What Leaders Need to Know about the Future of Work - CLOE's 52 Weeks of Leadership
- Hello everyone, and welcome to 52 Weeks of Leadership presented by UB Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. My name is Molly Anderson, and we are pleased to present this series to you which has been sponsored by Geico. And as you know, we've been presenting this series every Monday for the entire year of 2021.
If there's an episode that you wanna go back and see, they're on our website and we've even added some bonus episodes, so please take a look at that. I also wanted to mention to you, as part of CLOE, we have an annual conference. This year's conference on June 3rd will feature best-selling author Daniel Pink, as well as 30 workshops around leadership and the future of leadership changing the way we live and work. We have a special registration rate of 199 for anyone who registers before April 30th, so please take advantage of that. And now the reason we're all here.
We are delighted to have with us Courtney Walsh, who is our Assistant Dean of Executive and Professional Development in UB School of Management. And she's here to talk about what leaders need to know about the future of work, which is especially important now with the year we've had with all the changes taking place around the world and in organizations. She is so well-prepared to talk about this with all of her experience working in executive education for non-professional, non-credit for professionals and executives. She's also leading our micro-credential programs. Courtney is a former head of our executive and professional MBA program. She initiated a number of international business programs throughout Asia, Europe, and South America, and she's even taught emotional intelligence to over 500 professionals through her background in the School of Management.
So, without further ado, I wanna introduce Courtney Walsh. - Thanks, Molly, and welcome to everybody that's here after a holiday weekend. I'm gonna start by saying that this topic, what leaders to know about the future and future of work is definitely what Jim Collins would call BHAG.
It's a big, hairy, audacious goal to be talking about something this large. But since we at UB are bold, we're gonna go ahead and try to cover this in the next 20 minutes or so. So, here's our outline. I'm gonna introduce you to findings from a number of just-released research studies. They're hot off the press, and they're about the state of work in both the United States as well as the world. And then I'm gonna specifically focus on one of the challenges that we're facing as a result of this research and the findings that we have, and that's the need to shift from focusing on shareholder value to stakeholder value.
Or more plainly stated, it's the need to shift from focusing on the work people do to viewing workers as human capital, something each of us can address as individuals, as managers, and certainly as leaders. As I mentioned, today's presentation draws on a lot of resources and I've added links to all of these resources on a resource slide at the end of the presentation. Before I ask for your questions, and feel free to type them into the chat as you're thinking of them, I'll share a PDF of today's slide with you in the chat box.
All you'll have to do is click on that PDF. You'll have copies of each of the slides as well as hotlinks to all of the resources that I'm gonna be sharing. So, let's begin. Every two years, the World Economic Forum produces a report titled "The Future of Jobs". In 2018, the report focused on the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That includes things like robotics, artificial intelligence, digitization, the Internet of Things is a phrase you'll hear now and again.
The impact for some workers of this means that their jobs are gonna become obsolete and that they will need to switch fields and do a lot of reskilling. For other workers, the impact will require reskilling or upskilling to keep up with the technological changes in their jobs. We've seen this shift ourselves with government training programs and even corporate programs focused on attracting and training specific types of talent.
However, in October of 2020, just a few months ago when this year's research study was finalized, it was clear that the pandemic and the resulting recession had accelerated the shift. In fact, the question changed from, "Should we use technology or people "to address a particular problem or challenge?" Now, the question is, "How do we use technology to enable people "to become better solution makers "and to get the focus that we want "on our big, audacious goals?" So, now what's used to be, not just what used to be accomplished, okay? This is about making things even bigger and better by bringing together people and technology. In fact, even the World Economic Forum realized it could no longer wait two years to provide updates, so now they're gonna be providing every few months yet another update on this information because it's just becoming so out of date so fast. So, that's something that I suggest you keep your eye on. There's definitely a sense of urgency in the new research, and there's good reason for that. Up to 2020, our economy was being driven by globalization and digitization.
