Why workforce transformation is critical to the future of work

Posted by Kathi Enderes and Mike Kemp on September 24, 2019.

Expansions in technology, global connectedness, and changing workforce and customer expectations are presenting new opportunities for organizations. But expansion typically brings disruption, as well as pressures and confusion on how to best cope with change. These changes are bringing about the future of work, with accompanying implications for work itself, the people doing the work, and where the work is done. Traditional concepts of talent management and workforce planning only partially address the situation of rapid change. The new world of work requires a holistic, agile, and responsive approach—one that continuously rethinks work, the workforce, and the workplace to accomplish a balanced set of outcomes. The time to understand and implement that approach is now.

From talent management to workforce transformation

Workforce transformation is emerging as an imperative, replacing the decade-old “talent management” paradigm. Integration of the previously distinct and separate notions of talent acquisition, learning and development, leadership development, performance management, and rewards was the key driver of talent management. But, as internal and external disruption continually shifts the landscape, integration of these practices is no longer enough.

We define workforce transformation as: continuously rethinking the identity of the workforce, the nature of work, the skills and capabilities needed to accomplish that work, and where that work can be accomplished in order to lead (not just respond to) marketplace disruption.1

This means that organizations must start much further upstream to rethink work as we know it, consider alternative workforce options as part of their people strategy, and reevaluate workplace options in light of what’s needed for the work to provide value.

Address the “why” with the intended outcomes

As organizations rethink work with new technology and evaluate alternative workforce models and new workplace options, it’s critical to consider the ultimate outcome of these actions. While 80 percent of organizations expect the use of smart technologies to increase, only 13 percent see this resulting in significant job eliminations.2 Rather than focusing on just cost savings for the organization, forward-looking organizations balance cost, value, and meaning in their transformation efforts, looking to create a better experience and broader purpose for their workforce and customers. The bottom line? Rather than eliminating jobs or making humans irrelevant, technology is transforming the role of the workforce to create better outcomes for the organization, the workforce, and customers.

Forward-Looking Organizations Balance Cost, Value, and Meaning in Their Workforce Transformation Efforts


Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019

Three fundamental components are changing

The future of work brings opportunities and challenges in three interrelated areas.

  • The work: How the nature of work is changing to achieve balanced outcomes, requiring new skills and capabilities given automation and augmentation.
  • The workforce: Who can perform the work as it changes and how organizations can close skills gaps by tapping into alternative workforce pools and upskilling the workforce.
  • The workplace: Where the work can get done geographically to maximize collaboration, productivity, and consistency with physical design and technologies.

Work, Workforce, and Workplace are Interrelated Considerations in the Future of Work

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019

Applying an iterative approach to workforce transformation

Change is the only constant in the new world of work. To turn this challenge into an opportunity, organizations can build a muscle of continuous transformation around the work, workforce, and workplace. This muscle is built and flexed through a cyclical three-step process of Imagine, Compose, and Activate.

Continuous Transformation through a Three-Step Process of Imagine, Compose, and Activate

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019

Transformation as a symphonic organization

The new world of work is much more team-based and collaborative, both within and across the organization. To fully leverage the power of teams, workforce transformation activities need to be done as a “symphonic organization,” bringing together Operations, HR, Finance, IT, Legal, Sales, Marketing, and other functions to identify and seize opportunities that create more value for customers, the workforce, and the organization—as well as society in general, since more organizations are taking responsibility as a social enterprise.3

Take the next step

Do you want to learn more? Are you ready to address the future of work?

Bersin has created an interactive workforce transformation framework to illustrate the core components of this topic and define its dimensions, focus areas, and fundamental elements. Members can access this framework today: The Interactive Workforce Transformation Framework.4

Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website.

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

Mike Kemp is a research manager at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP specializing in talent and leadership strategies, workforce analytics, employee selection, and development.

1 The Interactive Workforce Transformation Framework, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Mike Kemp, PhD, 2019, https://digital.bersin.com/article/interactive-workforce-transformation-framework-7784/.

2 2019 Global Human Capital Trends: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/5136_HC-Trends-2019/DI_HC-Trends-2019.pdf.

3 2019 Global Human Capital Trends: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/5136_HC-Trends-2019/DI_HC-Trends-2019.pdf.

4 The Interactive Workforce Transformation Framework, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Mike Kemp, PhD, 2019, https://digital.bersin.com/article/interactive-workforce-transformation-framework-7784/.

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