In September the California Senate passed California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), also known as the “gig worker bill,” which will fundamentally change the status of the gig economy in the US’s biggest state by requiring companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees.
According to the bill, workers are classified as employees unless they are free to perform services without the control or direction of the company; they are performing tasks outside the usual course of the company’s business activities; or are customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
The key criteria for gig companies is the second one. As a result of AB5, gig economy workers classified as employees will be entitled to minimum wage, overtime payment and the right to unionise. However, gig workers with employee status won’t be able to choose when they work. Although the bill targets zero-hours employers such as Uber and Lyft, and many jobs such as doctors, lawyers, architects, private investigators and manicurists are exempt, the bill will also affect occupations that traditionally employ freelance workers.
Reporting in line with the new Pay Ratio Reporting regulation began this month. Ken Charman, CEO of UFlexReward – and former leader of the digital reward system development project at Unilever, which UFlexReward span out of – talked to Business Reporter about how digitalisation and real-time reward-tracking are simplifying and gradually honing the reporting process. “Most of the information used in pay-gap or executive pay ratio reporting inevitably involves some element of estimation”, he explained. “Normally it is done with the help of models in Excel. However, this method is prone to errors and is difficult to audit. In real time reward-tracking, however, rules are clearly recorded in the system, are auditable and deliver consistent results.”
In situations where data is sparse, such as in remote international locations, or activities where pay is sensitive to highly variable factors, all available information can be used to produce reasonable estimates. For example, a data source for hourly rates can be used with known total annual overtime and working patterns to produce estimates with very tight error margins. These estimates, in turn, can be reconciled with the actual figures retrospectively. By comparing estimates against actuals over time, the rules can be refined so the results become more accurate.
Adam Neumann, who was CEO of office-as-a-service company WeWork since its foundation in 2010, stepped down in September and also left the board of directors as part of a buyout deal with SoftBank. WeWork filed its IPO in August but then needed to shelve its plans to go public due to diminishing investor interest as a result of the company’s spiralling losses. Neumann remarked that his resignation was “in the best interest” of WeWork as he had been “a significant distraction” to the company’s IPO plans.
In November a WeWork shareholder took the company to court over the near-$1.7billion (£1.3billion) severance package approved for Neumann, accusing him and other WeWork directors of benefiting themselves at the expense of minority shareholders and that their actions “eviscerated” the value of WeWork’s stock and stock options.
Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank, who took over from Neumann as Executive Chairman, named Publicis Groupe chairman Maurice Levy interim chief marketing and communications officer. In November WeWork also confirmed a plan to lay off 2,400 employees in a bid to revamp the company.
For more on Neumann’s career, click here.
William Higham is one of the world’s leading futurists who helps organisations to understand how tomorrow’s smart consumers will think, feel, behave and how organisations can benefit from this commercially.
In collaboration with ergonomist Stephen Bowden, he was commissioned by Fellowes, a global manufacturer of office and technology products, to write a report on the long-term health of office-workers entitled The Work Colleague of the Future. The findings of the study were illustrated with “Emma”, whose deformities and ailments illustrating the hardships of future workers made headlines worldwide.
The report itself, meanwhile, shows how recent workplace trends such as increased time and workload pressures, open-plan layouts and too much screen time, are already negatively impacting workers’ health. The major culprit is sitting still, which can lead to not just musculoskeletal disorders and weaker limbs but also blood clots, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. “Our screen-filled, strip-lit, air-conditioned environments exacerbated by ‘sick building syndrome’ are contributing to growing rates of migraines, blurred vision and virus infections”, the report maintains. To read it, click here.
The rivalry between instant office messaging platforms Slack and Office Teams entered a new phase in November when Microsoft – which owns the latter – announced that it had garnered 20 million daily active users (DAU), leaving Slack well behind with the 12 million users it announced in September.
Although Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says he can see Teams hit 100 million users within a year, he is inclined to be more interested in actual user engagement than user metrics – highlighting the fact that Slack has more than five billion actions, and more than a billion mobile actions, per week. Microsoft has a long track record of migrating clients from one communication product to the next. It moved people from Lync to Skype for Business in 2015 and now it seems that it’s trying to move people from Skype to Teams. For more on Butterfield’s interesting career, click here.
The winners of the British Council of Offices (BCO) Awards were announced in October. London’s 2 Television Centre, housed in the BBC’s old HQ in White City, was celebrated as the best among the regional award winners, also taking home the Commercial Workplace award.
The Best of Corporate Workplace Award went to the CEF Offices in Janet Nash House, Meadowfield Industrial Estate, Durham, while the winner in the Test of Time category was PWC’s offices in the Terry Farrell-designed building above Charing Cross Station. The underlying concept of the refurbishment was to treat the building as if it was a business hotel. The dark entrance was opened up, and some of the excess of the original building pared back.
For the full list of winners, click here.
by Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
Mike Owens, Founder and CEO, Absorb Software
If the digital evolution has left you dizzy, you’re not alone. New technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics and 5G are emerging at such a furious clip your planning likely feels obsolete before you have a chance to gain alignment. While these disruptive forces will create 58 million new jobs over the next few years, these positions will require new skills the average worker has yet to master. The answer is to reskill and upskill to meet the workforce needs of the future.
Why companies are struggling
As companies confront the trends transforming the future of work, it’s increasingly clear that learning and development programmes have emerged as a critical component needed to drive business success. But despite recognising the urgent need for training, many organisations are struggling to establish the culture of continuous learning necessary to meet the needs of the modern organisation.
One key hurdle is that learners have difficulty finding time to train. Deloitte estimates the average employee can only dedicate 24 minutes per week to professional development. And even when learners of all stripes take training courses, they often lack the engagement needed to learn effectively. Adding to the challenge is the evolving ways in which staff are employed by businesses. The cost of hiring skilled talent, and the need for specialised skills, has driven organisations to meet employment needs through contractors and offshore companies. Gig economy workers add to the complexity that has created a far more diverse and distributed labour pool that still requires new knowledge and skills.
Training your enterprise ecosystem
When considering learning audiences, one must factor in the learning needs of non-employees as well. Corporate supply-chain partners, content sellers, association members and especially customers all need a seat at the learning table. If we must make strides to upskill our enterprise, then these external audiences must also come along for the ride if we are to truly elevate business performance. To create lasting change, we must create learning strategies that plan for training an organisation’s entire ecosystem.
A commitment to change: the need for a new approach
As business leaders, we are often on the front line of problem solving. We should ask ourselves what is needed to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of effective corporate learning. We now have before us the opportunity to create innovative learning cultures by investing in the right tools, setting the right priorities and seeing that our leadership teams carry that mantle as they interface with their teams. We’ve already witnessed nearly 200 CEOs at top companies such as Walmart, Google and Amazon pledge to invest more in employee training to develop the new skills essential for a rapidly changing world. But committing to training employees, partners, customers, and taking the right steps to provide it, are two entirely different things.
To thrive in the digital age, businesses must embrace a completely new paradigm for corporate learning. As the business world evolves, so must our approach to training and development. We must pivot away from antiquated thinking about learning, and instead implement programmes designed to promote learner excellence and growth for both today and the years to come.
Personalisation and relevance: the new training ingredients
What does today’s learning and development landscape look like? For one, it’s fast-paced, yet flexible, highly relevant and personalised. Learning experiences should be connected to the task at hand, in the workflow, seamlessly and transparently. Learning should become an effortless part of one’s day – throughout the day – occurring at the precise moment information is needed, and without delay. This makes training contextual, relevant and tailored to the individual. After all, there’s more than one way to work, so there should be more than one way to learn. Organisation and learner preferences vary as much as businesses do themselves.
How do we get there? By empowering efficient, customised learning that taps the latest technologies, tools and techniques. In doing so, every company can benefit. Blended learning takes on a whole new meaning. You can include individual learning experiences in new and dynamic ways, especially relevant for hands-on verticals such as healthcare and manufacturing, where training may require learners to demonstrate competency. This evolution in corporate education will result in an upskilled workforce ready to take on the evolving challenges it faces. It will likewise prep external enterprise audiences for the work, and world, they encounter.
We are living an information age where knowledge is power. To safeguard our success and prepare for tomorrow, we must put training at the fore and rethink how learning is delivered. Let technology become the secret weapon to your success. It’s hiding in plain sight.
Here we are again. Another new year but with the same old issues surrounding UK organisations. Efficiency and access to professional skills in the workforce continue to stifle productivity and cost the economy an estimated £18 billion annually. What’s more, CBI research confirms that profitability is falling at its fastest rate since 2012 – the worst since its surveys began.
We’ve seen this before, but we’ve also seen the answers before. Using technology to improve productivity isn’t a new idea. In fact, examples stretch as far back as 1854.
The New York and Erie Railroad Company, one of the biggest rail companies of the time, was failing to exploit new technology to address crippling operational issues. Inefficient and plagued with incidents that caused delays and wreaked havoc, the problem wasn’t a lack of information – the use of the telegraph provided a constant flow of data – it was how that information was communicated.
