New Systems Approach Is Needed To Promote Workforce Development

New Systems Approach Is Needed To Promote Workforce Development

New Systems Approach Is Needed To Promote Workforce Development
While some U.S. workers are finding that their knowledge and skills are no longer up-to-date or in demand on the labor market, many employers are struggling to recruit workers who have the skills and knowledge required to keep their company competitive over the long term, according to a study published by the public policy research organization the RAND Corporation.

The report, “A System That Works: How a New Workforce Development and Employment System Can Meet the Needs of Employers, Workers, and Other Stakeholders,” was published on September 19. The authors observed that as the American workplace changes in response to new technologies, globalization, and demographic shifts, employers still need workers with industry-specific knowledge, but they also increasingly value skills like effective communication and critical thinking.

Applying a systems approach to reconceiving the current workforce development and employment system, researchers attempted to identify the ways in which the system is failing both workers and employers, and to craft a plan for how educators, employers, workers, and other stakeholders can rebuild the current system to bring about the necessary changes.

First, the authors observed, the U.S. workforce development and employment system has changed little since the mid-20th century, and underperforms in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment in which lifelong learning has become essential. They pointed out that as automation and shifting consumer demands have rendered some of the skills individuals learned years ago obsolete, many workers have an immediate need to acquire new knowledge and skills. In particular, researchers noted, there is greater demand for workers who can master information synthesis, creativity, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork; even as there is still substantial demand for skilled workers in positions that do not require post-secondary degrees or specific credentials.

The study also warned, however, that there is currently no well-defined path for workers to get the training they need. According to researchers, post-secondary training and education institutions generally offer the same structure of credentials and degrees they did years ago, and may be constrained in their ability to respond to changing job requirements by a lack of funding. Meanwhile, they added, in the workplace, employers are often willing to pay for additional training only for their more educated employees.

To tackle these challenges, the study’s authors called for the creation of a workforce development and employment system that provides multiple on-ramps for transitioning workers to access training and employment opportunities, while matching workers and jobs. To build this system, the authors recommended developing data, metrics, and tools to monitor the current system in order to identify where it is failing, and where new approaches are warranted. They also suggested using gaming, competitions, and other strategies to measure the impact of policy interventions, and to create an open clearinghouse that collects and shares information about promising approaches.

Big Data Analysis Is Helping Companies Make Better Decisions

Big Data Analysis Is Helping Companies Make Better Decisions

Although companies now have access to increasing amounts of “big data” that could help them improve the speed and quality of their decision-making processes, culture is preventing many companies from optimizing opportunities to derive insights from these data, the results of a survey released on July 25 by professional services firm Deloitte suggest.

The survey, conducted in April 2019, included 1,048 executives at U.S.-based companies who interact with, create, or use analytics as part of their job. The aim of the research was to get a cross-industry perspective on how companies approach business analytics and artificial intelligence, and where these organizations fall along an analytics maturity continuum.

The results indicated that most executives do not believe their companies are insight-driven, with just 37% placing their company in the top categories of the analytics continuum. The remaining 63% of respondents said they are aware of analytics but lack infrastructure, are still working in silos, or are expanding their ad hoc analytics capabilities beyond silos. However, three-quarters of the executives surveyed reported that their organization’s analytical maturity has improved over the past year, and 70% said they expect business analytics to play a bigger role in the next three years than it does currently.

The survey also found that among the 37% of companies in the survey with the strongest analytics cultures, 48% had significantly exceeded their business goals in the past 12 months, making them twice as likely to have done so than the 63% of companies with less robust analytics cultures.

The findings further revealed that executive sponsorship is essential to this level of organizational change, and that the best potential champion is the chief executive officer. The results indicated that the CEO was the lead champion of analytics in 29% of the companies surveyed, and that these companies were 77% more likely to have significantly exceeded their business goals and were 59% more likely to have derived actionable insights from the analytics they are tracking.

However, the survey also showed that most executives are not yet fluent in interacting with data, as 67% of respondents admitted that they are not comfortable accessing or using data from their tools and resources. Researchers pointed out that the proportion of respondents who expressed discomfort with using data was significant (37%) even at companies with a strong data-driven culture.

In addition, the survey showed that while 64% of the executives reported that their organization relies on structured data from internal systems or resources, just 18% said that they have taken advantage of unstructured data, such as product images or customer audio files, or comments from social media. However, the survey also found that the companies indicating that unstructured data are among their most valuable sources of insights were 24% more likely to have exceeded their business goals.

