The workforce revolution. What is your plan?

The very nature of work is changing, and your workforce strategy must adapt as well.
The changes being inflicted on the how and what of our work are complex, rapid and multifaceted. From the geographical and spatial changes that occurred when we moved to working from home or out of regional towns, to the technology advances of the fourth industrial revolution, to the demographic trends of aging, multicultural populations and, of course, quickly changing economic markets. We’re in unchartered territory – so if an organisation is to remain relevant, it must transform to master change.   

Transformations help businesses adapt

Organisations and their workforce strategies that are intentionally designed to flex to meet market demands can make the most of the opportunities available to them. But workforce change requires transformation, and transformation is complex and difficult.
The Hays Salary Guide FY23/24 highlighted that Australian and New Zealand businesses are already evolving. Almost two thirds reported that they had undertaken some form of workplace transformation in the past 12 months, whether that’s through organisational restructuring, digitising workstreams or changing headcounts.
However the sharp increase in staff turnover during big programs of change, and the fail rate of transformation demonstrates that these change programs need to be handled with care. The key to any successful workplace evolution is the people. Whether that’s people designing change programs to take teams on the journey, finding the people with the right skills to make the transformation happen or identifying the people who comprise the teams that enact the transformation – the right people with the right skills can help make an organisations efforts towards transformation be more successful.
According to a Deloitte report, transformation failures are often because of fear, reluctance and misunderstanding – or psychological fears of the people involved in them, a fear that can in part be addressed by the right people in leadership positions. 

Automation and AI will redesign work, but we can define it. 

Increased automation will affect the roles we perform, in our latest Salary Guide, 64 per cent of employers reported that automation will change the skills composition of their workforce in the next 10 years – requiring employees to upskill their digital (96 per cent), technical (95 per cent) and soft (85 per cent) skill sets.
Employees must prioritise continuous learning with 97 per cent agreeing that upskilling is important to future proof their career, yet only 48 per cent of workers say they will develop technical skills in the year ahead.
Formal and informal learning and development opportunities should be an imperative for any business leader, and employee, wanting to keep pace. The first step should be toward identifying the skills you have and mapping out the skills needed for the future. The uncertainty of how new and emerging technologies will impact the technical needs of any job role means that focus is shifting away from job titles and the technical capabilities required to perform those roles, over to skills and skill clusters.
According to the National Skills Commission, “skill clusters illustrate a new way of looking at the labour market at a deeper level. This view shows how skills are related and connect to one another and illustrates the transferability of skills across occupations”. By shifting the thinking away from linear job titles and career pathways, identifying skill clusters needed allows organisations to build learning and development pathways to create teams that are adaptable, agile and cross-functional for this new world of work. Learn more on how you can implement effective learning and development strategies.  

When agility is the imperative, contingent workforces help 

The Hays Salary Guide FY 23/24 found that 42 per cent of organisations are using temporary and contract workers to gain skills that are required for one-off projects or tasks, with 64 per cent reporting their use of temp workers will remain the same in the year ahead, while 22 per cent will increase their use. This temporary workforce is also being used to shore up hard-to-find skills, with 68 per cent of businesses reporting that they use temp and contractor workers to meet short-term workload demands. 
A contingent workforce allows organisations better flexibility in response to increased competition and changes in technology, but top contingent workers are in as high demand as full time employees so attraction strategies need to be carefully considered. To find the right people quickly, a contractor employee value proposition should be designed and implemented.  

Work is being redesigned, so too must workforce strategies  

To start to build an agile workforce strategy, organisations will need to get a clear picture of their current skills and capabilities, think through how new and emerging technologies will affect the design of job roles and the tasks they will perform and what the future demand for different skills will be. The biggest challenge for business leaders is to identify the skills that the organisation will need in the near - and long-term future. Automation and AI are taking on the heavy lifting of repeatable, codified tasks and there is continued uncertainty of how this will affect certain job roles within a business as highlighted in our survey that saw almost 50 per cent of business leaders reporting that headcounts would increase in response to increased automation and almost 50 per cent reporting that they thought it would decrease headcounts.
Once skills are identified, the structure of what a traditional work team looks like can be reconsidered. A report from Deloitte highlighted that by decoupling the tasks that need to be done from the job role, employees are freed from being defined by their job titles and are instead encouraged to understand where their particular skills and capabilities can be fluidly deployed to work on projects or outcomes that match their strengths and interests as well as to evolving business imperatives. Basing workforce strategies on skills rather than the job title can allow organisations to have scalable, manageable and more agile ways of operating.
The Hays Salary Guide FY23/24 offers market insights and workforce trends based on data from more than 14,000 respondents across Australia and New Zealand. Download your copy now.

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