Ten years ago organizations relied on centralized change centers of excellence, deploying standardized change methodologies in a traditional mechanistic approach. Typically, these frameworks were waterfall in nature, running in parallel with the overall program and designed to smooth the integration of program outcomes into business as usual. This approach was relatively stable and predictable, but often took too long to drive adoption and realize organizational benefits.
Today the differences are significant:
- Agile is the dominant methodology, with change practitioners frequently embedded into squads delivering unique aspects of the change.
- Organizational change management is no longer a workstream running in parallel with the overall program, rather it is integrated into the program.
- Change is now frequently delivered via digital and social channels to organically grow adoption and accelerate return on investment.
While this evolution from traditional and mechanistic change to organic and digital is highly beneficial, it leaves one question unanswered. As organizations struggle to keep up with the pace of technology advances and market drivers, how much change can be accommodated before breaking the business? For an organization to benefit from continuous digital change, it must recognize that a future-ready workforce is vital to the success of any digital transformation program. Companies must add workforce readiness to project roadmaps and implement continuous workforce recalibration programs to ensure that everyone is fully prepared for the changes of tomorrow.
Continual Calibration as a Transformation Enabler
The core question of all workforce calibration is this: Is the current workforce the one needed three years ago, or what will be needed three years from now? As the workforce risk associated with each transformation is understood, the need to progressively cultivate the workforce of the future becomes increasingly urgent.
This continual recalibration of workforce capability ahead of coming changes is critical to achieve a sustainable return on investment in each transformation program. Program-based change adoption is now well accepted as essential in integrating program outcomes into business as usual. However, can the people comprising that ‘business as usual’ keep pace not only with the volume of transformation programs in any large organization, but also be work-ready for external changes impacting their company? Technological advances and market forces will impact every organization, whether they are sought out or not. Change is coming, and for organizations to win in this environment a perpetually future-ready workforce is essential.
This requires an underlying and continual layer of workforce calibration to shape the right questions, then build the right answers. If coming automation necessitates the reduction of 100 employees in a specific area, where will these people go? The tribal knowledge held by these people are organizational assets worth retaining, so leading organizations are increasingly seeking to re-skill and redeploy these people in other areas of the business. Calibrating the existing workforce often delivers a faster and better outcome than continuous cycles of redundancies and hiring.
Integrating program outcomes into the business will always be required, though in many companies this remains a piecemeal and reactive approach to workforce management. In contrast, a genuinely holistic and strategic approach to enterprise change management should address the heart of the organization itself, ensuring that the business keeps pace with the new normal of continual change.
Building a Future-Ready Workforce
There are three fundamental components in building a future-ready workforce. Identify the technological drivers that are most impactful for the organization’s industry in the coming three to five years. Automation, IoT, 5G and others still in the research and development stages are all analyzed to generate high quality and highly relevant data on upcoming changes to the organization’s workforce needs. Predict the adoption rate of these technologies in each geography through web scraping and neuro-linguistic programming analysis of job advertisements. Alliances with leading industry research and technology providers can also be leveraged to identify local insights. Identify the impact of current external forces (such as the ongoing COVID pandemic) and predict the impact of market forces (such as changes to government regulations).
Depending upon the insights derived from the data analyzed, the workforce calibration roadmap may include:
- Organizational design: The agile ways of working long embedded in IT now need to be adopted throughout the enterprise, to deliver a nimble organization moving ahead of its competitors.
- Skills and capabilities: A new agile approach to skills is needed, based on the Build-Borrow-Buy-Automate choices to future-proof an organization, with refreshed and modernized recruitment and selection processes decreasing costs and measurably increasing productivity.
- Transform learning: Homeworking, mobile, on-demand and other trends are all dramatically transforming the way employees consume learning. By leveraging the right technology to offer an engaging learning experience, capability uplifts are accelerated and generate sustained learning outcomes.
- Culture and behaviors: The move from traditional to digital models and hybrid work environments comes with strong cultural shifts. Only by hardwiring these new behaviors into the organization’s DNA can tangible links be drawn between a company’s culture and improved financial outcomes.
- Employee experience: By creating an employee experience that is personalized and rooted in data insights and smart listening, organizations can measure tangible decreases in unwanted attrition and more engaged, productive employees.
The Future is Now
Organizational change management has evolved significantly over the last 10-15 years from a centralized and traditional approach to frequently delivering change in highly agile programs. While this comes with its benefits, it also requires a workforce that is nimble, adaptable and forward-focused. This means knowing upcoming technological and market drivers and adapting ahead of the curve to minimize business disruption. This underpinning layer of perpetual workforce calibration ensures the organization is ready, willing and able to embed transformational outcomes into the business.
Wipro’s Workforce Transformation services enable our clients to cultivate a future-ready workforce. Companies can leverage our ecosystem of AI-enabled technology and labor market data analysis to continually recalibrate their enterprise workforce. This ensures that organizations remain perpetually equipped for rapid changes to the new ways of working. The workforce of the future will not suddenly appear in the future – they are already here, and they need to be prepared.