Automation Could Lead To Further Concentrations of Growth

Automation Could Lead To Further Concentrations of Growth

Urban and rural economies across the U.S. have been on diverging trajectories for years, and unless well-targeted interventions are undertaken, automation could further concentrate growth and opportunity, while causing job displacement in rural areas and smaller cities, a recent report published by the McKinsey Global Institute warned.

“The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow,” was published in July 2019. The analysis of 315 cities and more than 3,000 counties showed that the United States can be viewed as a mosaic of local economies, with widening gaps between them.

The report found that 25 megacities and high-growth hubs, which account for around 30% of the U.S. population, have generated most of the job growth in the country since the Great Recession, with the high-growth industries of high tech, media, health care, real estate, and finance making up large shares of these local economies. The study also identified 54 trailing cities and around 2,000 rural counties, which collectively account for roughly 24% of the U.S. population, that have older and shrinking workforces, higher unemployment, and lower educational attainment. Between these extremes the analysis identified thriving niche cities and a larger “mixed middle” with modest economic growth, which together account for around 30% of the U.S. population. The remaining 16% of the population were categorized as residents of extended suburbs of U.S. cities, or the urban periphery.

According to researchers, these different starting points are likely to determine whether communities will have the momentum to cope with automation-related displacement. They projected that the 25 cities and peripheries that led the post-recession recovery will capture 60% of U.S. job growth through 2030, while the mixed middle and trailing cities will see modest job gains. By contrast, the analysis showed, rural counties are likely to experience a decade of flat or even negative net job growth. Researchers added that these shifts are occurring at a time when geographic mobility is at historic lows: while 6.1% of Americans moved between counties or states in 1990, this figure had declined to 3.6% by 2017.

The report also found that although the next wave of automation will affect occupations across the country, displacing many office support, food service, transportation and logistics, and customer service roles, the U.S. economy will continue to create jobs, particularly positions in health care, STEM fields, and business services, as well as roles requiring personal interaction.

Researchers observed that the challenges employers will encounter as a result of these trends will vary depending on the nature, mix, and geographic location of their workforce. For example, researchers noted, the challenges facing a retail or food chain with a distributed customer-facing workforce are not the same as those facing an employer with a geographically concentrated white-collar workforce.

“All employers will need to make adept decisions about strategy, investment, technology, workflow redesign, talent needs and training, and the potential impact on the communities in which they operate,” the report concluded.

New Leadership Approaches Are Needed To Cope With Digital Transformation

New Leadership Approaches Are Needed To Cope With Digital Transformation

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) reshapes how the world lives and works, global executives are using a range of strategies to cope with the pressures of preparing their business and their workforce for this new era, a report recently released by Deloitte found.

Industry 4.0 is defined in the study as the combining of a wide range of technologies—including analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and the Internet of Things—to create digital enterprises that are both interconnected and capable of more informed decision-making.

The report’s findings are based on a survey of 2,042 C-level executives from 19 countries and all major industry sectors conducted in June-August 2018, as well as on interviews with global industry leaders and academics. The survey showed that of the factors the business leaders said they use to evaluate their annual performance, societal impact (34%) was cited as the most important, far ahead of customer satisfaction (18%), financial performance (17%), employee retention/satisfaction (17%), and regulatory adherence (14%). In addition, more than half (53%) of the executives surveyed reported that their societal impact efforts resulted in new revenue streams.

The study also identified four main leadership personas that can serve as models for leaders in dealing with the challenges associated with the Industry 4.0 transformation: the “Social Supers,” the “Data-Driven Decisives,” the “Disruption Drivers,” and the “Talent Champions.”

According to the report, “Social Supers” are leaders who consider societal initiatives fundamental to the profitability of their business, and who are relatively confident in their ability to handle the workforce challenges of Industry 4.0. Compared to the other respondents, “Social Supers” were more likely to report that their workforce composition is prepared for digital transformation (44% vs. 32%), and to indicate that they are willing to train workers (54% vs. 37%).

The report described “Data-Driven Decisives” as leaders who are especially adept at overcoming strategic obstacles, such as organizational silos, that can complicate decision-making processes and hinder innovation by applying a methodical, data-focused approach. The respondents identified as “Data-Driven Decisives” were almost twice as likely as the other leaders surveyed (62% vs. 32%) to say they believe that they are prepared to lead their organizations in capitalizing on the opportunities associated with Industry 4.0.

Meanwhile, “Disruption Drivers” were characterized in the study has having a strong understanding that investment in new innovations is required for growth, and a willingness to invest in technologies designed to disrupt their markets. Compared to the other leaders polled, the respondents labelled “Disruption Drivers” were more likely to say they believe their organization has a clearly defined decision-making process (44% vs. 26%).

