Financial services providers globally are starting to realize how much digital disruption impacts work culture. In my previous blog post, I introduced the concept of an adaptive workforce—one of the five key trends identified in the 2016 Accenture Technology Vision. There’s been a fundamental shift in how we think about work and the employee experience. An adaptive workforce can easily, rapidly and effectively respond to change; it is a new type of workforce that is more available on demand. In this post I’ll take a closer look at four key industry trends shaping the adaptive workforce:

Key trend 1: How work is organized

Accenture predicts that by 2050, 45 percent of workers will be contractors. Employees are aware of the rapid speed at which work is changing, and 78 percent of workers are worried that they will not be able to keep up with the rise of new technology to remain effective. While in the past work was done almost exclusively on site, today work performed via online labor platforms is valued at $5 billion. Accenture research further shows that technology has made us become five times more productive than we were in 1972.

Key trend 2: How work is performed 

Analytical and digital tools help employees to organize and manage their work better. Jira, for example, is a project tracking software application that helps teams to become more agile. Another example is AI for wealth managers: robots do the administrative work which gives people space and time to focus on the core competency of advice. Digital skills have become basic requirements for most job applicants; so much so that 43 percent of business leaders say that a lack of digital skills is a key barrier to transformation. Employees believe digital enriches and augments work. They’re upbeat about the potential advancements, particularly in terms of innovation (70 percent), agility (69 percent) and productivity (69 percent).

Key trend 3: The employee experience and who performs the work

Eighty-two percent of employees expect that digital technology will change their work experience in the next three years. Accenture predicts that digital natives—people who grew up during the digital revolution—will have 20 different jobs and five different careers in their lifetimes. Compare this trend to generations of the past, who tended to work at the same job for their entire lives, and we will see how much the employee experience has changed. By 2020, 46 percent of the workforce will consist of millennials. Millennials no longer focus on the idea of a career; in a gig economy, turnover figures for millennials are twice as high as for any other generation.

Key trend 4: How work is led and managed

With rapid transformation in the workforce comes the inevitable conflict of expectations between management and employees. Accenture research found that only one in eight employees think that managers support creativity and innovation; only 34 percent of executives say they are equipped to lead a more diverse workforce. On the other hand, 92 percent of executives say that the challenges they face now are more complex than they were five years ago.

Forward-thinking employers use analytics and digital work-performance measurement tools to evaluate how people work, to incentivize the workforce and to enable more effective communication between employers and employees. Managers who can show their workforce a visual representation of their efforts and achievements over a period of time, for example by using Google analytics to show how many times unique browsers visit and use their website, can really inspire them to reach their targets. The workers, in turn, are more able to see the bigger picture and to visualize what the company as a whole is working towards.

The road to a more adaptive workforce

What these trends undoubtedly show is that the only constant is change; the workforce of tomorrow will soon hardly be recognizable to someone who entered the labor market a mere decade ago. Accenture research further found that:

  • 35 percent of jobs will be automated in the next 10 to 20 years; and
  • The cost of robots is up to 80 percent less than human labor.

In this blog post, I took a closer look at the four key industry trends shaping the adaptive workforce. In my next post, I’ll expand on these trends and share insight into how Accenture is embracing an adaptive workforce.

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