But it's now being driven by a third goal, and that's dispersion. Dispersion is only possible because of the globalization and digitization, and we see dispersion all the time. We see it when people are in an organization, some processes are leapfrogging traditional points of distribution to create value. But we've certainly seen this in the past, but we're gonna see it much more frequently now, and we already have since the pandemic began. After more than a year of forced acceptance for distancing and remote services, there's now a permanent change in our behavior. Every business sector has experienced this, and the sectors that are seeing the greatest reallocation of stakeholder value are sectors like healthcare were leapfrogging hospitals.
Commercial real estate and other commercial areas were no longer using headquarters the way we were. And even education, campuses have become a difficult place and finances have become difficult because people aren't even on campuses. So, let's talk about where we're at right now before we dive into the future some more. With a loss of jobs, hours, and income due to the pandemic, the financial insecurity is enormous. If you look at the figure by education, you would see that about 55% of workers with less than a bachelor's degree were negatively impacted by the pandemic. And if you have a bachelor's degree or more, 45% of people lost jobs, hours, and/or income.
In the past, retail hospitality jobs were a significant percentage of where youth entered the workforce, and 38% of those youth used retail and hospitality to leap into industries that they stayed in later on. Now without those jobs temporarily, and many of them are permanently gone, youth will have to find a new way to leapfrog forward to good-paying jobs without that training or experience. And they may have to find another way to obtain it, but that's gonna be difficult to do. Next, when it comes to believing that more education can help workers get a better job, it's no surprise that the most educated people, people with a graduate degree or more, about 60% of them believe that even more education or training will help them get that next best job. But for people with a bachelor's degree or less, only about 45% of them believe that there's training or education that can help improve their work prospects. If you look at the workforce by age, you can see something striking.
Workers 35 to 54 have the strongest belief that education and training will get them a good job, but only 38% of workers over 55 and even less, 27%, of workers over 65 think that any amount of training or education will help them get a good job. That's actually quite striking, given that people need to work a lot longer than maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and makes you wonder how folks are gonna possibly keep up to date on what's new and skilling if, when over 55, they're very, very less interested in learning. We know the ability to work remotely varies significantly by industry, but what's quite surprising is that even in a country like the United States, a relatively wealthy country compared to other countries around the world. If you look at just across all industries, 60% at least of our workers are unable to fully work remotely. Now, what's interesting about that is HR professionals were asked to estimate within each of their own companies the percentage of workers that, in their company, could work remotely. And they estimated 10% higher than was actually a possibility.
So, that optimism creates a gap and a misunderstanding of workers for today. As we look to the future, I'm gonna give you a couple of minutes to take a look at this slide and see the things that companies are really gonna be expecting happen in the workforce in the very near future. These things were sped up significantly by what's happened in the past year and a half. So, this is a continuation of a trend, but the statistics are much higher than you would have expected if you'd looked two years ago.
And when you look at the kinds of things that are on this list and what we'll need to do to accomplish these goals, you see a list of things that really involve the workers themselves. And in fact, employers are really looking at these as barriers, not so much as things that need to get done. But they see huge problems with being able to get them done even though they know they're the most critical. So, even though the technology is critical, without the human capital, we actually can't accomplish any of this. In 2020-21 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, executives identified the ability of their people to adapt, to reskill, and assume new roles as the top-ranked items to navigate future disruptions with 72% of these executives selecting that as the most important or second most important factor for the future.
Unfortunately, only 17% of the executives actually saw that they're ready, they said that their workers were ready to adopt, adapt, reskill, or assume new roles. So, 72% said it was necessary and important and only 17% thought their workforce was ready and could do it. On average, respondents to the "Future of Jobs" survey estimated that around 40% of workers would require reskilling of six months or less. And you can see that on the right side of your screen. That figure is higher for workers in the consumer industry and in health and healthcare industries, where employers are likely to offer shorter learning sessions, but over a longer period of time.
The share of workers who can be reskilled within six months is lower in the financial services and energy sectors, where employers expect that workers will need to spend time-intensive time reskilling, so therefore, it'll be a little bit shorter. The chart on the left shows the top skills and skills groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead-up to 2025. These include groups such as critical thinking, analysis, as well as problem solving. These things have stayed at the top of the agenda with year over year consistency. Newly emerging this year, however, are skills in self-management, such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility. The Strada Center for Education Consumer Insights quickly jumped into research at the very beginning of the pandemic, and has continued to update it weekly since then and to this day.