Finally, the report described the “Talent Champions” as being especially knowledgeable about the skill sets their company needs, and having a strong belief that their organization currently has the right workforce composition. Compared to the other respondents, the executives identified as “Talent Champions” were more likely to say they embrace their responsibilities to train their employees for the future of work (51% vs. 41%), and that they are willing to invest in technologies to disrupt competitors (42% vs. 32%).

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Employees Call for More User-Friendly Workplace Technology

Employees Call for More User-Friendly Workplace Technology

The vast majority of employees consider the technology they use at work to be less powerful and less intelligent than their personal technology, and want their employer’s processes to be more user-friendly, according to the findings of a global study released on January 22 by The Workplace Institute at software provider Kronos.

The results of the analysis of the impact existing and emerging technologies have on the employee experience are based on data from a survey of 2,807 workers employed in a variety of industries in eight countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.) that was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018.

The survey found that workplace technology frequently fails to meet employee expectations, with nearly half of employees (48%) surveyed worldwide indicating they wish their workplace technology performed just like their personal technology, and only 18% saying they do not want their workplace technology and personal technology to function similarly. The results also showed less than one-quarter of the employees surveyed in Germany (24%), the U.S. (22%), Canada (20%), France (16%), Australia and New Zealand (13%), the U.K. (13%), and Mexico (8%) consider their workplace technology to be more user-friendly than their personal technology.

For example, among the U.S. respondents 51% of employees in the financial sector said they find shopping on Amazon easier than asking their manager to take off a sick day; 53% of contract and field service workers said they consider it easier to talk to personal digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri than to their manager; and just under half (43%) of logistics and transportation workers indicated that they find it easier to book a ride through Lyft or Uber than to find out how many vacation days they have left.

The results further indicated than more than one-third of the employees surveyed worldwide (35%) believe their job is harder than it should be because of outdated processes and legacy technology. This attitude was most commonly expressed by respondents in Mexico (45%), France (43%), and the U.K. (40%). Across industry sectors in the U.S., respondents in state and local government (55%), public safety (53%), and finance (43%) were especially likely to say that outdated processes and technology make their job more difficult. Moreover, just 25% of employees surveyed worldwide disagreed with the notion that their workplace technology makes common activities more complicated by adding extra or unnecessary steps.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that in the U.S., younger workers are less accepting than older employees of inefficient workplace technology: while just 20% of boomers said they think outdated processes and technology make their job harder than it should be, this view was much more common among Gen Xers (34%), older millennials (38%), younger millennials (40%), and Generation Z (39%).

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Companies Should Seek To Leverage the Digital Workplace

Companies Should Seek To Leverage the Digital Workplace

Employees who work in digital workplaces tend to have relatively high levels of productivity and motivation, but organizations should be alert to security risks associated with these technologies, and to the emergence of a gap between employees who are and are not technologically adept, according to a global study conducted by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

The results of the study, “The Right Technologies Unlock the Potential of the Digital Workplace,” were based on interviews conducted in April and May 2018 with 7,000 employees working at organizations based in 15 countries across the globe, including the U.S. The findings revealed that a more digitally-driven workplace has both business and human benefits, and that companies that are less technologically advanced are at risk of falling behind the competition and failing to attract top talent. The study also warned that a clear chasm in employee performance and sentiment is emerging between more advanced digital workplaces and those that use digital technology to a lesser extent, and that companies must be vigilant as more digital-savvy employees are taking greater risks with data and information security.

Specifically, the analysis showed that “Digital Revolutionaries,” or employees identified as those who work in fully-enabled digital workplaces where new workplace technologies are in widespread use, were 51% more likely to report having strong job satisfaction and were 43% more likely to say they feel positive about their work-life balance than “Digital Laggards,” or those who have less access to workplace technology. The findings also showed that Revolutionary employees were also 60% more likely to say they are motivated at work, and 91% more likely to praise their company’s vision.

The study also found that rather than perceiving advancements in digital technology and automation as a threat to job security, most of the employees surveyed are enthusiastic about these technologies, with 71% saying they would welcome a fully automated workplace in the future that allows their employer to build a smarter, more effective working environment. The results further showed almost all of the respondents (93%) think their workplace would be improved through greater use of technology, and large shares are confident that digital technology will result in a more efficient (56%), more collaborative (52%), and more appealing (47%) work environment.

While confirming that the benefits of digital workplaces are wide-ranging, the study also cautioned that cybersecurity remains a challenge for employers. The study recommended that companies seek to adapt to leverage the benefits of new digital workplace technology while simultaneously minimizing security risks organizations by adopting a digital workplace strategy, building collaborative digital workspaces, and incorporating security into the workplace from the ground up.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 61, Issue 7

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2018 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.