The answer lay in using the data to delegate decision making. Authority over day-to-day operations was assigned to local superintendents down the track who were closer to the key issues and therefore better placed to tackle inefficiencies. The result? An empowered workforce and improved productivity, simply by marrying technology and data together.
Now this isn’t just a nice story. Those exact principles are as true today as they were in 1854 – what worked then works now.
When combined, technology and data make decision-making faster and workers more effective. The inevitable improvement in quality of service then increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, thus boosting profitability and market value.
Our customers tell us that understanding how technology can solve their productivity problems and protect against skills shortages is the most valuable thing a supplier can help with.
Major vendors are often too big to get close to the specifics of the mid-market’s problems. That’s where companies such as ours come in to engage closely and help answer a multitude of questions such as:
How do we use tech to make better decisions?
Big data and analytics will continue to evolve to become central in decision making. By understanding the decisions customers want to make, we can work with them to implement the right mix of technologies. Intelligent use of cloud helps facilitate that decision making while simplifying data storage and analysis. Office 365 can then help with more effective collaboration. Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. If a business wants to make better decisions, it is going to need its own specific solution.
How can tech help our workers be more effective?
Mobile working can give a typical office worker an additional two to three hours’ productivity per week, and is becoming essential in attracting and retaining skilled workers. Today’s digital natives value cool, collaborative technology over security and pay, so the mobile technology you offer is now a key part of the decision to join, or remain with, your company.
How can we make sure technology helps improve performance and create a better place to work?
Don’t start with the tech. Start with your organisation. Our approach is to examine processes and uncover what’s holding an organisation and its people back. Then design a solution that delivers the outcomes needed. The more an organisation understands what it wants, the better the tech’s answer will be. We always advise customers to test potential solutions before adopting. Then, once deployed, it’s vital to help your workers adopt it.
How do we get the best deal?
Every organisation has cost constraints. It’s often assumed that going directly to vendors will elicit the best deal but it’s not always the case. It’s up to companies like us to make sure organisations are in the know.
It can be difficult for organisations to know how they should use technologies to their advantage. Some, having adopted new technologies, reckon they are gaining only 10 to 20 per cent of its potential value. What a waste!
Firms such as Daisy Corporate Services can help organisations become better buyers and users of technology, and it’s our mission to make this happen. Productivity is stagnating, and this will only be solved by organisations getting into the best shape possible. The future of our workforce hinges upon it.
For more information on Daisy Corporate Services visit dcs.tech.
Daisy Corporate Services (DCS)
The energy industry is adapting itself for a more sustainable future. But how can it adapt for women to excel?
The energy industry is the heartbeat of our modern world, and as it continues to propel economies, infrastructure and transport, never has so much been so dependent on one industry. The fourth industrial revolution is not only about furthering the needs of our economies, but also about ensuring sustainability and resilience of our people and our planet. From smarter engines to the role that is played by artificial intelligence, the energy sector is seeking to adapt itself for the future.
But as it makes leaps in capturing carbon, there is still something that continues to evade its grasp: gender equality. The energy industry ranks eighth out of nine industries surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in relation to gender diversity, being ahead of just construction. With only 22 per cent of its workforce female, it has a long way to go compared with health and social work (60 per cent) and education (55%).
The challenge increases with seniority, as the number of women in the workforce gradually decrease from 25 per cent to 17 per cent between middle management and senior leadership. And when scrutinising these figures further, we find that field work has even more to contend with, as the industry average being as low as 10 per cent.
Why does the industry face such challenges? For some, the answer is simply that the energy industry has always been male dominated and it will take a lifetime to change that.
But there are other factors that seem to make the energy industry an unappealing career choice. Globally, the proportion of girls in STEM education is only around 20 to 30 per cent, compared with their overall participation in tertiary education, which is on average between 50 to 60 per cent. With fewer women in the talent pool at the start, there are fewer at the end and so fewer for the energy industry to target for technical roles.
Additionally, the perception of the industry by both men and women is that it is male dominated. Coupled with the lack of female role models, the result is that women do not feel encouraged to enter the field. An overall perception of lack of support, of diversity and family-friendly policies fuels the lack of interest among women to begin their careers in energy and pursue them to the top. Additionally, men perceive women as less flexible and therefore less suitable to certain roles. With an already low number of women at the top, there is less representation in the decision-making process on policies and promotions to counteract this view.
According to POWERful Women, a professional initiative to advance gender diversity within the UK energy sector, better balance is better for business. “The energy sector is facing an enormous transformation but there is a huge pool of female talent out there that isn’t being tapped,” says Ruth Cairnie, Chair of POWERful Women. “Achieving better balance throughout an organisation, all the way up the top, leads to innovation, improved financial performance, better customer relationships, and a stronger social licence to operate.”
Reem Al-Ghanim, Diversity & Inclusion, Saudi Aramco, shares some of the initiatives energy companies can adopt to encourage women in the industry. “First, focus on the pipeline,” she says, “and the importance of encouraging girls from as young as seven years old to study STEM and maintaining this encouragement throughout the career ladder.” With various programmes designed specifically for women, Aramco focuses on developmental opportunities at each stage of the career life-cycle, from entry-level roles to leadership positions. Experience is also important. “When women are offered experiences doing a job, especially those that were once restricted, we are able to develop their skills in on-job development programs and further their technical expertise,” says Al-Ghanim.
Gender diversity in work enhances innovation and decision making, whether because of a reflection and identification of a diverse stakeholder base (customers, employees) or – as women make up the majority of those enrolled in universities – because of previously untapped and highly educated talent coming into play.
Al-Ghanim also highlights the importance of challenging preconceived notions about “the roles of women in society, unconscious bias and how we define physical capabilities.” And with inclusion training aimed at leadership as well as technical and professional fields, Aramco is able to encourage a more inclusive culture. “[We must] create an enabling environment through policies and infrastructure,” continues Al-Ghanim. To work towards this, she contends, companies must look at things such as facilities in the field and policies for maternity and parental leave.
The value of gender diversity in the workplace has been documented – it not only allows us to have a more fair society, providing opportunities for all who seek it, but benefits businesses too. The World Economic Forum reports that women’s participation in the workforce is no longer a social issue, but can cost entire economies. Gender diversity in work enhances innovation and decision making, whether because of a reflection and identification of a diverse stakeholder base (customers, employees) or – as women make up the majority of those enrolled in universities – because of previously untapped and highly educated talent coming into play.
BCG also reports that increased gender diversity has been associated with improved problem-solving, greater creativity and lower-risk decision making, primarily thanks to the addition of so-called female traits such as collaboration and empathy.
An energy sector that is organically diverse currently does not exist. However, by focusing on the three areas of pipeline, perception and environment, we are able to engineer equality – maybe one day it will then become the norm. With the importance of diversity in teamwork and innovation, perhaps the key to the fourth industrial revolution lies in ensuring we have more favourable working environment for both women and men in the industry.
by Ruby Halabi, Corporate Citizenship Advisor, Aramco Overseas Company UK
For more information on Aramco, please visit www.aramco.com
We can communicate, act, create and consume work whenever and wherever. We’ve become attuned to constantly checking our phones.
The proliferation of technology over the past 15 years has revolutionised our lives, but many feel that its promise of enabling us to work smarter, not harder, has not yet materialised. In the mid-1980s, approximately 61 per cent of workers told pollsters they were satisfied with their jobs. Since then, that number has continued to decline. Today, only around 50 per cent of employees share the same sentiment, according to data from The Conference Board.
Fragmented technologies in the work place are compounding the issue. A recent study by Pegasystems found that employees juggle between up to 35 job-critical applications nearly once a minute – that’s more than 1,100 times every day. We use email, a host of different file types, various communication tools and project management systems. Not only were these technologies not necessarily designed to work together, but we are still learning how to process all this information and move fluidly between all the different tools in the workplace.
We need an intelligent, digital working environment built for how we work today – one that can effortlessly connect all our platforms and conversations, and harnesses the power of machine intelligence.
To regain some semblance of personal satisfaction and control, and use the time we have in the working day more effectively to focus on the things that really matter, we need to rethink how we work, collaborate and get things done. It’s time we make a change. Recent technological advances can still be used for good, but we have to be more thoughtful, more intentional. A more enlightened way of working is to harness the power of technology to align our disparate work functions, so we no longer have to waste time on fragmented and siloed ways of working. We need an intelligent, digital working environment built for how we work today – one that can effortlessly connect all our platforms and conversations, and harnesses the power of machine intelligence. In a world of technology that erodes workers’ focus, the aim would be to give that focus back.
Getting this right is not only important for employee engagement, but also the bottom line. A recent employee engagement study by AON showed that a 5 per cent increase in employee engagement is directly linked to a 3 per cent increase in company revenue.
