Preparing for the future of work 

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Uncover how organisations are seizing the opportunity to redesign work, working and the workplace.

Focusing the discussion on work-life balance and the need for talent to own their own reskilling journeys misses the broader transformation that needs to occur.
Ravin Jesuthasan

Global Transformation Services Leader, Mercer

Living in a heightened risk environment — where risks and opportunities intersect in unexpected ways — is the new reality. A fundamental change in people’s values is underpinning a structural shift in the labour market.

Continued turbulence impacts ambitions

The strained supply chains and geopolitical conflict of the last two years remain. So do concerns over inequality, slow progress on social justice and the decarbonisation agenda that is currently slated for a disorderly net-zero transition. Market gyrations and inflation concerns also continue as views diverge over whether to take bold action and how to mitigate risk.

We have all learnt lessons from the pandemic — the fingerprints of which are evident in executives’ plans for business resilience and recovery. In the event of another economic downturn, C-suite executives plan to make strategic investments instead of merely cutting costs as they did when the pandemic first hit. Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study reveals an interesting comparison to the last time executives had to contemplate an impending downturn:

  • Fewer plan to leverage variable staffing models (down from 39% in 2019 to 29% today).
  • Fewer plan to reduce headcount (down from 30% to 26% today).

This reflects a pandemic-era lesson — that companies can be more nimble in difficult times by retaining people who know the culture and are already committed to the journey — and acknowledges the unique challenges of a tight economic climate combined with a hot labour market.

A more sustainable, consumer-grade digital employee experience

As they prepare for the future of work, most organisations have already embarked on their digital transformation journeys. This digital journey accelerated exponentially as the pandemic rapidly pushed processes online and into the cloud. In response, leading employers are adding new digital platforms for everything from connecting and collaborating at work to accessing benefits and digital health solutions. 

Expectations are high. Organisations must be strategic and make sustainable, consumer-grade choices precisely aligned with their business and people strategies. Leading with a digital-forward employee value proposition not only helps companies stay agile, it also provides a better-quality employee experience overall — helping to attract and retain talent. And while many employees are digital-ready, others will need support in adapting to these new technologies.

Adapt to a new work operating system

The impact of technology acceleration on the future of work has been profound. At the same time, we have experienced the democratisation of work opportunities. To navigate the rapidly evolving world of work, policymakers, leaders, managers and workers require a “new work operating system” that unhooks workers and workforce capabilities from traditional job boundaries.
Organisations need to design well-being and learning into the flow of work.
Ravin Jesuthasan

Global Transformation Services Leader, Mercer

Investing in total well-being

When asked to describe the future of work, one in three employees says it is about equity. They expect employers to move from merely offering benefits to being active partners in people’s health and wealth outcomes — such as ensuring access to high-quality healthcare (where gaps still exist today, especially in emerging markets), having a contingency for those in financial crisis or helping to close pension deficits.

The focus on outcomes broadens the discussion to include the social determinants of health. Such nonmedical factors often hinge on unmet needs, the aspects of an individual’s living and working environment that cause stress or poor health — such as debt, savings gaps, precarious healthcare access, or limited child or elder care, as well as basic needs like housing, food and transportation. Addressing the whole person’s needs is crucial to driving health outcomes across the diverse populations that make up the workforce — and it shows the company truly cares.

It is clear that health and total well-being have become more central to the debate on the future of work.
Till Leopold

World Economic Forum

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