Financial services firms are swimming in a sea of change—a digital environment driven by new technology, approaches and customer expectations, and disruptive new competitors. To build and nurture the agile, adaptive workforce these organizations need to succeed, they must create the right work environment and culture, and provide the right support. At AMP’s 2019 Amplify Innovation Festival, the Accenture team unpacked the ‘how’ of it, looking at the new tools and talent strategies emerging to address this growing challenge.

Amplify, Australia’s annual innovation and ideas festival held in early June, is a platform from which some of the world’s boldest thinkers explore technology, thought leadership and the customer experience. Accenture presented a Fast Track session on one of the most topical issues for FS firms at this time—how to create an engaged and productive workforce that can support transformation and drive business growth.

The answer is multi-faceted.

It reaches across four focus areas:

  • The use of new technologies to enable and augment a digital-capable workforce;
  • Intelligent (and ethical) use of workforce data;
  • The creation of an inclusive, diverse and equitable work environment and culture;
  • Embracing new ways of working.

The Accenture team—comprising Sarah Kruger, Bec McConnochie, Chris Erickson and myself—delved into each of these themes in lively panel discussions.

Accenture’s Chris Erickson, Sarah Kruger, Andrew Woolf and Bec McConnochie onstage at Amplify 2019.

Human + AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already here. While it’s replacing workers in some aspects, it is also amplifying human skills, driving productivity gains previously not possible, and creating new jobs. Our research shows that very few organizations are rising to the reskilling challenge—the effort required to enable people to work with, and better leverage AI.

By 2030, Accenture estimates, AI could replace 47 percent of current jobs. But, while 74 percent of global executives plan to use AI to automate tasks in the next three years, only 3 percent intend to significantly increase their investment in training over that period. This is a problem because it’s not technology alone that will create advantage; companies will achieve the largest boosts in performance when humans (with their creativity, improvisation, dexterity, judgment, and social and leadership abilities) and machines (with their speed, accuracy, predictive capabilities, and scalability) work together.

When businesses recognize the relative strengths of each, they can improve the effectiveness and motivation of their employees at the same time that they boost their top and bottom lines. But to unlock the value of AI and analytics across the workforce, organizations will need to reassess tasks and skills (not jobs), create new roles, map skills to new roles, and refine talent sourcing models.

Key steps to pivot the FS workforce for AI advantage:

  • Align the workforce to new business models. Develop a clear distinction between the things that humans do best and those that machines do best. Then shift the purpose of your workforce to best support your customer value proposition.
  • Recognize the business case. Don’t simply harvest efficiencies to benefit the bottom line; turn them into investments in the future workforce that will propel new business models.
  • Organize for agility. As people do less repetitive work and instead participate in a series of project teams, they must be given more autonomy and decision-making power.

For more on how FS can gear its workforce to leverage AI, read my blog series on the topic, or these two posts: Four steps to pivot the FS workforce for AI advantage, and ‘New-skill’ the FS workforce for AI now. For more insight into the impact of AI in the banking and insurance sectors, read the Future Workforce Survey for Insurance and the Future Workforce Survey for Banking.

Trust in data

Workforce data can help create a workforce that is more motivated, engaged and productive. But employers will need to use it in a responsible and ethical way, earning the trust of employees and so permission to use this data.

With a better understanding of employee performance, drivers and gaps, organizations can respond in ‘moments that matter’ to improve the employee experience; improve fairness in pay, promotion and appraisal decisions; personalize learning and development opportunities; place the right people in the right roles; and improve organizational agility and speed. That can deliver competitive advantage.

Three principles to think about when capturing data from your employees are:

  • Give control to gain trust: Empower people with greater control of their own data. Trust accelerates the flow of data.
  • Share responsibility. Share benefits to maintain trust. Airbus has, for example, developed a proof of concept using blockchain that lets pilots share their verified pilot-training certificates with airlines. This eliminates the time-consuming cross-checking process and makes it easier for pilots to find jobs.
  • Elevate people. Use technology responsibly, to open opportunities, reduce bias and grow people (e.g., use data to improve how teams work or to personalize training, rather than for surveillance).

For more on this issue, read my recent post Gaining value by growing trust, and Accenture’s report Decoding Organizational DNA: Trust, Data, and Unlocking Value in the Digital Workplace.

Get to equal. It drives innovation.

To remain relevant and competitive in the face of constant disruption, companies must innovate continuously, creating new markets, experiences, products, services, content and processes. That takes talent and new, digital-era skills, as well as the ability to innovate. Accenture’s research shows that diversity and a culture of equality are powerful multipliers of innovation and growth.

Accenture’s research shows that diversity and a culture of equality are
powerful multipliers of innovation and growth.

A culture of equality is built on three pillars:

  • An empowering environment—one that trusts employees, respects individuals and offers freedom to be creative and to train and work flexibly.
  • Bold leadership—a diverse leadership team that sets, shares and measures equality targets openly.
  • Comprehensive action—policies and practices that are family-friendly, support all genders and are bias-free in attracting and retaining people.

You can read more about this in Accenture’s 2019 Getting to Equal research. And do click through to Sarah Kruger’s The Ultimate Guide to Gender Parity 2019 edition.

New ways of working

Embracing new ways of working will help create an engaged and productive digital workforce.

Consider these key areas:

  • Reconfigure leadership DNA to meet digital demands. Today, leaders must be able to experiment, inspire, work across boundaries, and adapt to constant change.
  • Innovate for results. Innovation requires people who are willing to challenge norms. Create safe spaces that empower employees to experiment and take smart risks. To unlock innovation, cultivate diversity and a culture of belonging and inclusiveness. And to drive innovation, instil a thirst for continuous learning.
  • Truly human. Foster an environment that helps people be their whole self (body, mind, heart and soul) so that they can be their best self, professionally and personally.

Accenture is a proud Amplify Industry Partner. We are working with a number of FS organizations to transform and to ready their workforces for digital. We are keen to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us discuss your experiences and the challenges you are facing.

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