They measure consumer sentiment on a number of variables about work, the economy, and the future. I'm showing you this difficult-to-read slide for a couple of reasons. One reason is that there is a link for many different charts, including this one, in the resources at the end of the package.
On that webpage, you can graphically slice the data in any number of ways live right in front of you. You can do it by age, by education, by race, by gender. And so, for those of you who have specific interests and needs, you can go there and do it immediately and take advantage of this research that literally is hot off the press. Secondly, I wanted to point out the significant challenges workers face when they want to upskill.
This particular slide shows workers' responses to the question, "How challenging would each of the following items "be for you personally in pursuing education or training?" This particular slide shows data for minority workers who are 25 to 54 and have at least a bachelor's degree. There's a slight variation if you look at race and age, not so much for gender. And those variations are things like whether or not you're educated, but if you're a minority worker, you'll have a greater concern about the ability to balance work and childcare and a greater concern for transportation. If you're white, you have a greater concern about the cost of books and materials. But truly, the differences are not that significant.
And what's most striking is how big the challenge is for individuals to think about reskilling or upskilling. You can easily see if these things are ignored, retraining won't be possible at the scale or the pace that organizations will need. Instead, organizations will need to consider other things. And although we see all of these things in the shifts were small, what's important is for governments as well as organizations to pay significant attention to them, both when they're scheduling, funding, and structuring these kinds of things. So, what we really need to focus on is something bigger, and that is well-being of workers. And that needs to be the top of what we think about in order get to human capital.
We've all heard the term work-life balance a thousand times. We've all tried it, struggled with it, sometimes achieved it. But that has really, that term has disappeared in all the literature this year and a new term has come about, and that term is well-being. And it's being used regularly, and you should expect to see it all over the place. Worker well-being can mean a lot of things.
And I imagine people asking, "Well, exactly what does that include?" And it includes things like workers having control over the work they do and how they do it. So, maybe their day is flexed some. Maybe they jump in on a project that they have a particular talent for that maybe in the past wasn't part of what they did.
But it also includes mental and physical support. So, when I looked at a study where HR professionals were asked two years ago if they provided well-being concerns and support for their employees, and their response was predominantly yes, they did. When executives were asked the same question, executives said, "No, that's not something HR does."
So, when we asked executives or HR professionals what that meant, what was well-being, they answered with things like, "We have an EAP service for our employees." And this year when they responded that they provide well-being support for workers, examples were things like, "We purchased an ergonomic chair for employees "to work at home with and be more comfortable." Certainly a great thing for workers to have, but this is not at all the breadth and the depth of what is meant by worker well-being.
Beyond reskilling, the Deloitte 2021 Global Human Capital Trends survey showed that executives are shifting their focus away from work optimization and redesign towards something called reimagination. Reimagination uses both technology and the way people work in order to transform things. This past year, 61% of executives said that they would focus more on reimagining work as they move forward. And last year, it was only 29%. So, a huge difference. What they really want is for the use of technology to be partnered with people so that new outcomes and new aspirations are possible.
The severity and scale of the pandemic forced organizations to define what was essential for customers, stakeholders, and shareholders. And they had to do so under great uncertainty. New teams were formed, utilized certain new processes. They reconfigured many things, they grew, and they charged up an organization's ability to really pivot to the new demanding times.
But the super teams that we're talking about here are once again teams of people who bring together not just the workers, but the technology to combine it to create new value. So, you're starting to see a theme here of people along with technology, not one or the other. The new normal must acknowledge disruption is here to stay.
Therefore, organizations need to constantly reassess and reimagine their work, their workforce, and workforce strategies. This calls for leaders to fundamentally shift their organizational goals and workforce strategies. Data and insights is the lens that's wide enough to measure progress against economic and societal goals exists. So, that measurement has to be well in advance with up-to-date data, but it also has to be wide enough to consider all of the things that we want to accomplish societally as well as economically. And in times when we don't do that planning and we act on the fly, as we had to in some instances in the pandemic, we end up giving back some of the goals that we had had.
