of leaders say it’s important to identify the skills needed to keep pace with the changing times
of leaders realise that clear communication on purpose and values is very important
of leaders agree that scenario-based planning is important to plan for multiple possible futures
of leaders outline the need to identify risks to the firm caused by decisions to replace human work with technology
From virtual to hybrid – over the last couple of years, there has been a significant change in the way we work. If productivity and connectivity were the driving forces of the virtual world after the onset of the pandemic, it’s a plethora of choices combining the physical and virtual that govern the hybrid world to which we are now shifting.
With a change in work, workplace, work culture and workforce dynamics, accelerating the transformation journey at the workplace is now a priority with most organisations.
Our report, People and culture first: Transformation journey in the future of work, deals with all this and more. It is based on the global Future of Work and Skills Survey conducted in September 2021 in which nearly 4000 business and HR leaders across 26 countries and 28 sectors participated. The report provides insights into the challenges and impediments that often prevent organisations from becoming future ready, and highlights the necessity of empathising and simultaneously embracing debate and dissent.
Identifying the risks of replacing human work with technology
Communicating clearly about the effect of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on future skills needs
Providing physical working environments and technology that enable all workers to perform at their best
Over the past two years, the pandemic has forced leaders to question their choices on many aspects affecting their organisations, right from people to culture to technology. They have realised, as this Future of Work and Skills Survey indicates, that along with organisational strategic intent and system optimisation, other actions are to be considered to future-proof organisations and bring about the desired transformation. They need to proactively act on workforce initiatives, build capability in a well-considered way, and, among other things, work towards making their culture more resilient in order to be future ready. This understanding has triggered their identification of six no-regrets moves to prepare for the future of work and win in the workplace before winning in the marketplace.
As organisations face an increasingly uncertain future, planning is more important – and more difficult – than ever before. The main blockers to anticipating and planning for the future highlighted by India leaders were cost pressure, fear of potential consequences of taking action, and lack of business capability to deliver.
Recognise ‘prioritising and sense making’ as an organisational capability that is critical to drive investment decisions. Leaders need to be aware that committing to both types of planning – scenario based and dynamic – infuses a flexibility that factors in the depth of possibilities and breadth of capabilities.
Building trust in the organisation with the leadership ably setting the tone at the top is a significant lever to prepare for the future of work. PwC research has demonstrated that people want to work for employers that show they care. They also want the organisations they work for to live up to their purpose and values. But now, as organisations move to virtual and hybrid workplaces, they face the hard reality of building commitment and driving joint success without building personal bonds.
Democratise the workplace concept to focus on a ‘workplace of the people’ as against a ‘workplace for the people’. Building trust entails an open and inclusive organisational culture, where people take equal ownership of their workplace to deliver their best.
Gone are the days of monitoring employees. Now is the time for leaders to build an environment that supports sustainable and consistent productivity. But productivity shouldn’t emerge at the expense of well-being; rather, it should be an outcome of well-being. The main blockers to optimising workforce productivity and performance, as highlighted by India leaders, were issues with systems and data, cost pressure, organisational culture and competing investments or priorities.
Use technology to enable productivity and performance, while management enables culture. If productivity and performance are measured by technology, management could primarily focus on building organisational culture.
It’s imperative that businesses create a culture of continuous learning, invest in systems and maintain an inventory of current and future skills to leverage learning and development as a competitive advantage. But the main blockers to enabling the skills of the future, as highlighted by India leaders, are related to cost pressure, organisational culture, fear of potential consequences, lack of senior leadership and business capability to deliver and competing investments or priorities.
Prioritise culture as a competitive advantage. Leaders need to build a culture that has a laser focus on the long-term development of people.
Digitisation will continue to be a top concern for leaders and a source of anxiety for workers. But the pandemic proved the importance of technology in engaging customers, freeing employee bandwidth for more intellectual rather than mundane tasks, creating new ways of working and even promoting productivity.
Focus on human-led, tech-enabled ways of working. The future of work demands that people drive technology, rather than being driven by it.
Even as organisations think about how to make in-house workers more agile, it’s important that they increase their recruiting capabilities and simultaneously focus on internal mobility and redeployment by taking initiatives to reskill and redeploy their workforce.
View the organisation in the ‘skills and capability age’. Leaders need to develop the ability to upskill, reskill and enhance in-house workers’ long-term employability and be open to leveraging the gig economy.
