Mercer surveyed 400+ business executives from 37 countries and 20 industries to uncover the biggest disruptors to our future and what executives are planning on changing in the next two years.
The Future of Work
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and is fast becoming a workplace reality. Artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, drones, and wearables are rapidly integrating into the work environment. Technology is enabling us to stay connected and give real-time feedback more than ever before. At the same time, business models are adjusting to take advantage of contract or contingent workers, in part to address the talent scarcity challenge but also in response to what people say they want out of a job. These forces are changing the notion of what it means to be an “employee,” which has far-reaching implications and demands a re-think of how we prepare for the future.
In Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study 2017, we see the critical trends that are reshaping the world of work are colliding with the changing demographic profile of employees and shifting expectations of the work experience. However, despite an uncertain future, there is optimism in the air. The events of 2016 and early 2017 have set a course of change that brings the promise of more equity and transparency and more accountable decision making. An overarching theme of Empowerment permeates how business leaders, HR professionals, and employees are viewing the world of work, both today and in the future.
Redesigning the Organisation
Organisations are transforming structures and jobs with an eye towards the future, ensuring that the People agenda is not lost amid the drive for change. Leaders are driving an aggressive change agenda, with 93% of business executives planning to make a design change in their company within the next two years. This trend is consistent across all geographies and industries.
Executives globally recognise that stasis is a formidable enemy of business growth. They acknowledge that existing structures often impede, rather than accelerate, change and that the heavily layered organisation of yesteryear has proved a hindrance to the agility needed in today’s competitive markets.
Simpler, horizontal organisational structures
Vertical hierarchies are being replaced by simpler, more horizontal organizational structures. This change reflects a need for greater efficiency and lower costs, closer relationships with customers, and increased agility and innovation. Companies in different industries are going about this in different ways. Executives in the Auto, Energy, and Healthcare sectors are flattening their organisation structures, while those in Financial Services and Logistics are focused more on moving support functions to Shared Services. Consumer Goods organisations are also creating special units to handle project-based work.
There are interesting differences by geography as well. While greater efficiency is the number one driver of organisation design changes in the majority of the countries we studied (including US and UK), it is less of a focus for executives in Japan (who are committed to improving collaboration) and in Hong Kong (for whom innovation is paramount). The organisation in a “world is flat” universe pushes decision-making authority further down the chain, forcing employees to be more self-reliant and skilled enough to independently make day-to-day decisions. This requires a shift in how we support employees at different stages of readiness, career, engagement, and work status.
Employees want simplified approval chains
When asked in which areas their company should provide more support, simplified approval chains to enable quick decision making ranked third globally. This may reflect their company’s current challenges in this area, with only 15% of employees saying that their company excels at this today.
Want more global insights for your business? Download the full report of Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study.