How Leading Companies Build Successful Workforces of the Future

December 4, 2017 | Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. | HCI
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Today’s workforce is being redefined by an ever-evolving technological landscape, novel organizational dynamics and the bridging of the socio-cultural gap within the global business ecosystem.

What does that mean for tomorrow’s workforce? Change, of course.

Leading organizations, like Marathon Oil, have focused on engaging strategic workforce planning for their advantage. One initiative they’ve championed is investing in education and enhancing the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum within the various communities where they operate.

Still, more companies have taken different approaches, including working within their organizations to strengthen the talent pipeline (training and recruitment), conducting needs-discovery analyses to identify gaps within the current workforce and future needs, and even considering new approaches using technology and collaboration to maximize overall efficiency and effectiveness.

What leading organizations know for sure is this: Being proactive and forward-thinking is critical to their own success and that of their most valuable capital assets -- their people -- both now and in the future.

Consider the following strategies, which are leveraged by leading companies, as you strive to build a successful workforce of the future within your organization.

Be transparent

The best way to advance toward the future is to see it clearly. Understanding organizational goals, inclusive of current and future workforce trends, is essential to increase competitive advantage and to assist in overall strategic planning. Communicating this information to employees, stakeholders and other interested parties in an open and straightforward manner is fundamental to this purpose, like Whole Foods Market demonstrated with its recent change to product labeling and GMO transparency, which helped it to restore the public’s trust and keep its “healthy food promise.”

While it can be enticing to shroud your message in secrecy, it can also be exhausting and counter-productive. Resist the urge to “hide the ball” or equivocate unnecessarily unless security or legal issues are at stake. Remember that transparency is also valuable currency in the trust economy and can help you build beneficial relationships that generate esprit de corps within your workforce.

Promote innovation

Relying on methods of the past may seem comforting, but leveraging them exclusively may leave you at a strategic disadvantage. Since building a workforce of the future necessarily means embracing change, it’s important to begin looking at “next practices” a bit differently.  Next generation tech companies like Accenture have mastered this concept, and are known for promoting innovation, including automation, to create an agile workforce while harnessing change.

Rather than being wed to best practices, welcome innovation and actively promote it by exploring new opportunities to better serve the needs of your organization. This may mean using new technology to streamline a process, or finding better ways to collaborate across industries to maximize the quality and efficiency of your product or service. Listen to your employees and encourage them to share their ideas about innovation as well.

Identify and strengthen the talent pipeline

If you want to create a continuous flow of valuable talent throughout your organization, you have to identify and strengthen that talent to be successful, which means designing a human resource strategy that specifically targets the kind of talent you seek to recruit and retain. It also means understanding the difference between high performers and high potentials, and creating opportunities for each employee can learn, grow and contribute to organizational outcomes.

Sometimes a facet of an organization’s human resource strategy will focus on diversity and inclusion.  Novartis Pharma AG, for example, has been particularly successful in increasing the number of female leaders within the organization through targeted human capital development strategies. What distinguishes this, and any other successful HR strategy, is the ability to ascertain a need and provide mechanisms for high-powered learning and growth.