5 Strategies for Building an Effective Future Workforce

future workforce strategies

Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Smart cities. The internet of things. Augmented reality. In what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, technology is disrupting the way we live and work at a pace, depth, and breadth we’ve yet to encounter. It’s a world where previously inanimate, unconnected machines, vehicles, and gadgets are becoming interconnected and interdependent. It’s a force that’s affecting every country, every industry, every economic sector in our global community.

Workers of the future will operate in an interconnected global marketplace relying on smart technologies that threaten to replace them. Will your organization be ready for the jobs of the future? Use these five competency-based talent management strategies to build your future workforce. 

1) Lead with Data Analytics

A not-so-secret secret of competency-based talent management is that the targets keep moving. The initiatives you’ve taken to integrate your competency model into your workforce development program and processes is a critical first step. Yet, supporting today’s employees in closing their current skills gaps is not enough. To create a talent-ready workforce, look to the data to define future skills (and gaps).

HR data and analytics can help you spot talent trends, provide insights into what’s next, and help you measure how well you’re keeping up with the 4IR disruption. Use forecasting data and planning metrics to map emerging job categories, skills requirements, and supply and demand projections to shape your recruiting, training, reskilling, and performance management priorities. An integrated talent management system, fueled by data analytics, converts talent management intuition into fact-based insight.

2) Recruit for Future Work Skills

Skills disruption is coming … and it’s an urgent concern. To pull off a successful talent management strategy, you must align recruiting and hiring with a longer-term view of organizational needs. First, assess the competencies and determine the talent potential of your current workforce. From that workforce intelligence, determine what skills you’ll need next. Despite fears that robots will take over all jobs of the future, for example, there will still be a need for people to conceive, build and maintain the machines. Finally, strategically hire people who can deliver future skills.

Remember … occupational skills are only part of the puzzle. In addition to job-specific capabilities, future workers will need the right professional and leadership skills to navigate the workplace of the future. As physical and organizational boundaries blur, teams will routinely collaborate across time zones and cultures. As technology innovation continues to accelerate, individuals will need to continually prepare for jobs that aren’t yet imagined. And as organizations learn to adapt at lightning speed, future leaders will need to adeptly harness future talent for optimal organizational performance in a changing marketplace.

3) Make Learning a Constant

Talent gaps cannot be solved with recruitment alone. Gone are the days when employers could simply hire ready-made employees. For accelerating skills gaps, there is no qualified talent pool; no instant hiring fix. As 4IR surges forward to create brand-new jobs – and render others obsolete –ongoing training, retraining, up-skilling, and re-skilling have never been more essential.

Up-skilling and re-skilling can convert potentially displaced workers into valuable contributors. Training and retraining will build the competencies for future jobs across old and new industries alike. A continuous learning program benefits future workers and their employers. It’s a shared responsibility, supported by enabling technologies and motivations. When it works, a culture of learning supports the employment mobility and mid-career transitions necessary for future career trajectories.

4) Seize Workforce Diversity

Just do it. Research consistently demonstrates the many benefits of workforce diversity, while employers lament the difficulty in finding talent for key specialist roles. No more discussion. It’s time to wrestle to the ground outdated perceptions and other barriers to embracing diversity of gender, age, ethnicity, and culture in the workplace.

Technology and data analytics are, once again, useful tools here. Set specific goals regarding talent diversity. Analyze your data and course-correct typical career paths and dead-end jobs. Insist on objective assessments. Uncover and remedy unconscious biases in job descriptions and recruitment processes. Monitor trends for finding and hiring exactly the employees you’re looking for. (Hint: seeking tech-savvy new college grads? Try Snapchat!) If you haven’t already, you may soon adopt wearable technologies to better dismantle obstructive workplace behaviors and shape the inclusive diversity you seek.

5) Build Broad Talent Pools

Future employees will need to master cross-functional roles that require technical, social, and analytical competencies. Succession management, where current employees are tracked and groomed to potentially step in for a key leader who leaves the organization, is an outdated approach. By the time a position is to be filled, requirements for the position have changed.

Instead, HR leaders must be strategically building a talent pool of current and prospective employees, tracking skills, and encouraging ongoing competency development. Support job mobility and job rotation in your organization. When the moment arrives for a new person to step in, you can move quickly to fill a role with someone who has a cross-functional background and the agility to carry them (and the organization) through the next chapter.

4IR is coming. Talent management for the future workforce requires a new mindset and approach. Effective talent management strategies will better position employees and organizations to meet demands and deliver value in the future marketplace.

A strategy is only as strong as its execution. If you get stuck or want to learn more about the benefits of implementing competency-based talent management, read our blog or contact us.

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