What was once was a relentless cycle can become a more tranquil, focused and happier way of working if we use technology correctly. Technology has unlimited potential, but we’ve seen how it can have a negative impact on people’s daily work. It’s time to build a more enlightened way of working.
Mention the future of work and very quickly questions start to come up: will robots steal our jobs? Will my boss be an algorithm?
The world of work is undergoing transformative change, fuelled by technological innovation, demographics, climate change, and globalisation.
These disruptions, unprecedented in their pace and their scale, raise fundamental questions about the very nature and future of work and, by extension, the place and dignity of people in it. Not surprisingly, there is great uncertainty. People are questioning the capacity of our institutions and our policies to provide them with a future where they can feel secure.
While there is no doubt some jobs will be lost through these changes, there is also a huge potential to create decent work – for example, in the care sector or the green economy. But, at the moment, these are just possibilities. It is up to us to turn them into reality, to shape a future that delivers economic security, equal opportunity and social justice for all people. For example, technology should be used to alleviate drudgery and reduce dangers at work, not dictate how we work. But it is up to us to make sure that this happens, and that humans control the algorithms, not the other way around.
We must be the architects of our common destiny.
In order to take the necessary – and urgent – action, we need to understand and anticipate the transformational drivers of change, and to be ready to respond rapidly to events and challenges.
That is why the International Labour Organization (ILO) convened an independent Global Commission on the Future of Work. Its findings have been taken up in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted by the ILO’s 187 member states at the annual International Labour Conference in June. Its findings have been taken up in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted by the ILO’s 187 member states at the annual International Labour Conference in June.
This ambitious declaration is a short, succinct document that gives strong guidance for the decisive action required from all stakeholders – including governments, employers and unions – to seize the opportunities that lie ahead to create sustainable jobs and improve the quality of working lives.
It offers a roadmap towards a future of work that puts the aspirations, needs and rights of all people at the heart of economic and social policies and business practices.
Its central tenet is that, if we want a just and sustainable future, we must focus on and invest in people. That means investing in jobs, skills and social protection. It means supporting gender equality. It also means investing in the institutions of the labour market, so that wages are adequate, working hours have limits, and safety, health and fundamental rights at work are guaranteed. And it means policies that prioritise economic growth that is sustainable, equitable, and supports decent work for all.
Above all, it means that we cannot sit back and wait for the future to unfold. We must be the architects of our common destiny. The Centenary Declaration gives us a practical and specific blueprint to follow, with social justice at its core.
by Greg Vines, Deputy Director-General for Management and Reform, International Labour Organization
We waste 1,500 hours a year working inefficiently, unable or ill-equipped to grasp the opportunities that can be unlocked in the digital workplace. Many businesses continue with practices such as document version control, isolating the exchange of information (a process more commonly known as emailing), bouncing between local hard drives and the cloud, and so on. All in all, according to Gartner Research, 61 per cent of our valuable time is spent “managing” work and 39 per cent doing the actual work itself. But it doesn’t have to be like this!
The proliferation of applications and piecemeal digital solutions, while well intended, end up fuelling the fragmented workplace and piling more stress onto harried employees. The current mindset in the modern workplace is a strong desire to deploy an intelligent workplace platform (basically an intranet supercharged with intelligence) that accelerates our shift towards a singular, seamless experience where employees have all they need to do their best work. Here is how we can achieve this.
Work smarter, not harder
Improved “intelligent” technology solutions underpinned by artificial intelligence will reduce the noise of the modern workplace and pave the way for the resurgence of vibrant online and offline communities, which give users everything they need to do their job.
Employees are paving the way for the creation of a personalised portfolio of applications, supplemented with role-based functionality. The new digital workforce wants to work smarter, not harder. The goal of this transformation is to deliver a unified digital, physical and human workplace experience that catalyses collaboration and productivity while delivering an incredible employee experience.
Governance of sprawling digital infrastructure and the proliferation of solutions and platforms must be the new normal if we are to realise the potential the modern workplace holds for collaboration and productivity. To reach this promised land, one of the most important prerequisites will be to put in place systems that prevent the explosion of multiple channels, mute the noise of disconnected and distracting applications and set businesses up for success as they accelerate their digital workplace journeys.
Governance and compliance are bedfellows of effective collaboration and productivity. Businesses and their IT departments need to roll out processes and systems, governed by pre-determined rules of engagement, that mitigate the chaotic spread and duplication of channels. The good news is that smart governance systems exist and can be integrated into your existing or future operating systems.
Intelligent intranets are content services platforms that ignite engines of collaboration and innovation across organisations. While the term “intranet” is still broadly understood by a diverse range of professionals and verticals, it understates the increasingly strategic value of intranets in the modern workplace – especially when we consider a workplace set to go through the biggest changes in content management in more than 20 years. Intelligent AI-enabled solutions can solve the business-critical need to ensure content is delivered, shared and measured through the optimum (and most secure) digital channels, further enhancing engagement and employee experience.
Digital transformation is essentially about change management, and change management is essentially about people. The issue of execution and adoption of digital workplace platforms is often the biggest challenge for our customers.
Understandably some employees can negatively perceive new technologies, or siloed teams might see collaboration as a threat. This can be mitigated by better understanding and addressing the ecosystem of employee workplace influences and touchpoints, and ensuring your people are involved and empowered from the earliest phases of planning.
This feedback from our customers has led us to introduce discovery sessions for our clients. During these sessions we delve into the specific challenges and requirements that an individual organisation may be faced with. This could be the need to slowly transition legacy systems, to prioritise front-line workers, or the obligation to put governance and compliance in place before rolling out digital platforms.
These sessions have become an extremely enriching part of our work. We are now better equipped to provide solutions precisely to our customers’ problems, taking into consideration where they are on their digital journey, where they see themselves going and their absorption capacity for change.
Over-hyping AI or digital solutions helps nobody, and the most effective digital transformation projects will include people from all levels and stages. It may take more time, but it will inevitably be more cost-effective, successful and sustainable.
To learn more about how intelligent intranets can drive collaboration and productivity in the modern workplace please visit:
Written by Karl Redenbach, Co-Founder and CEO, LiveTiles
The Leesman Index is a global workplace effectiveness benchmark developed by employment think tank Leesman to gain reliable and standardised data on how workplaces affect employee and organisational performance. Surveyors establish what physical and service features of the workplace are important to employees, then measure how satisfied those employees are with these features – establishing whether the workplace enhances their sense of productivity, pride, enjoyment, culture and community.
Since its launch in 2010, Leesman has gathered vast amounts of comparative data from more than 4,300 workplaces in 94 different countries. The competition is stiff – only 13 of the 971 organisations (employing a total of 151,770 employees) examined in 2018 were awarded Leesman certification. The cerification is given to organisations that, having met strict response criteria, score 70 or above out of 100 on Leesman’s standardised performance scale.
Leesman’s work shows that, year after year, there remains a disconnect between what employers provide in offices and employees’ actual needs, and that many employers are still unaware, or sceptical, of the toxic impact that poor physical and virtual infrastructure can have on their employees. One of the key findings of the survey is that outstanding employee experience can be achieved on a wide spectrum of occupant density. The survey also seems to debunk the common belief that open workspaces are counterproductive or have a negative impact on productivity. However, the survey determined that high-performance workplaces with unassigned seating require around 20 per cent more space per person than the equivalent assigned workplaces.
For more on the survey’s findings and the league table of Leesman+ companies, click here.
With 77 per cent of CEOs surveyed seeing the availability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business, a white paper from Valamis, Digital Transformation of the Workforce, is making a case for retraining and L&D programmes when redressing the increasing disconnect between available and required skills, rather than merely hiring new, better trained staff.
The white paper offers insights into the benefits of proactive retraining and reskilling and explains how digital learning assistants can enable the process. Soft skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, logical reasoning, creativity and leadership are increasingly becoming those most in-demand for the human workforce, and no matter how prevalent technology is becoming, companies need to keep sight of the human element at work more than ever. The white paper explains how economies of scale can make producing learning materials more efficient and how increased time spent on developing them will lead to better outcomes regarding the quality of learning, as well as the role that learning analytics plays in proving the economic benefits of learning.
The crux of the paper is that the “best employees are made, not found”, and even highly qualified and experienced new recruits will need further training.
To download the report, click here.
Are employee activists the next wave that leaders need to be ready for?
The opening question of Employees Rising, a report by New York PR agency Weber Shandwick, sounds menacing. But this report is really about how high employee engagement driven by effective communication, opportunities for personal development and a meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy can turn your employees – especially those active on social media – into your company and brand champions.
Interestingly, the survey found that 56 per cent of respondents have already either defended their employer to family and friends or in blogs and newspapers. Other signs of high engagement can be caring about the company’s reputation, encouraging others to buy its products and services, recommending employer to others as a place to work, or doing volunteer work for a cause the employer supports.
