Consultancy Deloitte in its latest 'Human Capital Trends' report says the “social enterprise” which it first introduced in its 2018 'Human Capital Trends' report, has gone to work, with technology and human collaboration at the forefront of discussions.
The 2018 report embodied a new social contract that proposed a more human-centred rewiring of the relationships between the individual and the organisation, and the organisation and society.
“Organisations were being called on to do more than just deliver profit – a bigger call to action – driven by the rise in the power of individuals and raising their voice to influence what organisations were doing,” explains Deloitte Africa human capital lead Pam Maharaj.
Since 2018, the speed and scale of the rise of the social enterprise has continued to accelerate, but as new technologies and digital transformations started dominating as a concern in organisations, human concerns started to conflict with technological advances.
In this year’s report, Deloitte challenges organisations to re-examine whether humanity and technology are truly in conflict with each other and to consider how to resolve the seeming paradox of finding ways to remain distinctly human in a technology-driven world.
The global 'Human Capital Trends' survey has grown from 1 300 respondents in 59 countries in 2013 to nearly 9 000 respondents in 119 countries. About 40% of the respondents were ranked as vice-presidents, with more than 1 500 C-suite leaders also completing the survey.
Deloitte US global human capital leader Erica Volini says Covid-19 has reinforced the consultancy’s conviction that human concerns are not separate from technological advances at all, but integral for organisations looking to capture the full value of the technologies they have put in place.
“Covid-19 has shown that while technology can augment and supplement work, it does not replace what is needed from humans. The health crisis gave people a greater appreciation for the fact that humans and technology are more powerful together than either can be on their own.
“Consider how telemedicine, manufacturing, education and even grocery delivery drew on the power of integrated human-machine teams during the crisis.”
She further mentions that the world has been buzzing about robots taking over human jobs, and yet, Deloitte finds that only 12% of the 9 000 respondents surveyed for this year's report are using artificial intelligence (AI) to replace human workers.
“This gave us hope because it signifies the recognition of the role that humans can play.”
Deloitte's main findings in this year’s human capital trends report are that only 11% of respondents are producing workforce-related insights, at a time when these are needed more than ever.
Further, despite 50% of respondents recognising that people’s skills will change drastically over the next decade, not much investment is going into re-skilling of the workforce.
In fact, Deloitte reports that only one in six respondents plan on investing in retraining and re-skilling.
The consultancy says companies that have focused on technology and human capital as completely different aspects have created a series of conflicts.
Volini explains that the first conflict is between belonging and individuality.
“Technology helps us to individualise almost everything. But as humans we desire a sense of belonging. How do we bridge that gap and still preserve that focus on individual uniqueness, but also the connection towards a greater sense of belonging?
“We know that technology promotes reinvention, but as humans we desire a sense of security when making bold decisions,” she adds.
Volini notes that organisations need to bring together these forces of humans and technology and unleash the power that can be provided when they are combined.
To resolve these conflicts and bring the two aspects together, organisations need to establish new ways of thinking and being.
For example, what if, workers’ individuality can become a source of strength, bringing together unique, complementary abilities in the pursuit of shared goals?
“We are talking about creating a connection between the organisation and what an individual is doing on a daily basis, not just lofty policies and mission statements.
“Workers need to feel that they are making meaningful contributions to not only the organisation, but society. This fosters a sense of belonging,” states Volini.
Further, Deloitte believes wellbeing needs to be embedded into the work itself. The way that work is designed should promote a sense of wellbeing, making workers feel connected with their teams and the broader organisation.
“We need to move past generations – organisation are still classifying their workforce by generation. Those generational differences are narrowing and now we have the opportunity to segment the workforce at a deeper level, an individual level.
“When you start to understand individuals at that level, you can design workforce programmes to create belonging, wellbeing and connection, using individuality as a source of strength to the work that people are doing on a day-to-day basis,” Volini adds.
Further, potential is necessary to solve the paradox between security and reinvention. What if, instead of being perceived as a threat, reinvention could become the means for finding security in the midst of ongoing change?
Deloitte reports that when we look at organisations today, we find that most do not design their workforce programmes based on their potential, but what is on their resume.
Volini says organisations need to rather bring out the potential of the workforce. “We have seen workers shift almost immediately into remote working environments, take on new roles, do work in new ways, so how can we provide the infrastructure to maximise workers’ potential.
“Organisations also need to have workers form ‘superteams’ with AI, through a collaboration strategy.”
Moreover, Deloitte finds that most organisations do not now that new skills will be needed for the future. They also don not have the money to continue to invest in re-skilling.
Volini suggests that organisations shift from building resilience in the workforce and capitalising on their potential.
Moreover, the respondents indicated that human resources (HR) will continue to remain a distinct function in an organisation, but Deloitte says that, for it to remain relevant, the HR function needs to expand its focus to the whole workforce – including the AI involved and the work that is being done.
Volini says HR departments need to extend their influence too, to play a role in the enterprise and the ecosystem of the organisation. The social enterprise calls for thinking beyond the organisation and into the community as well.
“Human resources needs to focus on building new capabilities, we need to see the chief human resources officer increase their stature within the organisation, invest in technology to make their work more efficient.”