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January 2018
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TD Magazine

The Human Focus

Organizations can prepare for the future by reskilling employees and updating their workforce designs.

Most leaders know their organizations will require different types of talent in the future, but many aren't doing anything about it, even in the fast-paced technology industry. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Korn Ferry, although 64 percent of senior leaders at top technology companies don't think their organizations have the talent needed to deliver on future business strategies, just 27 percent say they are actively helping reskill employees affected by automation and retasking them to other work.

Werner Penk, president of Korn Ferry's Global Technology Sector, sees that as a concerning trend. He believes that as CEOs focus on adding value to their organizations through technology, many have overlooked the importance of human capital and organizational design.

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"I don't agree with that approach," he says. "No value will be created from technology unless people embrace it." And for that to happen, he suggests companies will have to go through a learning curve. "We have to reskill and develop people. We have to develop organizations."

When companies continue to neglect the skills and designs of their workforces, Penk anticipates that they won't survive long. "Many will fail," he notes.

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To ensure sustainability and survival, Penk offers a three-pronged solution. First, he recommends that companies embrace reskilling their existing employees. "It's no longer a nice-to-have; it's absolutely essential," he says. Second, he encourages organizations to move toward flatter workforce designs to fit next-generation talent, which companies will need to recruit to work alongside the talent they reskill. Third, Penk says organizations' top leaders should embrace digital change, suggesting that companies consider adding digital-focused advisers to their boards of directors and governance structures.

Even if talent development professionals can push their companies to make those changes, Penk still sees a challenging yet exciting road ahead. "It's a tough journey that we'll all be moving through in the next few years," he says, "but we also have great opportunities. My glass is always half-full."

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About the Author
Alex Moore is a former writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development. Prior to that role, he served as the research coordinator for ATD, writing content for the research department, managing its Twitter account, and assisting with data collection and analysis. Alex graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in English.
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