Leading from the Front: How to Prepare for the Future of Work

The past few years have revolutionized the way we work. Zoom meetings and hybrid work have become commonplace, while the nature of jobs is evolving rapidly, leading to significant talent gaps. And now with the rise of generative AI paving the way for unprecedented changes in the workplace, it’s more evident than ever that the future of work will look very different from what we know today. So as a leader, how can you ensure you’re preparing your organization for the future of work?

Be Transparent About Future of Work Challenges

In the face of tech advancement and adoption, many workers are concerned that they don’t have the requisite skills for jobs of the future. While it’s natural to want to reassure employees and minimize these concerns, it is better to be honest and transparent. This way, you can better support employees and prepare them to accept upcoming changes.

Only a minor proportion (15%) of employees believe that their organization openly shares its challenges. As a leader, you can provide a rough trajectory of a particular job so that workers can make an informed decision as to how they can take action to prepare themselves for the future.

Invest Heavily In Upskilling Your Workforce

Job security based on one skillset or one degree is long behind us. Technological innovation — both in terms of employment and education — has ushered in an era of constant learning, reskilling and upskilling. To ensure their workforce doesn’t become obsolete, leaders should invest in helping people upskill. They can begin by involving themselves in learning initiatives by helping design skill-specific curriculums for different departments under them.

Facilitating internal mobility can be a great way to encourage employees to upskill and plug talent gaps. Allowing internal mobility means giving employees the flexibility to apply to different positions within the organization, or taking on stretch projects within the company. This helps employees learn new skills and competencies that can be applied to their current or future roles.

Cultivate A Human-Centered Approach to Leadership

With the breakneck speed at which workplaces are evolving, stress related to change has also skyrocketed. In the absence of empathetic leaders, employees are more likely to become dissatisfied, disengaged, or even leave an organization. Showing empathy as employees tackle change is imperative. Think of employees, not as workers on a payroll, but individuals striving to give their best while making a life for themselves.

As you do this, you make your work environment more human-centric. Not only is this arguably the responsible thing to do, but it’s also the right thing for your organization’s outcomes. A human-centric environment delivers better results in terms of productivity, lower change fatigue, and better employee retention. Employers can create a better work environment by considering the holistic needs of their employees. This involves actively listening to their feedback and concerns, and making genuine efforts to address them as much as possible.

Prioritize the People Side of Change in Digital Transformation

Over 89% of businesses have either adopted, or are planning to adopt a digital-first business strategy. However, these initiatives often face roadblocks. Adopting tech-oriented, advanced processes might evoke a resistance to change. This resistance can stem from a deep-seated fear of losing jobs to automation, or perhaps, feeling that the new processes do not simplify the lives of the workers.

To overcome these challenges, companies must proactively develop strategies to support their people during their digital transformations. This means taking a holistic approach that considers not just the technology, but the impact on employees and their day-to-day work. Involve employees in the digital transformation from day 1, seeking their inputs and feedback on new processes and tools.

Also, identify potential pain points in its day-to-day operations and try to get ahead of those. This could involve investing in upskilling programs or providing additional support to help them adjust to new ways of working. Lastly, fostering an innovative work environment can encourage employees to take calculated risks and be open minded about new ideas.

By keeping these key strategies in mind, you can ensure your organization is prepared for the future of work and is equipped to thrive among change and uncertainty.