How to Build Organizational Resilience with a New Work Operating System – BRINK – Conversations and Insights on Global Business

The pandemic did not invent the workforce issues of accelerated digitalization, flexible working, reskilling and upskilling or diversity, equity and inclusion, but it did. certainly exacerbated and accelerated. The combination of these issues has created two significant risks for businesses.

First, the world of work in which organizations have invested is no longer fit for purpose. The digitalization and democratization of work require fundamentally different ways to connect talent to work. Using work options such as automation and gig workers presents both opportunities and risks.

Second, the established functional response to labor and labor issues is no longer fit for purpose. Today’s hiring policies, compensation administration, and workforce planning, to name a few, all meet new challenges with old solutions.

So, is it surprising to see companies of all sizes and in all sectors struggling with talent management while responding to the opportunities presented by digitalization?

If the ways we think about work and our organizations are no longer creating value, then it’s time to rethink both and introduce new ways of working — a new system of operating work. In a new work operating system, organizations can apply four principles to create the internal changes needed to cope with the external moment, whether it’s pandemic, supply chain and inflationary issues. today, or unknown future disruptions.

Start with work, not work

Organizations are holding themselves back by continuing to define work as “jobs” and workers as “employees with jobs”. In a new work operating system, current and future work is deconstructed into the skills and abilities required to perform the given tasks. Freeing work from “job” is an act of agility. By doing so, organizations can more clearly isolate the best option for performing a given set of work, whether through an employee, AI, or gig worker.

Merge humans and automation

From business leaders to employees, most people tend to see a binary narrative between automation and jobs. And while that may be true in some circumstances, an “either/or” mindset artificially limits organizational opportunity. By deconstructing jobs, leaders see more clearly where a particular type of automation (robotic process automation, machine learning, collaborative robotics, etc.) can substitute for human labor, augment worker skills, or transform human labor. In fact, a third of executives say the impact of automation on jobs will deliver the greatest return on investment over the next two years, according to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report.

Imagine the full range of human work engagements

The pandemic has thrust the world into alternative work arrangements as remote work has become mainstream for many workers. This experience reinforced the desire of many, but especially women and minority populations, to demand continued flexibility in the future.

In the new system of labor exploitation, managers think beyond the organization of work into fixed jobs. Instead, they’re considering different ways talent can engage with work. Internal and external talent markets, which match workers with available opportunities, potential roles and training based on their skills, interests and preferences, have grown in popularity, for example. Marketplaces enable the rapid deployment of employees or gig workers to where their skills are needed most.

They also provide a framework for borrowing talent from other departments or companies. Surprisingly, 40% of executives say they used AI-powered tools to uncover skills insights and fuel their internal talent markets last year. According to Mercer’s report, an additional 48% plan to invest in such technologies this year.

Bringing talent to work

Limiting human labor to performing specific roles that people are hired to perform has far too high a friction cost for our fast-paced world. Forward-looking organizations eliminate this cost by bringing more and more talent to work.

Specifically, forward-looking companies will embrace three models of connecting talent to work: fixed, flexible, and dynamic. Fixed roles will continue to be used in situations where a practical workload or compliance requirements necessitate more traditional work. Flexible roles involve talent in a traditional job, but with the flexibility to express their skills or learn new skills in another function. Flow roles, meanwhile, won’t be tied to jobs, completely and seamlessly connecting talent to projects and assignments by matching skills to specific tasks.

These four principles can generate unprecedented organizational resilience and agility. It is important to note that reaping these benefits does not require an immediate and complete overhaul of the organization. Instead, most companies can probably identify one or two areas where prototyping the new business operating system can provide immediate benefits. There may be areas where work changes so quickly that traditional job descriptions and training can’t keep up. Or maybe automation presents new opportunities. There may be areas where it is difficult to find full-time workers for certain positions, and new work arrangements are being considered to fill the gaps. However a new work operating system is tested, it can coexist with more traditional systems while building an organization’s ability to adapt and transcend the more conventional concept and restrictive of “work with jobs”.

The rapidly changing nature of work requires a new system of operating work. To successfully implement it, boards of directors will need to fully understand and master the changing risk profile associated with the new ways of working. Because while resilience and agility are maximized, continued success relies on the understanding that we all live in a state of perpetual obsolescence.

Aubrey L. Morgan