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The Future of Work: Key takeaways for your organisation

Ask any CEO to list the business-critical challenges they’ll face in the year ahead, and you’ll likely see a list that includes talent shortages, the impact of technology, productivity concerns and a desire to optimise costs, albeit in various guises.
These challenges are discussed so frequently that they are at risk of losing their impact. Have we become so accustomed to the concept of skills shortages that we’ve started to simply accept a ‘battle’ for talent?
We need to turn the dial on strategies that will help us prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.
While we can’t control the socio-economic environment or sway the geopolitical landscape, nor dictate the legislation that will shape how we engage with workers, organisations must leverage their resources to shape a workforce strategy that can contend – and even thrive – amidst volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity.
But they’ll need contemporary insights, a wealth of data and third-party expertise to realise this ambition.
‘The Executive Edge’ is our response to a shared need for greater insights and understanding. I was recently joined by colleagues David Spence (Global Head of Growth, Enterprise Solutions), and Ruth Munday (Global Head of Client Development, Enterprise Solutions) to dig deeper into the issues facing CEOs and their teams – as well as their insights for shaping a smarter workforce strategy.
Below, I detail my key takeaways from the discussion. Head to the Hays YouTube channel to view the conversation.

The right talent is key, but at the right price

We’re now operating in a largely post-pandemic state, but economic instability persists for many organisations.
As demand soared for so many businesses during periods of restricted movement and with the safeguard of government funding to mitigate the loss of jobs, we witnessed an almost manic approach to hiring. The focus was on increasing capacity, regardless of cost or contract type.
Fast-forward a year, and this mentality has left some organisations facing financial difficulty and with an urgent need to rethink their hiring strategy. Ruth neatly summarised the sentiment shared by our clients, stating: “Access to talent is still a key priority, but no longer at any cost”.
Indeed, a recent LinkedIn poll across our Enterprise Solutions network illustrated that 39% of leaders view ‘Financial considerations’, including cost savings, as a top priority for their organisation in the year ahead.
Like so many of these complex challenges, there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution. But forward-thinking organisations will seize the opportunity to reshape “how work gets done.” This may include:
  • Implementing high-value upskilling initiatives across the organisation to hone the talent you already have in-house.
  • Engaging with a greater array of contract types, to leverage contingent or ‘Cloud’ talent, for example.
  • Broadening the scope of your location strategy, building targeted cross-border strategies to identify and attract the skills in-demand.

Talent planning has never been more important

As cost pressures continue to dominate conversations, organisations can no longer rely solely on a competitive salary to win the battle for talent.
For Ruth, a carefully considered plan to attract, identify and engage with the talent needed will become increasingly important. Organisations will need to ensure complete clarity when it comes to their current skills capabilities and how these measure against their future objectives.
Identifying the capability gaps is critical to enable organisations to bridge their talent needs, whether that be via more strategic talent pipelining, reskilling initiatives or by outsourcing specific skills demands to contract or freelance workers.

Moving from promise to process

David kickstarted the conversation on technology by highlighting the enormity of change - and disruption - facing so many organisations. Indeed, 85% of companies surveyed by the World Economic Forum identified increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends ‘most likely’ to drive transformation in their organisation.
What I found more interesting, however, was the spotlight David shone on the sheer enormity of the task ahead. So many businesses are excited by the prospect of Generative AI and Robotic Process Automation, for example, but David reflected on the current demand for analytics and data that we’re seeing across our partnerships with clients.
“We are now bolting an awful lot of systems into the process, across both permanent and contingent recruiting. That means you [the client] have data points coming from a wide variety of sources.”
How can we turn these numbers into insights – and critically – actions, that will enable organisations to move the needle on their key strategic priorities?

In the face of uncertainty, resilient teams are critical

Organisations have become familiar, and perhaps even ‘friendly’ with change, adapting to hybrid and remote working models at pace, implementing new technologies and integrating an emerging generation of workers into a world of work that has undergone seismic shifts over the last five years.
But CEOs are looking ahead to further ‘shocks’ and upheaval. Persistent economic uncertainty and rising inflation rates, as well as geopolitical instabilities and its impact on supply chains and energy prices, to name just a few, are causing executives to “take their eyes off the ball.”
Organisations need to respond to this uncertainty with agility, building resilient teams that can withstand – and even thrive – amidst instability. For David, this means taking time to translate the five key pillars of resilience into the world of work, from self-awareness to building positive relationships and creating a shared sense of purpose.
Ruth added that it’s also about future-proofing your people strategy, ensuring we anticipate change and remove some of the risks, wherever possible:
“This might look like having the right balance of in-house and external providers managing the talent function, making sure that you have a variety of options – and the right data – informing your supply chain decisions, on how demand may change, or even how workforce needs may change.”

Let’s think beyond

We’re striving to be lifelong partners to our clients, enabling organisations to leverage the deep understanding we’ve accrued from leading the world of workforce management for over 50 years.
This roundtable is the first in a series called ‘The Executive Edge’, bringing you contemporary insights to gain a competitive edge in the world of work. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting project, and in the meantime, head to our YouTube channel for the first in this series of expert insights from the Enterprise Solutions team. 



Nigel Kirkham
CEO of Enterprise Solutions at Hays
"Nigel Kirkham has spent the last 30+ years driving growth in major global businesses. A strong, transformative Chief Growth Officer, he brings a Big 6 Consulting Partner background as well as large-scale BPO and outsource business experience. A blend of strong business acumen and C-level operating experience help deliver high revenue growth and business expansion. His most recent positions include TMF Group, the global Financial Services business where he sat on the ExCo as Chief Client Officer; Avanade, the JV between Accenture and Microsoft, a global tech giant and largest implementor of Microsoft technology in the world, where he was Global Head of Sales; CSC (Computer Science Corporation), the tech giant (now DXC Technology), where he ran several Industry Verticals, including Financial Services, Retail & Consumer Goods, Transport and Technology. Prior to this he ran Xansa’s consulting business in the US, where he was based in New York. He also spent 12 years in KPMG Management Consulting, the last 5 years as a Partner in KPMG Consulting in the UK. In this role he also spent c 4 years in the Middle East, setting up and running KPMG’s business in the Lower Gulf, where he was based in Abu Dhabi.
Outside of work, he spends his time between houses in Hampshire and Cornwall in the UK, with his partner Daisy. His son Toby works as an Account Executive for Sony Entertainment, and his daughter Milly has recently started a Graduate Management Training programme with tech giant DXC Technologies. ".

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