Expect Workplace Disruption: Mercer study

It may be a cliché to say the workplace of the 21st century is changing but numbers don’t lie. Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report shows that 73% of executives (out of 7,300 respondents to the survey) predict significant industry disruption in the next three years — up from 26% in 2018.

The report goes on to say that sharp shifts in the future business environment will apply across geographies and industries, although it is most pronounced in the life sciences, consumer goods, and energy sectors. “More than half of executives expect AI and automation to replace one in five of their organization’s current jobs. But this is only half the story, as AI and automation will also create 58 million net new jobs by 2022, according to estimates from the World Economic Forum. This unprecedented shake- up demands new workforce strategies to stay ahead,” says the report

But companies surveyed seem to think transformation and disruption can be handled well. Four out of five executives believe their company can lead disruption in their industry, and nearly all are taking action to prepare for the future of work. The report further states that with transformation come significant human capital risks. Risks mentioned include:

  • 52% worry about excessive time to fill open positions
  • 43% are concerned with low or declining employee engagement
  • 40% feel there is a lack of adequate diversity in their organizations
  • 38% think they have a “thin leadership pipeline”
  • 35% worry about ineffective hiring decisions
  • 31% see lagging productivity
  • 30% are concerned with slow decision making

Despite these risks and the knowledge of their existence (or potential) only one in three executives rates their company’s ability to mitigate people risks as “very effective.” This perception may be based on a lack of focus — only 29% of HR leaders strongly agree that their business executives prioritize human capital risks.

The Mercer study identifies four top trends that leading companies will address this year including: aligning work to future value; building brand resonance; curating the work experience; and delivering talent-led change.

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