Naturally, however, no two employees are the same. There are the proactives, the preactives, the hyperactives, or the outright detractors. Currently, the report maintains, 21 per cent of employees are activists taking various types of positive actions and nearly no negative ones. Some of the remaining 79 per cent can be activated by, for example, enabling them to increase their presence on social media, but some of them can only be defused.
To read the playbook for employers click here and go to page 19.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
The world of work is shifting. Demographic change, globalisation and technology are changing our understanding of what work is, and how it should be done. Businesses are understandably having to continually adapt to meet the demands of the future. Those that don’t will inevitably be left behind. But change needn’t be scary. It has the potential to create a more equitable, profitable world of work.
The world of work on 1 January 2030
In the past 10 years, digital transformation has transformed the world at an unprecedented rate. Artificial intelligence has displaced millions of workers, making once-flourishing industries redundant. Millions of new jobs have been created and new sectors have miraculously sprung from the ether. People spend their lives constantly plugged in. Face-to-face meetings are almost extinct. Almost every job interview is virtual.
Working habits have changed, too. Just 10 years ago, people clung on to their full-time positions to help reduce household debt and student loans. Workers were unproductive and unhappy, compromising family life for linear career progression.
The GDPs of famously robust economies were slowing. But this is 2030. Millennials and Generation Z now make up the bulk of the workforce and work happens everywhere. Carbon taxes placed on businesses for employee commutes have driven a rapid shift towards displaced, remote teams. In major cities, office buildings that haven’t been repurposed for other means sit unoccupied.
A software developer creates machine-learning software in a teepee in rural Tennessee for a Mancunian manager they’ve never met. A TikTok manager curates content in the Alpine foothills for a green energy company headquartered in Shenzhen – never having set foot inside its physical office building.
Both are paid on contractual terms that did not exist a mere decade beforehand.
The world of work as it is today
This hypothetical utopian vision is, of course, a scenario that’s unlikely to exist in its purest form in just 10 years’ time.
But work is changing dramatically today, with huge implications for us all. The three trends steering change – globalisation, generational change and digital transformation – are already driving businesses to rethink the way they operate.
Just a few decades ago, nearly all workforces across the globe consisted of permanent employees. Today, more than 40 per cent of employees are now considered non-permanent workers, with the figure expected to rise as people start to fully embrace more remote, distributed and gig work.
Across every contract type, industry and profession, flexibility is altering the way we think about work – both geographically and temporally.
Flexible work benefits everyone
Expectations of what work is and how it should be done have changed, especially as more and more Millennials and Generation Zers enter the workforce.
Flexible work is no longer seen a benefit but an expectation. The shift towards greater flexibility is not just benefiting younger generations either, it’s having a big impact on more experienced workers who need time to care for their families and themselves.
Almost every job will have some degree of flexibility built-in. Whether it’s a permanent recruiter working from home two days a week, or a remote accountant working exclusively from coffee shops, the work of the future will become more fluid.
Moving towards more agile, distributed teams
Businesses are also moving from a predominantly permanent employee base towards a mixed workforce. The rapid rise of gig workers over the past decades has caused some controversy. But this working arrangement is becoming increasingly preferential, especially for younger workers who want to work on multiple projects to develop their skillsets.
Using greater numbers of temporary contractors and gig workers can create complexity for businesses – particularly in terms of compliance and workforce management. But businesses can benefit by hiring the right people for projects as and when they see fit, providing greater agility and flexibility – essential components in our age of perpetual digital disruption.
Managing distributed, flexible workforces
The ascent of a flexible, temporary workforce is compelling businesses to change the way they interact with people who are not traditionally employed.
Expectations are high in today’s candidate-led talent marketplace. Employers are no longer simply viewed as a place to work. Instead, they have to consider how their employer brand is perceived. While employer brand and employer value propositions (EVP) have already laid roots in permanent staffing, the same cannot be said for non-permanent talent.
Non-permanent employees take up a substantial share of modern workforces, so more focus needs to be placed on their needs and expectations.
When a freelancer has the ability to work for multiple businesses, on multiple projects, they can pick and choose their work. Businesses need to present themselves as a prime employer for all contingent, temporary and freelance talent.
How the staffing industry is responding
In the staffing solutions industry some organisations are formulating strong responses, creating a future-proof solution called Contingent RPO that integrates with their managed services offerings. This offers complete visibility and compliance to businesses with large distributed workforces. Employer branding, EVP and candidate marketing expertise are also brought to the table – contributing to an all-encompassing proposition that attracts distributed talent both now and in the years to come.
How the staffing industry is responding
The progressive scenario we encountered earlier is contingent on a number of factors. But one thing is for certain: the rate of change in the next 10 years will be rapid and uncompromising. Work will become more distributed, technology will exert a profound effect on the way work is done, and globalisation will enable businesses to hire people from across the world without having to meet them face-to-face.
While this scenario may seem disconcerting, smart businesses will embrace such change. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 10 years, change can come from unexpected places at unexpected times. A more flexible, distributed workforce will enable businesses to become more resistant to dramatic shifts, wherever they may come from.
Twenty-first century society tells us to be brave, to be anything we want to be – but can you truly be yourself at work?
Roche is a pioneer in healthcare, focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. With 42 different nationalities, a 56 per cent female leadership and four generations in the workforce, we have in the UK a range of top talent that drives innovation and creativity. People are any organisation’s greatest asset and it is through our people that we maintain and enhance our contribution to society. But we can only do this if everyone in the company feels able to bring something different to the table. Diseases do not discriminate, and neither do we.
Through mandated measures such as the gender pay gap and increased demands from their people and customers, many companies are now more aware of and more active in the discussion of diversity. Translating this discussion into tangible outputs, feasible actions and real change is key.
Diversity and inclusion are entirely interlinked and integral to one another. To make them work and to see the invaluable benefit to society that they bring, we require a shift in mindset. Ask yourself: are you truly diverse and inclusive and if not, how has the lack of it affected you and your business?
Having a culture of interconnectivity between diversity and inclusion is not a box-ticking activity and requires change driven by all parties. For any organisation to evolve and encompass true inclusivity, it must help embed these values in its people. Is this true for your organisation?
The conversation is far from over. With society now placing an increasing spotlight on all organisations to improve their sustainability, ensuring people remain at the forefront of the agenda will dictate the future of how we work in the UK. The question is, will you share your voice at the table to drive this change?
by Adria Harris, UK Human Resources Director, Roche
Time spent working as part of a team is increasing massively year on year, with virtual teams also more frequent in the multi-national or dispersed workforce which is becoming so common. And yet, according to Harvard Business Review, 75 per cent of teams are dysfunctional and 60 per cent of teams fail to deliver. Getting it right can be hard and requires a unique set of skills on the part of the leader.
Leaders and teams are also now working in increasingly ambiguous and complex environments, factors which can really get in the way of high performance. Organisations are continuously shifting and reorganising to stay lean and nimble and respond to changing customer needs, so teams feel the impact of that. It’s essential that they find ways to get to and, most importantly, maintain high performance within that context.
Over the next few decades, as we see an increase in the digitalisation of many jobs, quintessentially human skills such as collaboration and innovation, which a robot cannot do, will become even more important. It is essential that we get teamworking right – fast!
The business benefits of high-performing teams are significant and have been proven by research. More effective teams deliver better results (Guttman, 2015), achieve up to a 14 per cent increase in profit (Gallup) and higher productivity (Wiseman, 2017), have lower employee turnover – it can be halved (Blanchard) – and higher levels of wellbeing (Oxford University, 2009). It’s clearly worth the effort to invest in moving your teams from average to high-performing.
So what is it that creates high performance in teams? What’s that magic formula? From our research we have found that, when leaders get these five things right, they consistently create high performance and maintain it, even when things are changing around them:
We call these “The Five Dynamics of High-Performing Teams”, and have created a methodology, a set of tools and a series of diagnostics to help leaders focus on the right things in their team. It starts with a team diagnostic which asks all of the team members to assess the team (not the leader) on the five dynamics. This provides a baseline of where the team is. The team can then choose where to focus their efforts based on where the biggest gaps are, using the relevant tools from the leader’s toolkit over a period of time. It’s a highly practical, engaging process which sees quick results, which the team can assess through further diagnostics.
CPM (Continuous Performance Management) is a performance management process that takes place throughout the year on an ongoing basis, replacing traditional annual or six-monthly appraisals that are no longer fit for purpose any more in today’s agile working environment. Check-ins are an essential component of CPM (see below).
A digital governance framework includes the roles and responsibilities, authorities for taking decisions and accountability for each stakeholder in the process of building an organisation’s digital strategy. Digital strategy, digital policy and digital standards are the three facets of a digital governance framework.
