Business Today

Announcing the Arrival of "Future at Work"

Employees send out three key messages to employers.
Shelly Singh   New Delhi     Print Edition: March 11, 2018
Announcing the Arrival of

If one were to ask business persons to vote for 2017's most powerful theme, it would be "AI and Future of Work". Moving beyond coffee table discussions, there is not only a wider acknowledgement of "Future of Work" in 2018, but the action has also started. This year's BT-PeopleStrong "Best Companies to Work For In India" captures perceptions and aspirations like these and bring the key asks of your "born-free" workforce, which is announcing the beginning of the new world of work.

Here are the three distinct messages for employers.

We are ready to embrace digital; so should you!

As digital and AI become part of our lives, the question staring at employers is - how do we make people embrace change? Do my employees understand the impact and what needs to be done to get through this wave? Let me ask a question: Have we done enough to power this change? If not, we might be late. The good or bad news is that almost 60 per cent of the respondents accept digital disruption's impact on life and work. Eighty-five per cent of the respondents have chosen "Use of AI at workplaces", "Change in work culture and processes" and "Change in roles" as areas which will impact them in the next 6-12 months and are looking up to employers to facilitate this transition. Systems of record have moved to Systems of engagement, but that is not enough for this change. Mere automation is not digital. Employees have to be equipped with the Systems of intelligence that will power the wave of humanising organisations.

Attractive jobs don't make a Best Company To Work For

An often-heard quote is: Employees do not understand that mere technical skills are not enough for job and company fit. Our survey tells us employees feel a similar dichotomy with employers. As the world shifts to human-machine partnerships, what clicks is not the fancy job description. While respondents agree that good compensation, growth opportunities and work environment make a job attractive, the Best Companies to Work For are inclusive and fair, are visibly open, not driven by hierarchies and offer an opportunity to innovate. Fifty-six per cent respondents rated compensation as the least important parameter in this mix, and 50 per cent rated open and flatter organisations as the most important one.

It is a marked movement in an employee's priorities at work, and that is precisely why still 40 per cent employees are looking for new opportunities. This shift in mindset is visible in repeat appearance of Google, Accenture and Amazon in the Top Five list as these companies have accepted the ask of the young workforce in the new digital world, namely, Inclusion, Openness and Innovation.

Women say, "Time's up"

It is not only in the West that bringing women on a par with men is being discussed. Oprah Winfrey's powerful narrative of "Time's up" is echoed by women respondents. One out of five women has voted for the disparity in pay-performance compared to 8 per cent men and have passed on the message that the best place to work for provides "Fair" and "Equal" opportunity. It is heartening to see this, as voicing out the problem and not accepting the norm were long due. While organisations may still find reasons to question and ignore these asks today, the born-free workforce dreams of an Innovative, Inclusive and Open "Future of Work", and is demanding that employers create this future. Are we ready?

Shelly Singh is Co-founder, PeopleStrong

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