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Adapting to the Changing Workplace

Ken Neal
by Ken Neal
February 11, 2019
BPO Bulletin

This post focuses on how demographic and workforce trends are affecting the systems and processes that drive business as well as the employees that use them. The implications of an aging population are being felt across all industries, with experienced employees leaving the workforce to be replaced by a younger generation who have grown up in the digital world and have radically different expectations.

These demographic shifts—paired with the impact of innovations such as robotics, workflow automation and cloud-based technologies—are posing unique challenges and opportunities. One response being strategically implemented by many business leaders is to digitally transform their operations. In doing so, these leaders have several critical, overriding goals in mind that include streamlining core business processes in order to boost efficiency and contain costs.

To achieve these objectives, enterprises are reinventing their operations, restructuring their workplace and reconsidering the way that business gets done. Influencing these approaches is the growing presence of a new generation of employees who are bringing new attitudes to the workplace. These new perspectives, according to a study conducted by Hanover Research and sponsored by Canon Business Process Services, are marked by greater flexibility and a blurring of professional and personal goals. The desire for a more collaborative environment is another demand that business leaders will encounter.1

According to the AARP, approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every single day, and this is expected to continue into 2030 and beyond.2 Since the average retirement age lies somewhere between 61 and 65, it’s not hard to see that changing demographics are going to create some serious human resource challenges. How are organizations going to fill the talent gap that’s left behind as baby boomers retire and will there be adequate number of younger workers with the right skills to replace them?

The new generation of employees has a much different attitude toward work. According to the Hanover Research/Canon Business Process Services study, employees from age 20 to 60 prefer to work for “digitally enabled organizations.”3 As a result business leaders will experience greater challenges in attracting and retaining employees. Businesses that fall behind will risk losing the support of their Millennial and Gen Z employees.

These demographic trends lead us to a best practice that business leaders should consider when designing strategies to deal with the changing workplace and knowledge worker skills:

Stay on top of ever evolving skills. Business leaders need to drive the conversation about addressing gaps in skills and related training as well as work to understand specific internal needs and external skill trends. The key is anticipating what the business might need in the next five years. There’s a wealth of data on trending skills that can be helpful in the evaluation. For example, SAP has introduced a maturity model created in collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems.4 The study outlines how companies can develop the expertise required to implement a successful digital transformation. This includes spotlighting best practices designed to help organizations overcome the digital skills gap and prepare for a winning transformation. As one example, the model suggests defining a digital transformation strategy that articulates the company’s vision, planning and implementation procedures that will support the change process. Formalizing a strategy that includes processes to document the course of actions can help ensure that digital transformation initiatives are well managed.

Feel free to visit the Business Process Outsourcing page of our website. There you will find additional insights on industry trends and best practices including case histories, whitepapers and more.

1. Canon Business Process Services and Hanover Research (2017) Leading a Future-Ready Business: Vision 2025, Changing Talent and Workplace

2. Gibson, William (2018) Age 65+ Adults Are Projected to Outnumber Children by 2030, AARP, March 14, 2018

3. Canon Business Process Services and Hanover Research (2017) Leading a Future-Ready Business: Vision 2025, Leading Continuous Change

4. SAP (2017) Maturity Model and Best Practice Skill Development for Digital Transformation

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