Internal or employee activists as defined by the United Minds and KRC Research Report are “people who speak out for or against their employers on controversial issues that affect society.” Recent cases of employee activism include a petition to British fashion designer and retailer Ted Baker demanding that CEO Ray Kelvin stopped hugging employees, or when employees at management consultancy McKinsey & Company pressured management to stop working with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The emergence of employee activism is driven, on the one hand, by millennials’ expectations that their employers should put more weight on the impact their enterprise has on society and the environment rather than profits, and the extensive use of social media by employees and “watercooler chat moving online”, on the other. However, some experts suggest that businesses can also benefit from the activism of certain types of employees by encouraging them to become brand or company ambassadors. An example of big tech backlash against employee activists happened when Google fired two employee activists, saying they had violatead company policy by sharing confidential documents.
Flexible workplaces – also known as shared office or flexispaces – are co-working spaces that businesses rent on rolling month-to-month contracts, typically for four to six months. Flexispaces are offered as fully-functioning serviced offices with minimum set-up time and no set-up costs, and involve hotdesking and mobile working instead of fixed workstations, with sometimes more than one company sharing the same space.
A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
An LMS or Learning Management System is an e-learning software application used for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, training and L&D programs.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (or MTurk) platform – named after the unbeatable chess-playing “machine” built by 18th century Hungarian inventor Farkas Kempelen (it actually concealed a human) – offers workers menial tasks ranging from labelling pictures to transcribing receipts, that computers can’t yet easily perform. Requesters are typically researchers with low budgets or tech companies looking for data to be fed to AI algorithms. Payment for each task can be as little as 1 cent, and Turkers frequently complain about being short-changed or not paid at all.
A mindset-check in, an essential component of Continuous Performance Management, is an invitation for meeting participants to shar the things foremost on their mind. It also involves one-on-one conversations between managers and employees about work progress, goals, performance to date, and plans of action, held at regular intervals throughout the year, rather than in traditional annual appraisals.
the OECD’s Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, or PIAAC, measures key information processing skills (such as literacy, numeracy, problem-solving) and gathers information and data on how adults use their skills at work, at home and in the wider community. The PIAAC Indicator demonstrates the share of the adult population in the highest two levels of performance in problem-solving in digital environments.
Platform work is a form of employment that uses an online platform to match the supply of, and demand for, paid labour. The working arrangements of platform workers exhibit some features traditional employment can’t match, such as being able to choose working hours, and the availability of work for short periods of time on demand. However, those who are fully dependent on platform work have to make their living without access to social, labour and health and safety protection, which employment contracts would provide them with.
Proprietary mobile apps are one-stop business applications where an organisation and its clients can engage. They enable both employees and customers to carry out functions as diverse as document tracking, messaging, transactions and digital signage all within the business’s app. Proprietary apps affect employee engagement positively as they enable an employee experience on a par with what a business’s workforce is used to in their private lives. They are also proven to boost customer experience and loyalty through increased brand-awareness and easy-of-use. Some proprietary mobile app platforms allow a business to build customised mobile applications in days rather than weeks or months.
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. These symptoms appear to be linked to time spent in a building, though no specific illness or cause can be identified.
Workforce or skill churn takes place when employers lay off workers and then hire new ones, typically with a goal of changing their mix of skills or expertise. Companies adopting new business strategies often need to rely on these tactics to guarantee the people aspect of a successful transformation.
Social stewardship refers to taking responsibility for a business and the effects it has on the world around it, as well as actively working to alter business practices to mitigate negative effects. It involves considering more than just the bottom line to also take elements such as values, ethics and morals into account.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter
The nature and role of the freelance workforce has changed enormously in recent years, often in ways that have not been clearly communicated and are not especially well known.
Tech enablement, agile business needs, and greater demands for flexible working are all contributing to an expansion in the independent working sector. According to the UK’s independent professionals organisation IPSE, one in seven of the workforce is now self-employed, a 35% increase over the last decade.
The ups and downs in what’s often called ‘the gig economy’ have garnered much of the attention in recent years. As a result some of the key trends in independent working have been overlooked by the media.
Crucially, the independent workforce is increasingly diverse. It ranges from the Deliveroo drivers and TaskRabbit workers juggling a variety of ‘gigs’, to high-skill, and high value consulting and transformation experts. It is this latter group which has driven the recent boom in independent work; growing 47% since 2008 according to IPSE’s research, the biggest change of any section of the freelance market.
COMATCH and other similar marketplaces are where these independent professionals and their clients increasingly find each other. Our own research shows that nearly half (48%) of independent professionals use an online marketplace to find work. Quality and consistency is key; by screening and supporting our members and working with clients to identify their needs, we ensure companies have fast access to an international pool of top quality professionals and can be confident of strong and immediate fit with their culture and way of working.
This approach delivers great benefits for both independents and clients. Increasingly, businesses of all types and sizes need access to a wide pool of specialist and expert talent. For smaller businesses in particular, this has previously not been possible without great effort. Now, whatever the need; from supporting regular processes in busy times (eg peak sales times or their financial reporting cycle) to bringing in niche experts for one-off projects; all businesses can rapidly find and engage people with precisely the right skills.
For the independent professionals it is not so much finding work, but finding the right work that matters. Research among consultants registered with us highlights that ‘freedom to decide on projects’ was the main reason for going freelance (86% said this was important or very important). Variety, access to new and different sorts of client, as well as flexibility over when and where they work were also important factors.
It is also worth stating that, for the vast majority, becoming an independent professional was a considered and conscious decision. According to our research two-thirds of consultants quit their last jobs to go freelance, against just 15% who were made redundant. Most are committed to remaining independent; just one in ten (11%) would consider returning to a full-time employer. Although a majority (58%) make more money than they did as an employee, it is the work-life balance that is key. Over 90% say they are as happy or happier as a freelance worker than they were as an employee.
So this is a highly skilled, highly committed and highly motivated independent workforce that businesses of all types should consider tapping in to.
Companies looking to ‘right-size’ their workforce whilst ensuring that they have the skills and experience to meet highly dynamic customer and market demands, will increasingly look to leverage the ‘open talent economy’ to augment their existing employee-base.
Freelance and independent working is now an attractive option for many highly skilled professionals and a flexible, cost-effective solution for businesses challenged by finding talent and creating a workforce fit for purpose.
Some see this as the future of work: for many of the most highly skilled professionals in the 21st century, it’s already here.
Managing Director UK & Ireland
Automation is transforming the global economy – we need innovative solutions to address both the opportunities and challenges it presents.
Countries around the world are grappling with the challenges and opportunities of automation. This year in the United States, the Port of Los Angeles experienced a heated debate over the impact that automation could have on dockworkers. By contrast, China is adopting automation at a breakneck pace. A recent story highlighted that a warehouse in China processes hundreds of thousands of orders a day with only four human employees. Similarly, in Japan, robots are helping to care for the country’s growing elderly population. And there are examples every month of new technologies performing tasks that we once thought only humans could perform.
This isn’t the first time countries have faced and debated the opportunities and challenges of increased automation. As the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy demonstrated, automation can create new jobs, fuel economic growth, raise incomes and increase standards of living. At the same time, from the Luddites of the 19th century to manufacturing workers of the 20th century, there is a long history of automation also resulting in widespread job loss and economic dislocation for workers and communities.
A question that animates today’s conversations around the future of work is whether the 21st century version of automation will be different and more disruptive than what we have experienced in the past. Democratic US presidential candidate Andrew Yang is running a campaign based on this proposition. Many economists argue the opposite point – if automation were truly as disruptive as some suggest, productivity in the US and in other countries would be stronger than it is presently.
The endless speculation about what the future will bring misses an important reality of the present: the United States does not have adequate systems in place to manage the level of disruption we are experiencing today, never mind what might happen in the future. The last 40 years have brought dramatic changes from globalisation and automation that have led to a labour market that is characterised by higher levels of financial insecurity and precarious work arrangements. For this reason alone, we need to develop better solutions for those who have been or will be left behind by technological change.
As automation changes the skills necessary to perform many jobs, workers will need access to programmes that provide in-demand skills leading to well-paying, secure jobs and careers.
What should be done? Firstly, policymakers should develop policies that encourage greater business investment in workers in order to level the playing field between investments in capital and labour. Employers are uniquely positioned to help workers prepare for automation, and understand the skills needed for the jobs of the future. But unfortunately, employer-provided training has been declining in the United States. By creating a worker training tax credit that could be used to offset a portion of the cost of new training activities for low-paid workers, policymakers could encourage greater investments in labour.
Secondly, employers and educational institutions should expand apprenticeship programmes. As automation changes the skills necessary to perform many jobs, workers will need access to programmes that provide in-demand skills leading to well-paying, secure jobs and careers. By incorporating work-based learning, apprenticeships provide workers with hands-on training and relevant skills. Yet despite their effectiveness at connecting workers with in-demand jobs, apprenticeships are relatively limited in the US when compared with other countries. Policymakers also have a role to play here and could provide incentives for employers and educators to form partnerships that facilitate apprenticeships.
