Looking for a ‘Future Fit’ amid Coming Disruptions

A new survey finds HR executives are concerned about managing future talent challenges.
By: | March 1, 2019 • 2 min read
future fit

When U.S. business executives look into the proverbial crystal ball, what they mainly see on the talent front is disruption. But what scares them ever more, according to a new study, is the current inability to meet that challenge.

Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, which surveyed more than 7,300 global senior business executives, HR leaders and employees from nine key industries, found that 65 percent of American business executives predict serious disruption in the next three years—a significant 30 percent jump (35 percent) from the same survey last year.

Why so much? For one thing, says Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s career business says, as those same executives seek to “future-fit” their significant human capital risk—mainly closing today’s skills gap and overcoming growing employee change fatigue—today’s strategies can impede transformation progress. Yet, the Mercer study found, managing those concerns is critical: Just 37 percent rate their company’s ability to mitigate human-capital risks as “very effective.”

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“Over the last few years, organizations have moved from anticipation to action in preparing for the future of work. But they risk bewildering people with too much change, ignoring the values individuals admire, and inundating them with endless process,” said Bonic in a statement.

In today’s uncertain environment, Bonic said, employees crave stability. Indeed, Mercer’s study found that job security ranks among top three reasons that employees join and also stay with their employer. On the flip side, 20 percent are concerned that AI and automation will replace them. According to Mercer’s Career Global Solutions Leader Kate Bravery, the way to help employees feel secure is to foster human connections. Thriving employee—those prospering in the areas of health, wealth and career—are twice as likely to describe their role as “relationship focused” and their work environment as “collaborative.”

“The future of work is about connectivity, creating a work environment that appeals to today’s workforce by building a coherent sense of identity, sparking connections, and using data to personalize the experience,” Bravery said.

Mercer’s study also identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing in 2019: aligning work to future value; building brand resonance; curating the work experience; and delivering talent-led change.

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