30 August 2018

Australia, Melbourne

‘New Thinking for a New Era’    

  • More than three quarters of workforce leaders (78%) have seen younger workers deprived of an opportunity to advance because of longer tenured staff
  • 94% of interviewees say technology advancement has been positive for their industry or company
  • Only 26% consider their business a leader in workforce agility

Companies could face irrelevance by not planning for the new world of work. According to “Fault Lines: Opportunity and risk for today’s workforce leaders,” a new report released by Mercer, to remain agile in a 100% uncertain world, HR and business leaders must take the lead and build strategies to address what Mercer’s research reveals are the five forces of change.  

As digital technology ushers in a fourth industrial revolution; social, political and economic forces are combining to shape a world that is impossible to predict. Mercer’s research report, Fault Lines, reveals today’s business world is shaped by five key forces that are moving together to carve out tomorrow’s landscape: Low Economic Growth, Technology Disruption, Regulation, Global Connectedness, and Living Longer. 

Practice Leader for Talent Strategy & Organisation at Mercer, Ephraim Patrick says the concept of Fault Lines provides a new model for understanding a multi-layered and multi-directional set of challenges that represent the new business reality.   

“Whether it is understanding how to unlock the best of people and technology, how to shape a workforce that is more adaptable and creative, or building a strategy that addresses the competing needs of an increasingly multi-generational workforce, Fault Lines provides a new way for business leaders to see the interactions and think in more dynamic ways about their strategic challenges.” 

The Coming of Ageism: According to the report, a pressure point is emerging as a highly educated younger generation focussed on establishing their economic foothold, push up against older workers who face their own financial pressures to fund an increasingly long retirement. Fault Lines reveals that 78% of interviewees said they had encountered workplace situations where junior colleagues felt deprived of an opportunity to advance because of longer-tenured staff. However, ageism can work both ways, with one in four leaders (25%) noting they had seen examples where older people in the workforce had been pushed out to free up jobs for younger people. 

“Age diversity in the workplace is growing and will continue to do so,” says Mr Patrick. “However to bridge this gap it’s vital that business leaders understand the generational challenges and build strategies to address the competing needs of retaining the value of mature workers versus helping younger workers access opportunities.” 

In technology we trust: Technology disruption is creating opportunity as it collides with low economic growth, with 94% of those surveyed saying the impacts of technology have been positive for growth or productivity within their industry or company. 

Opportunities lie in planning for a world where people will be free to focus on more complex and creative work while technology takes care of more repetitive or high-volume tasks. Already, we are moving toward an augmented workforce: individuals and groups of individuals that share tasks with artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and big data. Digital is also changing the way organisations connect with suppliers and partners – in some areas, at lightning speed. 

The Paradox of Agile: Only 26% of the Australian organisations surveyed consider their business a leader in workforce agility within their industry. Strategy itself is changing as leaders seek to navigate paradoxical tensions to meet multiple, divergent demands. 

Mr Patrick noted that while there is a need to pursue extreme short-term agility and flexibility, leaders need to also be more long-term in their thinking, to have a more secure bedrock upon which agility can thrive. 

“Social, political and economic forces are combining to shape a world that is impossible to predict. It’s exciting, but also extremely challenging. The goal for businesses is to react quickly in ways that give them best position to take advantage of the growth that lies in the new world ahead,” he says. 

Fault Lines shares insights from business and HR leaders across Australia. The report assesses the forces of change: Low Economic Growth, Technology Disruption, Living Longer and Global Connectedness. By studying the pressure points where these forces meet, Mercer is giving leaders an opportunity to understand the multi-directional set of challenges they now face, and how to be strategically dynamic in solving them. 

Mercer’s new Fault Lines report contains recommendations for business and HR leaders across 9 topics and is available for download from


About Mercer

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organisations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Across the Pacific, organisations look to Mercer for global insights, thought leadership and product innovation to help transform and grow their businesses. 

Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit