The future of work has been a topic of constant discussion in the past few years as technologies such as blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence have began to play a more significant role in the workplace.
One of the more interesting analyses of the way the workplace is changing is the annual Human Capital Trends report from Deloitte, the latest of which was published recently.
The survey examines numerous trends involved in the management of people at work, and with respondents from 124 countries around the world, it’s one of the more comprehensive attempts to do that.
The rise of the social enterprise
The biggest trend is something Deloitte refer to as the rise of the social enterprise. It sees organizations judged not solely on their profitability but on the impact they have on society as a whole.
Businesses are increasingly expected to fill the leadership vacuum that has been vacated by governments. Citizens actively want businesses to do the right thing on important issues, such as diversity, income inequality, cybersecurity and healthcare. They demand that they play a key role in making the world a fairer and better place.
This trend is also being driven by technological factors, such as the rise in AI technologies that bring both great promise and great uncertainty to the workplace.
“People increasingly realize that rapid technological change, while holding out the promise of valuable opportunities, also creates unforeseen impacts that can undermine social cohesion,” the authors say. “Many stakeholders are alarmed, and they expect businesses to channel this force for the broader good.”
The development of a social enterprise requires several trends to be mastered:
- A cooperative c-suite – too often leaders focus only on their particular silos, therefore failing to work effectively as a team.
- Smarter rewards – employees increasingly want rewards to be personalized, agile and holistic, but whilst a growing number of organizations appreciate that, very few are actually delivering it.
- Shift from career to lifestyle – whilst our work remains important to us, it’s increasingly common for people to regard it as just one part of our lives. The desire to do new things and continually reinvent ourselves is a growing part of this shift.
- Addressing societal challenges – we are already facing difficulties due to ageing populations, but this is only likely to worsen in the coming decades. Organizations will also need to behave in an ethical way as society judges them on their wider impact rather than just profits.
- Getting to grips with technological change – it wouldn’t be complete without an exploration of technology, and the report covers a range of issues, from ensuring AI and automation are developed with humans in mind, to ensuring that data is handled responsibly.
“The rise of the social enterprise requires a determined focus on building social capital by engaging with diverse stakeholders, accounting for external trends, creating a sense of mission and purpose throughout the organization, and devising strategies that manage new societal expectations. At stake is nothing less than an organization’s reputation, relationships, and, ultimately, success or failure,” the authors conclude.