We're not able to hire as strategically because we're just moving people around in the organization that we had, and so on and so forth. And finally, there's this urge to say that re-architecting our work is something that HR should be focused on. And HR can't do it by themselves. It really requires the involvement of leadership, and again, integration of technology.
So, you're seeing this theme of technology with people making things completely different, not just trying to recreate what was there before. The route to unlocking the value of this human potential in tandem with profitability is to employ a good job strategy in order to halt the erosion of wages, making work more meaningful and purposeful, expanding employees' sense of growth and achievement, promoting and developing talent on the basis of merit, and proactively design against racial, gender, and other biases. So, by this focus on well-being and looking at this new way of working with these five trends, you're gonna be able to do that. This slide, I think, introduces one of the disconnects that we are currently in.
This study was just done by Deloitte, and it asks both executives and individual workers, "What's the most important thing to be able "to achieve that transformed work "that we're focused on accomplishing?" And you can see the list and many of the same things exist. But worker well-being and improving that is significantly more important to workers than it is to executives. And in order to achieve that transformation, workers are going to have to have their full environments under control in order to succeed. So, this coming together of these two aligning, I guess you would say, of these two sets of ranks will be very important as we move forward. There are a few specific challenges that still remain.
Transitioning from one industry to another rather than advancing in a more linear way from role to role within a specific field is really a problem that has frustrated job seekers for some time. And truthfully, it frustrates organizations and governments as well. The challenge is, hiring managers typically demand that workers demonstrate the exact skills and work experience required to do the job that you're applying for. They're focused on lateral use of skills rather than on agility and resilience. The challenge with that is that people hired to do the exact same role are either going to become frustrated or they're not going to be innovative lifelong learners that you need for the challenges that were quickly gonna come down the road. When it comes to employers providing workers with training opportunities for reskilling and upskilling, in contrast to previous years, employers are now expecting more than ever that they are gonna lean on informal training as opposed to formal learning.
In the "Future of Jobs" survey, 94% of business leaders report that they expect the employees to pick up new skills on the job. This is a sharp uptick from 65% in 2018. So, at the same time as businesses executives are saying that reskilling and upskilling is the most critical thing to transforming their organizations, they're also saying that they're expecting their employees to take it upon themselves to do that. In this case, I don't think it's an either/or. I think both things are what executives think have to happen, and I would agree with them. Employers are far more likely now to consider continuous training as a responsibility of the worker.
And as we discussed, not all workers are interested in training. But even if we assume for a moment that everyone is interested in upskilling and all employers are very supportive, finding the right training is exceptionally difficult. It's only recently that funding has been dedicated to aggregating training in a way that people can, that software allows people to actually bring all of the absolute right opportunities to bear for the right types of learners. More importantly, other than formal education and training programs, there aren't easy ways to endorse the acquisition of skills into neat packages that are transferable between industries and that emphasize the skills employees have.
Consider this. Before the pandemic, so even before the pandemic, a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that 71 million low-income workers, low-wage workers without degrees but with abilities to perform higher-wage work who were consistently were overlooked by employers on a day to day basis. 71 million people, but no way to really showcase those skills they had. Unlike in 2018 in our last recession, we now have the way to map trajectories for people who have successfully gone from one industry to another. And we can see the skills that are particularly important that helped them get from one place to another.
So, there are now maps available to help people move and skills out there if we can find a way to match the skills with the people who need them. Finally, we talked about the loss of the on-ramp for workers' youth through hospitality and retail. Well, 38% of those workers used hospitality and retail to move on to other industries.
It was their on-ramp to the working professions. They're also gonna need to be moved and upskilled in another way, and probably need to leapfrog in order to get a good job. When talking about how to re-architect jobs and how to create jobs where workers have incredible well-being, here are a few of the questions that you might be able to ask yourself, your team managers, and your organizations. Jobs are changing all the time, but are we changing the people in the job? Are we reassessing the skills people have for the job that's today versus 10 years ago, or even two years ago? Are workers really going to be ready and how are we going to get them ready? And are we going to need to do readiness preparation for people who aren't even working for us yet and focus in on some of the community practices that we actually see here in Western New York right now around technology? Are we ready to adapt as efficiently and quickly as possible, be agile about it, and understand that change is going to be the constant as we move forward? And are our leaders as ready for change as they need to be? In a recent study, it was also interesting that leaders thought that they had handled the pandemic and the challenges with the pandemic quite well. But when the same questions were asked of the HR professionals and they were asked if the leaders had done well, HR professionals rated them at least 10 points lower on most scales.
