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Companies Prepare for Work in 2040: Why Being Agile is Key

Featured Events | Mar 16, 2020 |

By Stephanie Trovato

As the future of the workplace continues to change, companies have discovered innovative ways to stay ahead of the game in ways that are beneficial to both the company and the employee. Key corporate leaders brought their open-minded strategies to the Work 2040: Future of Work in a Sustainable World Conference to discuss how they have adjusted their ways of thinking to drive both profit and purpose.

“If you had to advise your own CEO, what would be the things you would tell them they need to do to prepare for the changes?” asked moderator Chris Lowney, vice-chair of the board of CommonSpirit Health, and bestselling author of Heroic Leadership. The answers differed in detail, but carried the common theme of optimism. Each executive stated a positive outlook on the changes the workforce will experience in the future and the belief that job markets will continue to remain strong.

What Do Companies Need to Change?

Common themes of the discussion centered around agility, adaptation and versatility. Dan Black, global recruiting leader of EY, stated, “We need to change as employers. We need to approach what we are looking for in terms of skills and competencies – not just at the entry-level – and we need to do it early and often.” Defining a growth mindset, in lieu of a stagnant one is what will promote true change in a company.

He went on to discuss his definition of a growth mindset. “We are hardwired as human beings to assume the worst,” Black said. “The ability to see the same exact set of circumstances and see the opportunity and not retract is what I mean by growth mindset”

Adrianne C. Smith, global director of inclusion and diversity at WPP, discussed her approach to measuring current and future work environments and its employees, using an assessment tool to determine and organization’s and employee’s level of cultural maturity for a work environment of true authenticity, belonging, exceptional productivity, and work. If employees and organizations are not at an equal cultural maturity level, it is incumbent on the company to provide the employee with a learning and development program that aligns with maintaining a positive culture that fosters growth.

She went on to outline the overall idea that companies need to increase their awareness of what actual employee needs are, in order to run successfully. To be seen as a profitable company in the future of the workplace, they must keep customers happy, keep employees happy, and continue to be innovative both internally and externally. Taking the time to approach the employee/employer relationship with a deeper understanding of beliefs, personality traits, and what will set employees up for success is what will set companies apart and ensure they can withstand the changes the future will bring, she said.

Companies Recruit These Traits from Business Schools Graduates

The executives shared wish lists for the traits they hoped business schools like the Gabelli School of Business would instill in graduates.

When Black was asked what he hoped would become an amplified part of the Gabelli School’s MBA program, he responded with, “I encourage schools to introduce cross-curriculum capabilities when studying, finding ways to stretch [students’] minds and [introduce them] to other opportunities. I want them to be encouraged to try something different.”

Adrianne C. Smith’s advice on how to succeed in your career out of business school was to understand that you will have more than one career in your lifetime.

“Neither your job title nor the company you work for are important – don’t let them define you,” she said. “Define your own brand. Be known for who you are and the work you do, not who you work for.”

Fear of Technology Advancements in the Workplace

Dan Black said it best. “Be realistic. Technology will change every job. The robots are not taking your jobs, they are taking your tasks. Let them take those tasks – you don’t want to do them anyway.” Technology is here to stay, fearing it will only hurt you in the long run.

Google and other tech startups are using technology advancements to create new jobs in the workforce, such as research associates.

According to Swati D. Doshi, founder and managing director of Human Results, this position involves evaluating data that predicts the models that AI bots will learn. These talented individuals are being recognized for their attention to detail and their ability to partner with PhDs who ultimately use their data to create complex algorithms. Companies see the value of research associates and are moving away from having them as contracted workers and making them full-time employees, instead.

“Technology creates new products or services from data, and being responsible for the accuracy of that data and partnering with hard to find talent (PhDs/Engineers/Data Scientists) makes you a valuable employee,” Swati said.

When asked the question, “Will there be enough work in the future?” the overwhelming response was yes.

Adaptability is key to the success of a company and the ability to experience job growth throughout your career. As technology changes and the workforce continues to change, becoming a more adaptable employee will aide in your success. Follow your passions, follow your interests, and continue to grow into a multi-talented and experienced employee.

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