Putting People First in the Digital Workplace - Future of Work Part 3

Posted on: January 20, 2015 by

The growing numbers of millennials in the workforce are setting new and high technological expectations of their employers. Almost three quarters expect to be able to modify and customize their work computer, and a third would choose social media freedom and device flexibility over a higher salary. So how will this affect talent in the future of work? Putting people first should be a given, but the digital workplace brings new challenges, three of which we discuss here.

Identifying digital talent

To be successful in the digital age, companies will require different skills from their employees, and need to adapt their workforce planning and development strategies to ensure they’re recruiting and training for these skills. We’re talking digital and transferable skills such as computational thinking, virtual collaboration and social intelligence. It's about having the capability to make sense of large amounts of data and connect with others in meaningful ways who may have different mindsets and ethics.

With new communication technologies and collaboration platforms allowing for anywhere, anytime working and increasingly global teams, virtual collaboration in particular will be a deciding factor for business success.

Updating the ‘bricks and mortar’ perception

This is what companies often struggle with; balancing the external perception of the business with the expectations of young talent when looking to join a firm. Having the coolest technology and fun workspaces are important factors for attracting young talent. We can see from CES earlier this year that businesses are investing in trendy, new consumer technologies, with the Internet of Things (IoT), or rather Internet of Everything being a big hit. The challenge for companies is staying on top of these consumer trends and technologies to attract the right people. At the same time this needs to be balanced with security and regulatory obligations, so people still have the freedom and flexibility to work in the way they want.

Sustaining and developing talent

Once people arrive in a business, talent can ‘age’ quickly, so training and support relating to generational differences and new ways of working will be needed. With virtual collaboration for example being something that will significantly impact businesses in future, training employees to lead, engage and motivate dispersed groups in virtual communities will be crucial.

It’s not just the newbies who require support. As a result of the continued exposure and participation of millennials in the workforce and people working longer, we will see a broader generational mix. Reverse mentoring, whereby the younger generation helps train and develop the older generation, and consideration of different mind-sets and ethics will be key to a productive and happy workforce. This is a program we’ve started at Atos and has been very valuable to both parties.

So, there are many challenges to overcome, but in challenge lies opportunity. HR can make a real difference by communicating with employees, ensuring they are kept mentally challenged, but also working more closely with IT to inform how much investment should be made to pilot new technologies. It’s about having a different mind-set, and understanding businesses have to constantly improve, develop systems that are forward-thinking and provide flexibility for an increasingly mobile and remote workforce.

James McMahon, Global Domain Director, Digital Workplace Services, Atos John Minnick, Senior Director, Global STeP Team, Atos

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