Reimagining work for the Future of Work: From jobs to superjobs

Part 2: The How

Posted by Arthur Mazor and Kathi Enderes on August 29, 2019.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we looked at why superjobs are emerging. Superjobs are a new breed of jobs that bring together different skill sets and even different jobs that used to be distinct, enabled by technology. Superjobs are evolving both to be able to meet customers’ needs in new or more advanced ways and to make work more meaningful and fulfilling for the people who do the work. In this post, we’ll explore the how of superjobs: how you can go about reimagining work and composing new jobs and the workforce for a more human-centered Future of Work.

Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents to our 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey cited AI and robotics as an important or very important issue in human capital, but only 26 percent of respondents are ready or very ready to address the impact of these technologies. This is not surprising, given how rapidly these technologies have come to the forefront and the magnitude of change they are creating.

What it does suggest, however, is that organizations should think and act differently to approach the challenge—an incremental or reengineering approach is not designed for the scope and scale of disruption all around us. It’s not only technology, AI, and automation that are disruptors, but also the proliferation of data; the increasingly diverse, multigenerational workforce; the rise of contingent work; the lengthening of careers; and the decreasing half-life of skills.

We have found it helpful when working with some of the world’s largest enterprises to reimagine jobs in an iterative fashion:

  • IMAGINE the possibilities to think in a very practical, pragmatic way about how to change work, workforce, and workplace capabilities.
  • COMPOSE the work in new ways to take advantage of the digital capabilities that are available.
  • ACTIVATE those imagined approaches and new ways of doing things in the workforce, working on multiple fronts to help grow skills, change the way work is done, shift the culture, change mindsets, advance rewards, and engage the workforce across generations and locations in these new and different ways of working.

Let’s look more closely at how you might Imagine, Compose, and Activate.

IMAGINE a new vision for human work
The essence of reimagining work is shifting workers’ time, effort, and attention from executing routine tasks to identifying and addressing unseen problems and new opportunities. It’s a whole new way of thinking about work.

Let’s use internal mobility as an example. Avoid the temptation to think about the process of moving someone into a new role or location. Instead, think about the value you want to create through mobility, the problems you want mobility to solve or avoid altogether, the teams or relationships who can accomplish what you imagine, and the ways mobility can be fluid based on individuals’ situations or needs, rather than standardized.

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

COMPOSE new jobs
Once you have a new vision of work and workforce composition, how do you begin to translate that into jobs? A job canvas is a tool to help with this, a next-generation, visionary job description. Traditional job descriptions are typically narrowly focused on skills and tasks, and often outdated as soon as they are created because jobs and duties are rarely static and evolve quickly in line with new technologies, customer expectations, and industry disruptors. Job canvases are human-centered, imagining the core elements of a job in the future, including day-in-the life activities and responsibilities, along with the teams, skills, experiences, tools, and technologies to support the work to achieve the desired outcomes.

ACTIVATE required activities, skills, and capabilities in the workforce
Next, you’ll consider (1) the activities needed to do that work and (2) impacts to the composition of the workforce. For example…

From superjobs to supergrowth
This Imagine-Compose-Activate process can help you to reimagine work and integrate new technologies while valuing and leveraging human capabilities—one of business and HR leaders’ most important and growing priorities. And for a good reason. The advent of these kinds of jobs is enabling organizational growth by helping organizations put more attention into the areas of the business that drive value and meaning —in large part because individuals in these roles are able to focus more on the customer. We’re seeing this intense customer focus in all sorts of industries. Take consumer goods and technology, for example, where AI and cognitive tools, particularly machine learning, are driving insights to better understand the connection between customer interests and buying behaviors.

Superjobs also contribute to the growth of the individuals doing them. As we mentioned in our last post, superjobs rely not just on technical skills, but also on those enduring human capabilities that machines can’t replicate—curiosity, imagination, intuition, collaboration, and emotional and social intelligence. As such, superjobs are inherently more meaningful, provide more room for humans to grow, and tend to be more future proof than jobs built around tactical skills—making them one of the most imaginative and exciting aspects of the Future of Work, bringing meaning back to work.

For more insights, tune in to our recent Dbriefs webinar: From jobs to superjobs: The impact of AI on work.

Arthur Mazor is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and the Global HR Transformation Practice Leader. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.

Kathi Enderes, PhD, is a vice president and the talent & workforce research leader at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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