Have leaders made it to the boundaryless side of the world?
Leadership is the one of the major hindrances in transitioning to a new world of work, according to Deloitte's recent 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report, New Fundamentals of a Boundaryless World.
The report was formulated from the responses of over 10,000 business and HR leaders from 105 countries and focuses on reimagination of the three Ws; work, workforce and workplace. 59% of the respondents said they are prioritising change in the workforce models, clearly showing where they will invest and direct their organisational strategy next.
Art Mazor, Principal and Global Human Capital Practice Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, said, “Workforce, organisational and HR priorities remain at the top of board and C-suite agendas. This year’s ‘Global Human Capital Trends’ insights reinforce the continued prioritisation that we have seen for over a decade of this research. The opportunities for leaders and their teams across all industries are boundaryless and open new frontiers in the relationships of workers, customers, stakeholders and leaders.”
Despite a positive recognition of the need for moving ahead, a boundaryless world manifesting into reality seems far away. While 87% of the respondents accepted the importance of the right workplace model for their organisation’s success, the percent of respondents dropped to 24% when asked if their organisation is prepared to actually start implementing it.
The study also presents significant shifts in workers' expectations. Right from “is this my job”, “does it align with my values” to “who decides where I get the work done,” all aspects call for a departure from the long-established system.
What is 'work'?
In books, the term ‘work’ includes jobs and certain specified tasks and duties. On the ground, however, it is gradually reshaping itself. Deloitte’s skill based organisational survey reveals that 63% of executives are working with teams and on projects that are not part of their current job descriptions. Furthermore, merely 19% of executives and 23% of workers believe the aforementioned, traditional definition of work is still suited to the present day.
The data here shows the changes that have started to make their way into the organisations. Michael Griffiths, Principal and Lead for Deloitte Consulting LLP’s learning consulting practice, commented on this, “While jobs remain the primary way we define work, they are not the only way. Strict job definitions can limit workers’ and organisations’ ability to be agile and innovate in the face of disruption. By moving to a skills-based approach, these organisations can unlock their workforce’s full potential and create a workplace where people have more choice, growth and autonomy in their careers.”
However, as much as this reimagination seems likely to drive inclusiveness, flexibility, and the effectiveness of teamwork, the largest readiness gap is also witnessed here.
While 93% of the respondents consider it important to move away from a job-focused approach for the success of their organisation, only 20% have faith that their organisations will be able to take tangible measures about it.
What does the workforce want?
In today's world, social change comes rapidly and sweepingly, making it crucial for leaders to not just stay updated but be prepared to change as and when times demand. Today's workers are well aware of how corporates impact society, and that is significantly affecting their decisions with respect to the organisation and team they want to work with and the kind of work they want to do.
According to one Deloitte survey, 2 in 5 Gen Z and millennials make sure the job or assignment they undertake is aligned with their values. Meanwhile, organisations that maintain transparency and showcase an unflinching commitment to their mission and purpose witness increment in worker retention and well-being. Around 50% of executives who were surveyed claimed the same.
Steve Hatfield, Principal and Global Future of Work Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, demonstrated the idea, “Workers today have more influence than ever before and have demonstrated a willingness to use it to shape the work their organisations take on, as well as how they do it. To be successful in this new world of work, organisations must abandon the idea of complete control and co-create with workers to shape the new rules and boundaries that will define how they operate.”
The topic of workers' data, then, becomes extremely crucial to the conversation as well. 83% of the executives are of the opinion that blurring of boundaries of the traditional organisational access and control of workers' data is a crucial step towards organisation’s success. The trends report also states that 61% of the organisations have their data ownership either “shared” or “worker-owned.”
What should the workplace look like?
The pandemic first made the virtual workspace the only viable alternative, then proved it resilient even when the crisis was over. The Great Reflection then made workspace a matter of workers' agency. With technological advancements and digital work access, companies absolutely must rethink whatever obsession with physical workspace they still retain.
“Many workers now consider the ability to determine where they complete their work - whether in the office, at home, or elsewhere - to be an inalienable right. They see this as one of the best opportunities to co-create the future of work with their organisation’s leaders and to see those statements of trust in action,” said Maren Hauptmann, Human Capital Leader, Deloitte Germany.
A need for leaders to walk shoulder to shoulder with their workforces has arrived. This is especially important because the gap between the two is huge. While 94% of respondents find leadership capabilities and effectiveness crucial to organisation’s success, less than 23% think their leaders harbour the ability to steer the boat through today's disturbances.
Mark Maclean, HR Transformation Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia, gave an outlook on the urgency of future-ready leadership in the region, “Mirroring the global results, ‘Leading in a boundaryless world’ is also one of the most critical factors impacting countries in Southeast Asia. Here, we are seeing businesses across all sectors being forced to respond to continued disruption."
"Only organisations that are ready to pivot now to redefine work outcomes, implement systems to harness skills and experiences and understand their future skill requirements can transition into a state where they thrive on disruption.”