So, there's often a disconnect between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. And it's important to know both sides and that there's significant room for growth not only for the average worker, but for the managers and the leaders themselves. So, as promised, a very dense list of resources.
And there are a couple that I would particularly point out if you, in fact, are really into the five forces that I talked about in changing the workforce. That would be reimagination, super teams, designing well-being, growing the workforce, and accelerating rearchitecting. And that would be the number eight Deloitte piece at the bottom. A great deal of the other information I shared with you today came from, number one, the World Economic Forum, which I mentioned a number of times, as well as number two and three from Harvard and McKinsey. But all of these studies were actually used and I think all of them would be helpful for those of you that may have curiosity in a particular area. So, now I'm gonna stop and open it up for questions.
And before I do that, I'm actually going to hit send on chat so that you have the PDF file with you. - [Molly] Well, thank you, Courtney. Excellent job. It's such a fascinating topic, so critical to all of us.
It sounds like time will be of the essence for leaders to adapt and prepare reskilling programs. Can you share a little bit about some of the micro-credential digital badging that you have available in school management? - Absolutely. So, you heard me talk about training and education. There's a whole component. Actually, we're gonna do a much longer version of this presentation during the conference that is actually showing on your screen right now.
But there's a whole subset on how long and specifically what types of education people want. And they're looking for short, very job-specific things. And so, the School of Management is focusing on creating micro-credentials that will stand alone and help somebody in a current job. One example would be our data analytics credentials. We have a beginning and intermediate version. We also have coming up a master's program that will allow you to build credentials in entrepreneurship for people who come from the life sciences.
That would be an example of where you can stack one thing on top of each other in order to ultimately, if you're interested, get a master's degree. We have a whole host of other things, and I would encourage you to go to our website, which I will type into the chat right now so that you can take a look. - [Molly] Thanks, Courtney.
While you're doing that, we have a question from Rick Steinberg asking how you might explain why a lower percentage for those age 55 and up believe education and training will get them a good job. They're such a critical part of the workforce. Is it that they're less interested, tired of working, looking forward to retiring, or do they expect the effect of age discrimination will take hold, and they won't be offered opportunities or something else? - I certainly don't know for sure the answer to that and the research doesn't provide it.
I would be surprised if people are, as they responded individually, thought that they would be across the board part of age discrimination, although we know it's quite prevalent. I'm more leaning towards the fact that I think they either believe that they won't need the training or that they could be retiring. But the reality is we know that age 55 to 65 people are not gonna be retiring. And after yet another recession, people will likely try to be working well into their 60s. - [Molly] We have a comment from Michael about the slide indicating that 60% are unable to work remotely.
He said he believes that firms have successfully moved to remote work, especially for information workers, and will continue implementing remote work as the economy improves and displaced workers are called back. His belief stems from the wide availability of cloud computing, high speed internet connections, and information technology tools, example, the AI and the cloud. Do you agree? Why or why not? - I agree that great progress has been made and I agree that in certain industries, working from home is completely possible. However, it's not just the technology that needs to be there in order for working from home to be successful.
You have all of the well-being considerations that also have to be put into the mix. In addition to that, there are, the pandemic has really forced everyone to look at three types of workers. Those that are critical have to be there all the time. You know, the essential workers, if you will, those that have been displaced, and those that can continue to work from home. Unfortunately, that number, that 60% is a brand-new number.
It includes research right up to now. And it's just US data, which is, it's still kind of frightening that 60% of people even with all of the wonderful things that have happened that you're talking about, still can't completely work from home. - [Molly] Well, thank you Courtney. Again, excellent job. You've covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
I know I for one am gonna rewatch your presentation when it's up on the website and look forward to being part of our conference on June 3rd. So, thank you everyone for attending. And again, Courtney's files are up there.
I'll give you time to check them out or connect to her website for more information. Join us next week for Dr. Jim Lemoine. Thank you, everyone. - Thank you.