In the modern era of rapidly evolving technology, continuous digitalization of business processes and shifting worker expectations, one thing is certain: businesses must work hard to keep up with the pace of change.  

Whatever the coming years might bring — and whatever uncertainties unfold — your business and its employees must be ready for change. Having a robust workforce strategy in place will help your organization prepare for the future and successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities yet to come.

Illustration telescope

Prepare your employees for the future of work.

Download our guide, ‘how to future-proof your workforce’

how to build a workforce of the future

Are you ready to prepare your organization for the future of work? Below is a look at some key areas  you should focus on to prepare your workforce for future challenges and opportunities.

create a flexible and agile workforce

While it may be difficult to predict with certainty what the future will bring, every business leader can feel confident that change will manifest itself in one way or another.

For example, new technologies could provide the potential to transform and optimize your core business processes, or emerging labor market trends could require you to update your recruitment methods. On the other hand, shifts in customer expectations or supply chain disruptions may require your company to scale its workforce up or down with little to no notice.

Organizations that create agile workforces are better prepared to navigate through the uncertainties of the future. Agility in the workplace allows for greater flexibility and enhances project predictability. These benefits, in turn, can improve business outcomes, including customer satisfaction and quality control.   

Agility in the workplace is not a new workforce strategy. But given the rapid change in today’s markets, agility has become a necessity, not an option. There are several steps you can take to build greater flexibility and agility into your workforce, such as:

use of contingent workers

The use of alternative workers, including contingent, temporary and gig workers, is quickly transitioning from the exception to the norm. Some experts predict half the U.S. workforce will consist of alternative workers by 2027. In Europe, growth in the number of freelancers is outnumbering standard employment in several countries, including the Netherlands, France and the U.K.

This rise in the use of alternative workers makes perfect sense. For example, retailers can benefit from the use of contingent workers to help manage seasonal sales. Manufacturing is another industry that benefits significantly from maintaining a contingent workforce. This type of flexible scheduling allows businesses to scale up or scale down their workforce to meet the current demand.

cross-training workers

Cross-training employees is the process of training your workers to handle multiple roles within the company. There are several strategies you can use to cross-train your workers, including in-house training, mentorships and apprenticeships. Cross-training is also an effective way to deal with retiring employees. It allows your seasoned employees to share their experience and expertise with other workers prior to retirement.

cross-training offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • increase productivity
  • build flexibility and agility into the workforce
  • enhance employee engagement
  • improve employee satisfaction
  • boost retention rates
  • identify and build leaders within the company

Once trained, your company can immediately transfer these employees from one role to another as needed. This strategy can help your company adapt quickly to any changes or obstacles in the workplace.

embrace HR technology

Rapid advancements in HR technology are simplifying the workforce management process. They're also helping employers prepare for the future of work. For example payroll roll and Employee Relations Management (ERM) software, gives employers the ability to track and analyze workforce data instantly. This capability allows employers to identify workplace issues or gaps and overcome these challenges before they lead to costly workplace disruptions, such as increased turnover, higher overtime or production shutdowns.

Secondly, the right HR technology, such as Human Resources Management System (HRMS), can improve your company’s ability to accurately predict its future workforce needs. This includes everything from predicting future sales needs to identifying emerging market trends to detecting specific skills gaps within the company. These insights can help employers prepare their workers for the future by ensuring they have the right tools, training and resources. 

Finally, HR technology can help streamline recruitment and workforce management processes and improve overall efficiencies and outcomes. This capability is crucial at a time when acquiring skilled talent is more difficult than ever before and employee retention has become a top priority for employers.


acquire skills for the future

Due to the emergence of new technologies, digitization of business processes and rapid growth of automation in the workplace, the skills needed in the workplace today are much different than those of just a few years ago.

Our 2022 Global In-Demand Skills Report shows that the following are the most in-demand skills today:

  • artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)
  • cloud computing
  • big data
  • business intelligence and data visualization (BI/DV)
  • user interface and user experience (UI/UX)
  • mobile app development
  • cybersecurity
  • customer service
  • sales and business development (BD)
  • financial management/budgeting and accounting

While not every job on this list may pertain to your business, it’s important to understand exactly what skills your company needs both today and in the future. It’s also important to identify any gaps between the skills your company already has in place and the skills it still needs to acquire. This step can be achieved by conducting a comprehensive skills assessment. If this brings attention to clear talent gaps, you can start to plan strategies for addressing them — whether 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. Unfortunately, the ongoing labor shortage and skills gap are already making it hard for employers to acquire the skills they need. According to a recent Gartner survey, 64% of IT executives cite the labor shortage as the main culprit in preventing the implementation of new technologies.  

It's also worth considering the benefits you could achieve from working with a dedicated HR solutions partner like Randstad. This partnership may help you connect with pre-vetted talent with skill sets that match your set criteria.

invest in employee training and career development

While creating a robust recruitment strategy to acquire some of the most sought-after skills is a vital tactic, it may not be enough to meet your company’s current and future needs. It’s equally important to build a strategy for acquiring these skills in-house by investing in training your current workers.

The good news is that today’s workers want to learn. 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. According to Jon Williams, partner and joint global leader, people and organization at PwC:

‘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.’

Emerging technology can significantly improve business efficiencies, and the good news is that your workers are willing to embrace these new tools. It’s your job as an employer to develop workforce strategies that merge these two components and future-proof your workforce to ensure continued business success. 

Unfortunately, employers around the world are facing a ‘huge upskilling challenge’ and a potential ‘workforce crisis consisting of an overall labor shortage plus a skills mismatch.' It’s crucial to take steps now to train your employees for the future of work.

According to Boston Consulting Group, there are six steps your organization can take to meet this challenge and future-proof its 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.

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.

stay up to date on the latest recruitment and labor market news, trends and reports.