HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Future Human Capital Trends: From Super Jobs to Social Enterprise

Between the war for talent, automation, the surge in gig workers, and independent contractors, everyone wants to know where this whole work thing is headed.

Source: nd3000 / shutterstock

Recently, Deloitte Consulting LLP put together its “2019 Human Capital Trends Report.” I had the chance to speak with Brad Denny, Principal at Deloitte, to discuss some of its interesting findings.

HR Daily Advisor: In the report, you mention how future jobs will be less routine but will help create “super jobs.” Can you explain what that means?

Denny: As automation, cognitive technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) increase and perform routine tasks, jobs will need to be redesigned. These jobs will be more data-driven and machine-powered and require human skills such as problem solving, communication, interpretation, and design.

When these new jobs also combine aspects of two jobs that were previously completely distinct, we get a super job. Essentially, a super job requires a good breadth of technical and soft skills and combines them with parts of different traditional jobs while leveraging the productivity and efficiency gains that you get when people work with smart machines, data, and algorithms.

HR Daily Advisor: Many professionals are worried about the pace of skill development in the workplace. Add to that real problems with finding good talent, and you have a recipe for disaster. Did your report reveal anything about how professional learning might evolve in the future?

Denny: Yes. In fact, this was the number one issue in this year’s report. We believe that learning will move to a new module, just as IT teams have evolved from sequential “waterfall” design-develop-test-operate models to new agile models, sometimes known as “devops,” that integrate system design, development, security, testing, and operations into a team-based, connected process. In similar fashion, we anticipate new approaches to integrating learning and work to arise, perhaps combining development and work into “devwork”—building on the realization that learning and work are two constantly connected sides of every job. To help enable the creation of this “devwork” environment, we anticipate that business and HR leaders will need to:

  • Seek out opportunities to integrate real-time learning and knowledge management into the workflow. With cloud-connected mobile and wearable devices becoming almost omnipresent and the introduction of augmented reality devices, organizations will be able to explore new approaches to virtual learning in which learning occurs in small doses, almost invisibly, throughout the workday.
  • Make learning more personal so that it is targeted to the individual and delivered at convenient times and modes so that people can learn on their own time. Here, technology can play an important role. With growing numbers of learning providers now offering video-, text-, and program-based curricula in smaller, more digestible formats, organizations have an opportunity to craft approaches that allow their workers to learn as and when they see fit.
  • Integrate learning with the work of teams as well as individuals. As teams become more important in the delivery of more types of work, organizations will offer learning opportunities that support individuals as members of teams, providing content and experiences specific to the context of a worker’s team.

As this happens, learning will become jointly owned among HR, the business, and the individual (who often knows what he or she needs to learn before HR or the business).

HR Daily Advisor: What is social enterprise? What can it add to the work landscape?

Denny: A social enterprise is an organization whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. This includes listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world. It is an organization that shoulders its responsibility to be a good corporate citizen (both inside and outside the organization), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organization.

Leading a social enterprise is about recognizing that while businesses must generate a profit and deliver a return to shareholders, they must do so while also improving the lot of workers, customers, and communities in which we live. And in today’s world, with today’s societal challenges, fulfilling this aim requires reinvention on a broad scale. This is about more than corporate purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR). They are important, and while average workers may be inspired by CSR, it does not give them meaning every day.

By focusing on bringing the human identity back to work, an organization can create meaning for its workers. The biggest gaps that we uncovered in this year’s “Global Human Capital Trends” report all centered on meaning: a sense of belonging (gaps in needing to get to the future of work), a sense of esteem (gaps in the future of the organization), and self-actualization (gaps in the future of HR).

By keeping in mind the future of work, the future of the organization, and the future of HR itself, a social enterprise is best positioned to help bring meaning back to work.

In part two of this article, we’ll revisit our discussion of the report with Deloitte’s Brad Denny and learn how and why companies need to make business about the human element, useful approaches to hiring over the next 5–10 years, and some of the more surprising findings of the report.