changing technological landscape. Responsive and responsible leaders must act to harness the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for long-term advantage and shareholder value. Mindful to put their people first, at the center of change. The new leadership imperative is clear: Create the future workforce. Now.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will create winners and losers. Both organizations and individuals. Seismic shifts will wreak havoc in some local and national economies and may even contribute to social unrest. Tackling myriad issues involved in organizations won’t be easy. And the global economic context isn’t helping.

At the very moment the global economy should have achieved a boost thanks to digital—from 2004 to 2014—labor productivity growth slowed significantly. In 30 of the 31 advanced economies it declined from a 2 percent average annual growth rate from 1994 to 2004 to a 1 percent average. The immediacy of today’s workforce challenge is compounded by recent macroeconomic trends that show overall sluggishness: The revenues and profits for a sample of the largest 1,219 companies across nine industries show a clear decline (see Figure 1).

Leaders need to leverage every advantage at their disposal—including one which risks being overlooked as companies focus on technology investment: ensuring people are relevant and adaptable to rise to the challenge of this new revolution.

If this sounds like an HR issue—don’t be fooled. Creating the future workforce—now—is the responsibility of the very highest levels of an organization because of the complexity and the urgency of the challenge and opportunity. Navigating the path towards the workforce of the future will require leaders to ask tough questions. How do we: Attract and develop the new talent we need? Scale and accelerate the pace of change? Make sure the people with us now don’t get left behind? Secure the right amount and type of investment in our people to prepare them?

Luckily, at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, leaders have an advantage. Thanks to the learnings of the last—online—revolution, they’re acutely aware of the disruptive nature of technology. And are experiencing the unprecedented scale and velocity of transformation in real time.

Because of this consciousness, and the increase in knowledge and information available to them, leaders can work proactively to address the complex equation they’re facing. There may never have been a better opportunity to get ahead of this issue. And never a greater risk of inaction.

Accenture launched original research in three parts to help leaders understand the situation and their options to act: The Worker Values Index created in partnership with Gallup. Econometric modeling to codify the impact of automation on labor productivity. And finally, a survey of more than 10,000 workers in ten countries exploring the impact of technological advances on work today and in the future.

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