In the modern era of rapidly evolving technology, steady digitalization of business processes and shifting worker expectations, businesses need to work hard to keep up with the pace of change.

Workforce planning should be a top priority for company leaders in this exciting but chaotic time. This will help you future-proof your organization and prepare your people for the challenges and opportunities to come. 

Whatever the coming years might bring, your business and its employees need to be ready for change. That will mean keeping your finger on the pulse of the labor market, tracking the latest tech trends and reskilling your workforce.

preparing for the future of work

It's difficult to predict with any certainty what the future will bring for employers, but every business can feel sure that change will manifest itself in some way or another.

This could come in various forms. Disruptors could come along and reinvent how things are done in your industry, new technologies could give you the potential to transform and optimize your core processes, or emerging labor market trends could require you to update your recruitment methods. As businesses saw with COVID-19 in 2020, it's also possible that a completely unforeseen crisis could emerge and affect entire sectors.

To be prepared for change, you need a diverse, flexible workforce. You need to give your employees the right tech support and skills development opportunities so they can help you adapt to the latest challenges and opportunities.

PwC's Workforce of the Future 2030 report found that 74% of workers are ready to learn new skills or retrain to remain employable in the future.

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machine learning and AI will help us do a much better job of workforce planning in the future, but we can't sit back and wait for the future of work to happen. Those organizations and workers that understand potential futures, and what each might mean for them, and plan ahead, will be best prepared to succeed.

Jon Williams, partner and joint
global leader, people and organization at PwC.

practical steps to future-proof your workforce

So what actions and processes can you start putting in place right now to build the workforce of the future?

One vital step is to analyze your current skill sets and think about the capabilities you're likely to need to stay flexible and ultimately succeed in the future. If this brings attention to some clear talent gaps, you can start to plan strategies for addressing them, whether that's through recruitment or reskilling the workforce you already have.

If you choose to go down the recruitment route, you'll need to focus on concepts like your employer brand and whether it's strong enough to attract the people you need. It's also worth considering the benefits you could achieve from working with a dedicated HR partner.

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, there are many advantages to be gained from investing time and resources in finding an approach that works for the business and your employees. People who feel that their employer is committed to helping them learn new things, expand their skill sets and progress in their careers are more likely to feel happy, engaged, and ultimately to stay in their jobs.

Deloitte's 2019 Millennial Survey showed that some of the most common reasons for millennials to want to leave their current organization in the next two years were:

  • Not having enough opportunities to advance (35%)
  • Lack of learning and development prospects (28%)
  • Feeling underappreciated (23%)
  • Poor work-life balance/lack of flexibility (22%)
  • Boredom/not being challenged (21%)

Other key findings in the research showed a strong correlation between people planning to stay in their current jobs and saying their employer delivered on financial performance, community impact, talent development, and diversity and inclusion.

Employers around the world face a "huge upskilling challenge" and a potential "workforce crisis consisting of an overall labor shortage plus a skills mismatch", according to Boston Consulting Group. The firm highlighted six steps businesses can take to meet this challenge and future-proof their workforce:

  1. Create a strategic workforce plan
  2. Launch targeted upskilling programs 
  3. Embrace learning contracts
  4. Adopt the latest learning technologies
  5. Build a continuous learning culture
  6. Extend upskilling to the wider society

If you're looking for new ways to leverage and deploy talent within your organization so you're ready for the tests and opportunities of tomorrow, the support of a specialist partner like Randstad Risesmart could prove invaluable.

are you focusing on the right areas?

To optimize your workforce planning and prepare employees and your business for what the future could bring, it's vital that you're concentrating on the right concepts. 

Randstad has created a guide that highlights six key areas you need to focus on to assess your readiness for the future of work, spanning topics from employer branding to flexibility and diversity.

about the author

sofie maervoet

vp global concepts staffing

Sofie is one of the staffing leaders in Randstad with a track record in process optimization, training and coaching. She started her career as a staffing consultant in Randstad Belgium in 2002. Later, she joined the team in Randstad Switzerland as concept manager until she joined the global concept development team in 2018.

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