Thirdly, employers should adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to decisions around how automation is implemented, whether by promoting new forms of worker input and ownership, or by developing proactive strategies to identify jobs that will be impacted by automation and develop strategies to help workers transition to new jobs. As the example of autonomous vehicles suggests, layoffs cannot always be avoided, but transition planning should include employers, policymakers, educational institutions, and non-profits. Efforts in states such as California, New Jersey and Indiana are bringing together these stakeholders to identify solutions that can help workers adjust to disruptions in the economy.
Finally, innovation should be encouraged. But it should be done while also understanding that we have the ability to shape the impact of technology through explicit choices that policymakers, employers and labour collectively make. With the right set of policies and business practices, we can create an economy that promotes innovation, while ensuring economic security and opportunity.
Effective mentoring can help individuals make vital connections and ensure organisations are able to boost engagement and productivity. But facilitating that is no easy matter.
According to the Office for National Statistics, productivity in the UK fell at its fastest rate in five years in the second quarter of 2019, continuing the trend of recent years. The UK is not unique in facing what has been called the “productivity puzzle”, but it is one of the more glaring examples.
There are many contributory factors for this, but one fundamental reason is that a bad culture means many organisations are failing to get the most of employees and their capabilities, leading to low levels of employee engagement and a lack of innovation.
But, for many organisations, the answer to greater productivity may be closer to home than they think. According to research, employees that are mentored are seven times more likely to be engaged, six times more likely to be promoted, and are an average of 8 per cent more productive than those who are not. Furthermore, they boast a 20 per cent higher retention rate than other employees.
The problem, though, is that while around 75 per cent of Fortune 500 businesses run mentoring programmes, these are often flawed, inconsistent and hard to maintain, and tend to reinforce existing silos, meaning they fail to address key issues around inclusion and diversity.
Two years ago, Ed Beccle – then still at school – hit on the idea of a tutoring app which could connect school pupils looking for extra support with university students able to provide that, and then sought to expand this concept into the world of work.
With his co-founder Henry Costa, who had come off the back of large success in African Fintech, Beccle created the result – Grasp. A platform designed to enable every employee from any level in an organisation to connect with others in the business, creating a culture of engagement and helping to improve productivity. The platform has since gone on to attract investment from some of the biggest names in business, as a result of cold emails, a game of squash and a very impressive network.
“We’ve always had the ethos that everyone has something to share and learn, and it doesn’t matter how senior or junior you are,” says Beccle. “In huge businesses, everyone combined must know everything but it’s how you work out who knows what and then how you connect with that specific person.”
Grasp offers a number of products designed to help organisations overcome the issues of low levels of staff retention, productivity and engagement, and bolts on to existing HR software. All its products revolve around the core belief of connecting users in a smart way through the use of both new and latent data sets. Mentoring is Grasp’s flagship product, aiming to disrupt the way mentoring programmes work in enterprises. Grasp believes in being the catalyst and spark for new and meaningful conversations where everyone has something to offer.
Once introductions have been made, individuals can either connect through a Zoom call or arrange to meet in person, depending on their location and the nature of the liaison. “Technology plays a huge part in bringing people together although it’s really important to get people meeting up in person,” says Beccle.
“There’s a huge opportunity that’s missed in just meeting people. But a lot of the time people barely know what the person 12 steps away from them does, let alone two or 10 floors above.” He’s keen to stress, too, that it’s not just a case of more junior staff being mentored by more experienced ones, as often younger employees will have skills that can be useful to older workers.
Embedding the technology that can help organisations make the most of the skills and experiences they already have in the business can create a culture where mentoring is truly effective, he adds, bringing direct benefits to the bottom line.
This is likely to become even more important as Generation Z enters the workplace, believes Beccle, and organisations need to do more to engage them and tackle the productivity crisis. “This will get better and bigger,” he predicts. “Every company will need to use something like this in future.”
Creating the right environment for businesses across every part of our economy to adopt and use new technology is vital to supercharge UK economic growth. From automotive to banking and retail to hospitality, the future is increasingly digital, and businesses large and small are grappling with how they can embrace tech to help them and their customers.
The benefits of getting this agenda right are self-evident. Artificial intelligence has the potential to add £232 billion to the UK economy by 2035, electric vehicles could unlock £28 billion within the same time frame, and the internet of things (IoT) is estimated to save us in the region of £75 billion over the next five years. But driving change across an entire business, let alone the whole of the UK, will be the one of the biggest challenges of the coming years.
Luckily, the UK is starting from a position of strength. It already has regional hubs that not only have a heritage of innovation but are leading the way on developing new technologies. Take Manchester as an example. It’s a city steeped in technological innovation – the birthplace of the first steam-powered modern railway in 1761, and the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, arguably the world’s first modern computer, in 1948. Today it has a tech cluster with a total digital turnover of £2.2 billion.
To build on this innovation across the whole of our economy and society, there are three areas that we need to focus on – digitisation, R&D and skills.
While the UK is already home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge businesses and industries, driving economy-wide productivity means enabling non-digital businesses also embrace new technologies with confidence.
As Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, highlighted in June last year, as of 2015 only 13 per cent of UK companies had adopted all five basic technologies (using computers, the internet, websites, e-purchasing and e-sales). Fewer than 10 per cent of companies have adopted more advanced technologies, such as mobile access to email, online ordering and fast broadband access, and more than a quarter had not adopted any.
We must therefore encourage the take-up of digital services, software and tools such as cloud computing, supply chain management software, manufacturing of IoT technologies and new AI-driven solutions.
To achieve this, techUK supports accelerating the pace of investment in digital infrastructure and strongly agrees with the government’s ambition for 15 million premises to have access to gigabit full-fibre connectivity by 2025 and nationwide connectivity by 2033.
Providing the underlying infrastructure isn’t the only challenge. The UK lags behind in providing support to businesses to digitise. Our tax system has become increasingly outdated as software and licences have replaced hardware as the driver of productivity. An urgent review is needed to reconfigure our system to better support operational expenditure, alongside traditional capital expenditure to ensure that reliefs and allowances provide the right incentives to adopt service such as cloud, CRM systems and increasing AI.
Research and development
techUK strongly welcomed the government’s commitment to spending 2.4 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2027. But to achieve this, we need a comprehensive package of measures to support UK R&D in digital industries. For example, we must ensure that the UK maintains a competitive offer for those who locate R&D here. The upcoming Digital Competitiveness Review is an important opportunity to ensure that our R&D tax credit system keeps pace with global competitors.
Tech is a huge contributor to global R&D spend. According to Bloomberg, seven of the top 10 R&D spenders are tech companies. Software publishing alone was responsible for £1.4 billion of R&D investment in 2017, and represents only a small part of digital sector expenditure. Yet we aren’t punching our weight globally in attracting this spend – we are well below the EU average, and currently spend less than half of countries such as Israel or Sweden on R&D as a percentage of GDP.
It is also vital that businesses are able to source the skills and talent needed to meet the digital skills gap the UK is facing. More work is needed to enable the next generation to develop their digital skills and help businesses, and local authorities, to get the support and help they need to drive the design, adoption and implementation of digital services.
Industry must support measures to increase the number of people undertaking vocational training through high-quality apprenticeship schemes. However, apprenticeships have not kept pace with the government’s ambition since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
techUK members have continued to raise significant concerns with the apprenticeship levy, and their ability to use levy funds for training and support their wider ecosystem of partners. Between May 2017 and the end of January 2019, levy-paying employers used only 15 per cent of the total £3.9 billion funds available.
Despite the government rightly prioritising apprenticeships by setting an ambition of three million new apprenticeships by 2020, the latest findings from the National Audit Office suggest the government is unlikely to meet this target. The report shows that despite the apprenticeship levy raising over £2 billion from employers in 2017/18, there were only 375,800 starts that academic year. This was 26 per cent lower than the 509,400 new apprenticeships in 2015/16, the last full year before the reform. Clearly something is not working.
techUK strongly supports significant further reforms to the levy to help to ensure the policy is achieving its intended purpose. Industry and government must work to ensure that apprenticeships remain a key component of our efforts to close the skills gap and offer individuals a variety of routes into tech.
Supercharging our digital economy
Provided that both industry and government focus on getting these three areas right, we are confident that the UK can continue to realise the full economic and social opportunities, value and benefits of advanced digital technologies.
To develop this vision further and determine next steps for the whole of the UK, we are holding our fourth annual Supercharging the Digital Economy event in Manchester on November and invite all who want to join in this debate to come along.
by Matthew Evans, Director, techUK
The world of work is undergoing a major process of change. With the rise of technology and economic, political and social disruption intensifying, organisations are having to adapt to increasingly global competition, new business models and changing customer demands.
In today’s dispersed workplaces, more and more people are working from anywhere, at any time. Artificial intelligence and automation are gathering pace and the need for employees to constantly learn new skills to reach their potential and help their organisations thrive has never been greater.
Virtually every business is having to work out how to adapt and transform. The physical workspace and the skills required are evolving and it won’t be long before there is a potential mismatch between the skills workers currently have and those that their business needs in the future.