The calls to action highlight the need to focus on the following three critical questions to action the six no-regrets moves.
Are we valuing capability and culture to drive organisational performance and productivity?
Are we readying ourselves for the ‘Skills Age’?
Are we holding ourselves accountable for prioritising the right investment decisions?
In September 2021, PwC commissioned a global survey of 3,937 business executives and HR-focused leaders. The survey polled leaders in 26 countries across 28 sectors. Of these, 210 leaders were from India and included 51% senior or business leaders and 49% HR-focused personnel.
Among the 210 Indian leaders who participated:
were from sectors such as banking and capital markets, healthcare, industrial manufacturing, retail and technology, and the rest were from other sectors such as agriculture, education and business/professional services
of the organisations were listed companies
of the organisations had a revenue above USD10 million
The findings in this report have been crowdsourced from
Leader inputs from the Future of Work and Skills Survey
PwC thought leadership
Insights from the Excellence in the new ecosystem: A PwC and NHRDN perspective
Following the launch of People and culture first: Transformation journey in the future of work report, we connected with 50+ industry stalwarts. They provided their perspectives on the future of work, amplifying the implications of our global survey findings for their respective sectors and organisations.
Click here to download the Industry leaders' perspectives report
Global in-house centres (GIC)
There is an urgent need to define and achieve a commonality of understanding on what constitutes ‘hybrid work’ from the standpoints of policy, process, technology and experience, and plan for the rapid scaling of requisite subject matter experts to ensure we execute seamlessly.Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, SunLife Asia Services Centres
Global in-house centres (GIC)
Building agility in the processes, in people and the leadership will be a key differentiator to help organisations deliver to clients and remain in sync with the market dynamics.Vanitha Nitin, CHRO, Allianz Partners, India
Banking and financial services
There is a demand supply mismatch. Industry lines are blurring and the fight for the same talent is getting distributed.Praveena Rai, COO, National Payments Corporation of India
Banking and financial services
The six no-regrets moves [anticipate and plan for the future; build trust in the organisation; optimise workforce productivity and performance; enable the skills of the future; prepare for and deploy technology with humans in mind; build ability to rapidly access and deploy talent] are here to stay. So the question is, will the leadership be an enabler or an impediment?Lakshmi Narasimhan, Executive Director, Shriram Capital Limited
Organisations are required to drive a dual transformation wherein leaders have to address the here and now challenges while preparing the organisation for the future. Technology has significantly altered the pace of this change democratising information availability and decision making. To drive this transformation, it is important that organisations work on building a trust framework with employees, a tough but necessary condition.Rajiv Srivastava, Global CEO, Redington Limited
Getting the six no-regret moves on the agenda of the industry bodies to work upon is crucial to tap into the collective wisdom of the industry leaders. The leaders are aware that it’s a big problem but it requires them to acknowledge it and in parallel work swiftly towards solving it.Ketan Patel, MD, HP India Sales Private Limited
Culture and trust in the organisation go hand in hand for organisational growth. Over the last couple of years, as it has been a remote way of working, people have hardly met in person. For new joinees, the gateway to the organisation has been the laptop they’ve received on the day of joining. They haven’t had a chance to meet the team and therefore culture building has taken a back seat. Further, reskilling and upskilling are now on the must-do rather than nice-to-do list to keep pace with the changing times.Saurabh Govil, CHRO, Wipro Limited
Scenario-based planning is here to stay. The ability to navigate between our definition of long term versus short term - both within and across industries – has been challenged.Kaushik Ray, CHRO, ITC Infotech India Limited
There is a need for organisations to take a fresh look at where they are, what they want to do, the priority areas for them and create a blueprint in order to match the aspirations of the workforce.Suresh Bethavandu, Chief People Officer, Mindtree Limited
Every new organisation needs to co-create its definition of culture and leaders themselves need to imbibe this culture, and lead by example to ensure a top-down assimilation.Samit Deb, Co-founder and Chief of People Success, Navikenz Inc.
Talent communities will become global; the cost of the talent, their time availability and geographical boundaries will be challenged in a couple of years’ time.M Lakshmanan, CHRO, L&T Technology Services
The pandemic has established that however much we anticipate and plan, there will always be a variable of high uncertainty. So dynamism and prompt adaptation skills are going to be pivotal going forward.Sudeep Sharma, Head-HR, HCL Healthcare Private Limited, India