Preparing an organization for new technologies and impending changes may seem daunting, especially with much still unknown about how organizations and employees will be affected. But a new research report from ATD, The Future of Work: Technologies, Predictions, and Preparing the Workforce, identifies several practices that talent development leaders can take to prepare for the changes ahead. These practices were associated with future-readiness.
ATD Research surveyed 444 talent development professionals about their organization’s preparations for the future of work. For the purpose of the study, the future of work refers to how advances in technology and transformations in the workplace will impact organizations and their industries in the next five years.
The FindingsThe study found that 57 percent of organizations have had informal discussions about the future of work while 55 percent have had formal discussions. Future-ready organizations were significantly more likely to have had formal discussions about the future of work.
Who should be involved in these formal discussions? At nine of the 10 organizations, senior leaders participate. Managers and team leaders (79 percent), the human resources function (70 percent), and the talent development function (64 percent) are also likely to be included.
While most organizations have made plans as a result of their discussions about the future of work, most also have yet to act upon them. Future-ready organizations, however, were significantly more likely to have already started acting upon their plans. The plan organizations are most likely to have started acting upon is to purchase, develop, or obtain new technology.
The report takes a closer look at how organizations are using many technologies, including big data, automation, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 3-D printing. While some organizations have already begun using technologies, far fewer have deployed training on using them. For instance, a third of organizations are already using automation, but just 15 percent have deployed training on how to use or leverage it; three in 10 organizations are using artificial intelligence, but only 10 percent have deployed training on it.
RecommendationsIn light of these and other findings, as well as interviews conducted with talent development leaders, the study offers several recommendations for how leaders can better prepare their organizations for the future of work. A few of these recommendations are outlined below.
Train employees in new technologies. Among organizations that have started using new technologies, less than half have deployed training on how to use or leverage them. Future-ready organizations were significantly more likely to have acted upon plans to train employees to use and leverage new technologies. For better preparedness, talent development leaders should ensure their staff members are trained to effectively use new technologies.
Develop employees’ future skills. Dana Alan Koch, global lead of learning research and innovation at Accenture, says soft skills will continue to grow in importance. “Teach people uniquely human skills, like complex problem solving and habit formation,” says Koch. Other future skills Koch identifies are curiosity, storytelling, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
Identify reskilling needs. Talent development professionals should consider what jobs may be affected by automation or organizational change and look for other internal positions employees in those roles may be suited for. In the report, Tara Deakin, chief talent and development officer at TD Bank Group, shares how the company identified employees whose jobs were at risk of being automated and used capability mapping to match these employees to different roles within the organization based upon their skills and experience.