Human skills are a competitive advantage, and how agile a company is in embracing new technology to unlock and nurture those skills impacts employee happiness and business performance. Organisations that invest in the continuous development of their people will succeed in enabling a people-led transformation in the digital age. After all, it is people-centric companies that are the most successful in making change happen.
Technology makes people development easy. The right systems and processes fuel a people-led transformation in the digital age in a number of ways, from helping to recruit new talent to driving collaboration and developing tomorrow’s leaders. Technology also provides organisations with the data they need to make informed decisions to affect change.
Recruiting the best talent
In the future workplace, the need to hire skills different to those that exist today will intensify the war for talent. The rise of the gig economy and demand for hiring workers on a flexible basis will empower change and create a more on-demand culture in the workplace.
To bring new skills into the business, organisations will need a clear recruitment strategy and the right procedures in place to attract and hire both freelance and permanent staff. The future of recruitment will always be human, but it will also be increasingly augmented with technologies, including artificial intelligence and digital platforms, that automate and optimise the recruitment experience for organisations and job-seekers alike.
Kallidus Recruit, our easy-to-use applicant tracking system, has been designed to enable recruitment teams to identify and hire the best talent when they need it. It ensures the best candidate experience while giving full visibility of every part of the recruitment journey, from a candidate’s first application to their first day in their new job.
Making it easy for people to learn
One of the biggest challenges in the future will be balancing the recruitment of the skills needed now, while focusing on the organisational ability to develop raw talent and the skills needed in the future. Making it easy for people to learn will be critical, at one level for the delivery of mandatory or induction training to new starters to building long-term capability in the business.
Learning is undergoing a major transformation. In the past it was confined to the classroom. But in the same way that the office is no longer the hub of productivity, nor are the confines of the classroom the hub of learning. Businesses are having to rethink traditional ideas surrounding productivity and are reimagining how they can enable employees to accomplish tasks when and where it is best for them. Whether it’s at work, while travelling or from home, the future of learning is about making it as easy as possible for people to learn and maximising natural learning opportunities.
Next-generation learning platforms such as Kallidus Learn help to deliver a fun and engaging learning experience and empower learners to learn on demand and on the go. The connected, always-on era in which we live means more and more people are able to complete their workplace learning on handheld devices using a rich mix of e-learning, video and learning games to supplement face-to-face education. Learning will become available increasingly at the point of need and a part of the working day, removing the time and cost spent in the classroom.
Another key trend as we embrace the future will be a greater focus on performance management. Kallidus’ Perform software will help organisations to align their skills development with their business’s strategic goals, while ensuring individuals have a clear purpose and understand how their development will contribute to business success.
The future of work is already here in many ways, and technology has a crucial role to play in creating a dynamic way to live, work and learn, and in leading a people-led transformation in a world where there is a lot of change and disruption.
by Harry Chapman-Walker, Sales Director, Kallidus
For further information about how Kallidus can help you prepare for the future of work visit www.kallidus.com/BusinessReporter
A brand is an emotional concept. A name or symbol can evoke images, ideas, feelings, lifestyles and aspirations. Businesses work hard to cultivate and develop their brand identity – they use their brand to say this is who we are, this is what we do, and this is what we can accomplish together. No matter how many moving parts there are within an organisation, a brand influences how a company is perceived, making it crucial to constantly look for ways to improve that perception.
For client-focused businesses, brand loyalty represents a relationship between a client and an organisation. This relationship is built on a client’s trust in a brand to be reliable, communicative, and effective. If a business can maintain a brand identity that aligns with a client’s ideals, the relationship is positive and generates revenue.
While most client-centric businesses focus on providing uniform services that address the needs of many, a business that prides itself on being a white-glove service provider tailors its services to its clients. These brands are associated with exceeding expectations, individualised attention to detail, and adjusting to their clients’ needs. Clients who choose first-class service providers are paying more for an experience that promises to do more – they are paying for a brand that caters to them personally.
In today’s mobile world, the most personal extension of an individual is their mobile device. Phones allow people to connect with those they love most, keep a record of their conversations, store their photo albums, and have the ability to capture memories. Phones are their emails, their banks, their wallets. People can use their phones to map where they are going, order transportation, board a plane, or call for help. Phones are so personally tied to each person, that to even unlock them can take a fingerprint or facial identification. For a client, phones can get them almost anything they need. For a white-glove business, a mobile strategy provides the best service to a client.
While many businesses have seen the value in employing a mobile presence, developing a business app is complicated. As Moxtra’s Head of Marketing Leena Iyar explains, without a set template for a functional mobile app, the process of going mobile is daunting.
Moxtra has identified the need for businesses to have a mobile strategy, creating a platform that enables organisations to power one-stop business destinations and engage with their clients on demand.
By analysing the business-client relationship, as well as on-demand mobile expectations, Moxtra has classified a successful mobile strategy as one that…
…is under the organisation’s unique brand
Developing a branded mobile application allows clients to recognise the advantages of a business’s mobility as part of the brand’s identity.
…is a one-stop business destination
In order to establish trust on a mobile platform, a one-stop business destination should be a secure space to discuss and process high-value transactions, with a paper trail and the ability to review and sign timely documents.
…offers on-demand assistance to clients
As with any relationship, there should be communication. When a business is available on mobile, conversation is more convenient and on record for future reference.
Exceptional service means meeting every client where they are, when they want. A business-client relationship starts with a brand’s perceived promises to a client. A client remains loyal to a brand who delivers on their promises. A white-glove service provider promises to deliver individualised, bespoke service to clients. In today’s mobile world, that service should involve meeting a client where they are, on-demand, and on mobile. A mobile strategy evokes a brand that is both personal and relevant.
Never before in history have so many young people stayed in education for so long. Across the world, young people are leaving education more highly qualified than any preceding generation. Yet, although they approach the working world with unprecedented levels of human capital, in many countries they struggle to find good jobs that reflect their skills and interests. When graduates can’t find suitable employment and recruiters can’t find the young talent they need, there is reason to look afresh at how well young people are being prepared for their lives in work.
Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) organises an assessment of hundreds of thousands of young people around the globe. Through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), countries can compare the academic performance and perceptions of a representative sample of 15-year-olds in dozens of countries and economic areas. In a recent report, an analysis of PISA 2018 data sheds new light on the career expectations of teenagers and their relation to actual labour market demand.
From 2000, the PISA assessment has asked young people about the job they expect to have at age 30. Since then, the aspirations of teenagers have become increasingly concentrated, so much so that now one in two girls and boys across OECD countries anticipates working in one of just 10 different jobs. In the UK, 53 per cent of girls and 47 per cent of boys have these narrow aspirations. Of particular concern is that the career aspirations of young people are so closely linked to their gender and socio-economic status. Six of the occupations most commonly cited by British boys, including business manager, are not cited at all by British girls.
It may be reasonable to ask: does this really matter? Analysis by the OECD and other researchers suggests strongly that it does. Such levels of concentration show prima facie evidence of poor labour market signalling at a time when young people are approaching critical decisions about whether they will stay in education and, if so, what and where they will study. When examining young people’s expectations in light of labour market projections, it becomes clear that young people are responding in very limited ways to employer signals concerning areas of both job growth and likely automation.
Young people who work part-time or who engage with employers through career talks organised by their schools do better as working adults than would otherwise be expected.
Internationally, levels of concentration have grown steadily since 2000, especially among boys, weaker academic performers and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Moreover, the PISA tests in literacy, mathematics and science give a good indication of whether a young person is capable of succeeding in higher education. UK data show that one in three of such high performers from disadvantaged backgrounds do not expect to go to university, compared to just one in 12 of their advantaged peers.
Data from longitudinal studies, which follow thousands of people from birth to adulthood, reveal that what young people think and experience about the labour market makes a difference to their adult success. Career aspirations are, to an important extent, predictive of what follows. Young people who work part-time or who engage with employers through career talks organised by their schools do better as working adults than would otherwise be expected. Children whose occupational ambitions align with their educational plans are more likely to thrive through school-to-work transitions.
In a world where jobs are subject to rapid and disruptive automation, the decisions that young people make as they stay in education longer are not only becoming more numerous, but more difficult. The challenge for schools and colleges is to help young people develop aspirations that are broad, realistic and reflective of their abilities and interests. Good career guidance begins early and broadens the aspirations of young people, giving them access to first-hand encounters with the working world. It enables young people to become informed critical thinkers about the labour market – how it works and what place they can imagine for themselves in it. To help them succeed, people in work have an essential role to play in helping teachers and guidance counsellors bring learning to life, and ensuring that young people engage in education and make their plans for the future with their eyes open to the myriad opportunities and pitfalls of working life. As the working world becomes ever more complex, such a culture of collaboration is increasingly urgent.
How can employers and governments address the mismatch between the aspirations of young people and the future of work? How can we best accompany young people to ensure they thrive in their studies, professional and personal lives? How can learning systems catch up? Through the “I am the Future of Work” campaign, the OECD is gathering stories and insights about the way the world of work is changing, and fostering solutions-oriented conversations to build a more inclusive future of work.
