Insights from IMPACT 2018: The Rise of the Individual in the Future of Work

Posted by Bersin insights on April 5, 2018.

Good leaders know they are in the people business. Among the many challenges facing companies both today and in the future of work is understanding that employees need a lot more than a paycheck from their jobs.

As Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, explained in his opening keynote speech at IMPACT 2018, “companies aren’t companies anymore. They’re a collection of individuals.” It makes sense then that the organization of the future thrives when it recognizes the power of individuals in the workplace. And with social media working like a “nuclear weapon,” a single employee could significantly impact the health of a company’s brand—and ultimately its success. One only needs to look to recent Internet videos gone viral of employees making dramatic exits and being touted as heroes.

“Every single day I see evidence of this rise of the individual,” said Bersin. He called on HR leaders to look not only at their rewards programs but also employee engagement. “HR needs to know it is the people who drive you forward. Respect for the individual and his or her well-being is critical. Every employee should be considered a partner. And that’s true whether the employee is 22 or 62. People are living longer and working longer.” Companies’ ability to take care of these long-tenured employees will also be necessary to stay competitive.

Examples of How Overwhelmed Employees Are1

Source: Deloitte Development LLC, 2018.

To more effectively engage individuals, companies need to look beyond their four walls to understand the issues in the wider world that engage and concern their employees. For example, more than two-thirds of Millennials want to volunteer and give to charity2—pointing to a new ethos in today’s workforce. Organizations and the people who lead them will need to be less financially minded and more “people-centric” to help build trust with individuals by taking on the big issues that people hold dear. According to Bersin, we don’t need more leaders, “we need more leadership.”

Bersin explained how we need an entirely new organization model to respond appropriately. “There’s almost nothing more important to individuals at work than their careers,” he said. “It’s more important than the food in the cafeteria or the foosball table or the benefits. It’s the essence of why they work.”

The Disruption of Existing Career Models3

Source: Deloitte Development LLC, 2018.

As a result, companies should redesign work so people can progress regardless of their current role. And even in a future often dominated by robotics, AI, and other forms of automation, jobs won’t disappear—they’ll move around, creating vast opportunities in the process. “If you figure this out, “said Bersin, “and you understand it, and you apply it, you can just crush your competition.”

The New Organization Model

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018.

Bersin left speakers with five specific mandates as individuals rise to the center of power in business.

Call to Action for Organizations

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018.


Keep up with the conversation! Check back with the Bersin blog for more Insights from IMPACT 2018.

1 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2018,
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.

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