Anthony Mann is Senior Analyst (Education and Skills) at the OECD and lead author of Dream Jobs? Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work. Visit the “I am the Future of Work”campaign website.
by Anthony Mann, Senior Analyst (Education and Skills), OECD
When considering the future of work, it’s impossible to ignore how prevalent mobile interaction has become. With the rise of the on-demand mobile economy, adopting a strategy to engage your customers on mobile is critical.
Client-centric businesses rely on relationships and brand loyalty to create revenue. These businesses provide clients with a reliable, timely service they can depend upon. In order to provide white-glove service, a company should be anticipating clients’ expectations and adapting intelligently. In today’s world, people are mobile and they expect on-demand services directly from their devices. Businesses aiming to distinguish themselves as providers of first-class service must have a strategy to engage their clients on mobile.
In thinking about a mobile app for business, consider a business branch. Physical branches offer clients convenient locations for easy travel and a full, interactive experience, including brand familiarity, business capabilities and direct assistance from company representatives.
While operating physical branches has been standard practice in expanding a business’s reach, they are not without obstacles. Branches are expensive to build or rent and costly to brand. Although much strategy goes into choosing a branch location, it is impossible to know if it will be successful. Furthermore, it is not feasible to place a branch near every customer, and those without comfortable proximity to a branch may take their business to a competitor.
Now, imagine having a branch without the challenges of a brick and mortar location. Imagine a branch in each client’s pocket. Imagine a mobile, virtual branch of your business, able to travel with your clients wherever they may be. This is the future of business branching. People are mobile, so organisations seeking to deliver high-level service to their clients should be available on mobile too.
With all the advantages a mobile strategy offers in heightening business-client relationships, why haven’t all businesses developed a plan to go mobile?
As Moxtra’s Head of Marketing Leena Iyar explains, the process of going mobile is daunting since there is no set template for a functional, successful mobile application.
Moxtra identified this void and created a platform to power one-stop app destinations where businesses can engage with clients. Through experience in the space, Moxtra has defined the strategy for a successful mobile app as being under the organisation’s unique brand and functioning as a one-stop business destination, thus enabling the business to provide on-demand assistance to clients.
Any client-centric business focused on providing outstanding service should be looking towards and exceeding their clients’ expectations. To stay relevant in an increasingly mobile world, a business that prides itself on delivering white-glove service should be meeting clients on mobile.
After years of hype around the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), the augmented workforce is finally a reality for many businesses. But while much of the attention so far has focused on relatively simplistic chatbots helping field basic customer enquiries, the real benefit of AI lies in helping organizations drive revenue by attracting and retaining customers at scale through human-like personalized interactions, believes Jim Kaskade, CEO of Conversica, a leading AI technology firm based in California.
One area is in helping organizations follow up with potential leads in a natural two-way dialogue to drive towards a meeting or the next best action. Sales teams, for example, are often inundated by incoming leads generated through online marketing campaigns, business events, or a customer’s CRM or marketing automation system. Here, intelligent virtual assistants: AI-powered, SaaS-based software applications that serves as virtual team members can be adopted in customer-facing teams like sales, marketing and customer success, to help organizations drive top-line growth.
Intelligent virtual assistants get in touch with people by email or mobile SMS to encourage them to request a call or make an appointment to speak to someone in person, before handing over hot leads to a human sales adviser. The same concept can be applied to encouraging customers to renew contracts, book service appointments or take out additional products or services, with intelligent virtual assistants able to initiate outgoing discussions as well as follow up on incoming enquiries.
“Every part of the revenue lifecycle journey has a lot of inefficiencies,” says Kaskade. “We see contact from leads at around 30 percent, sales conversions at 10 percent and expansions against existing customer bases are relatively flat because businesses just do not have the time to engage. Using intelligent virtual assistants, organisations can have essentially a helper for the workforce that allows them to turn 30 percent lead coverage into 100 percent.” Customer retention is particularly important for organisations, he adds, due to the high costs of new customer acquisition, but churn rates are often as high as 30 percent. “Conversica has proven that it can significantly improve retention and expansion rates.”
Already, around 1,500 organisations are taking advantage of Conversica’s technology, with more than 100 million customer contacts approached, 650 million interactions that led to more than $20 billion in additional revenue secured. One example is US telecommunications company CenturyLink, which has seen a twentyfold return on investment by following up telemarketing leads using an intelligent virtual assistant, receiving between 30 and 100 hot leads a month.
Printer business Epson America has also used its assistant, Rachel, to follow up the 40,000 to 60,000 leads it receives each year. “Before Conversica, if we gave 100 leads to the reps, we might get a couple of responses,” says Chris Nickel, senior marketing manager. “Now, if we give 100 leads to Rachel, we get 50 responses back.”
Dedicated products also exist for specific industries, including higher education and automotive, with businesses such as Allen Samuels Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership using intelligent virtual assistants to help manage ongoing customer relationships and encourage people to book vehicle services.
The technology itself draws on 10 years’ experience from data and insight into customer conversations, to a point where customers are unaware they are talking to an intelligent virtual assistant rather than a human being. The assistant interprets the intent of any response, gathers new or updated information such as phone numbers or out-of-office notifications, updates the systems and replies accordingly. It is capable of speaking multiple languages including English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and Japanese, including any industry-specific jargon.
In the near future, Kaskade believes the real potential of AI will be in assisting humans rather than replacing jobs. “We look at it as having hired an assistant for your existing staff and making them more productive,” he says. “Driving productivity into every level of workforce in the pyramid will continue to be our mantra for the next several years. We want to build the largest augmented workforce in the world, to help organisations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale.”
For more information on how Conversica can help your business, visit www.conversica.com
“By 2023, 40 per cent of professional workers will orchestrate their business application experiences and capabilities like they do their music streaming service,” according to a recent Gardner report.
The music-streaming analogy describes an emerging trend for employees to be provided with more bespoke applications, a break from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to business applications, regardless of role. Future workplaces will involve separate applications for each aspect of a role, with personalised, modular app kits for each employees, argues Johnny Evans in this article for Computerworld.
Evans has covered Apple for the last 30 years, and takes the line that companies will need to think along the same lines as the software giant’s Apple Store if they are to work in harmony with today’s more tech-savvy employees. Today’s workers want easily accessible applications for everything, which work well together – and if the apps they use at work are worse than what they’re used to at home, they could quit altogether. Evans argues that enterprise app developers will urgently need to adopt “a widget-like approach” that splices every business process into modules.
Digital technology is changing business processes and the way we work, according to a new book, Digital Governance, by Business Reporter’s Jeremy Swinfen Green. Business leaders need to take technology as seriously as they take capital, people and reputation, says Swinfen Green, arguing that technology is not just the purview of the IT crowd, but a strategic transformational issue that needs to be managed across organisations. Starting with a review of the governance and change management principles that should underpin technology within organisations, the book goes on to cover the opportunities within areas such as finance, marketing, HR and IT. There are also sections on the risks that stem from technology, and how to manage them, as well as the opportunities. For a preview, and to buy a PDF copy, click here.
A recent US study has reinforced what has long been common knowledge in HR and among employees: annual appraisals are no longer fit for purpose. Enter the agile interpretation of appraisals: continuous performance management, or CPM. At the core of CPM is an understanding that communication between leaders and their staff needs to be both more pertinent and timely than it has been, while also diminishing rather than increasing the administrative burden of managers. Ongoing feedback between bosses and staff means a more human relationship where mistakes can be rectified faster.
Statistics, however, show that CPM uptake is still very low – although the figure has fallen by 10 per cent over the last six years, 84 per cent of organisations are still using annual appraisals. To learn what is in the way of quicker adoption and how transition can be assisted with software, click here.
Employment is one of more than 20 areas covered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the OECD’s I Am the Future of Work initiative aims “to gather stories, insights and experiences about the way the world of work is changing, and the risks and opportunities it raises along the way”. The initiative acknowledges the positive effect of digitalisation on working lives while also emphasising the importance of sharing the benefits more equally among the global workforce.
To read more about the initiative click here. To listen to an OECD podcast with Monika Queisser, Head of Social Policy at the OECD, on how social security should be retrofitted to new ways of working such as gig and platform work, Uber drivers and MTurks, click here.
In the midst of concerns about the gig economy and the atomisation of people’s jobs comes a timely article article in the New York Times from Andy Newman, who shares his first-hand experience of working for the Mechanical Turk, an obscure segment of Amazon’s empire that is “an uncertain, mystifying and often maddening way to make very, very little money.” The platform – named after an 18th century chess-playing “machine” that actually concealed a human chess master – provides services that computers can’t yet easily perform, for often less than a dollar. These can include such varied and random tasks as transcribing an invoice, taking part in a study, or labelling photographs to teach AI. At the end of the article Newman offers readers an opportunity to try their hands at “mock Turking”.
Source: Zita Goldman, Business Reporter