Why behaviours will trump skills in the future of work

As organisations plan for a world where they don’t know what skills they’ll need, they must develop a talent strategy that embraces people with the behaviours to adapt to change, says Aon

Digital technology has transformed the work environment.

The rise of automation and the fourth industrial revolution are changing the jobs landscape at an unprecedented pace, creating uncertainty in organisations and among the people they employ.

According to Deloitte,  nearly  half  of today’s jobs will be gone in the next ten years. They won’t necessarily disappear, however,  so  much as  evolve.  This new world  of  work needs  people  who  can easily  adapt in  ever-transient environments, with behaviours that ensure they are effective and engaged no matter how much technology and jobs change.

Human resources professionals  are expected to navigate organisations through  this new and evolving environment, putting processes in place to support their business strategies. They need to identify, develop and transition people into the right roles,  assess talent for future skills and empower employees to evolve alongside changing jobs and requirements.

But even organisations with high  digital readiness face difficulties identifying the right talent.

In a global study of 1,400 leaders by Aon’s  Assessment Solutions, only one in four respondents who  rated their company’s  digital  transformation highly also thought it had critical competencies in place to future-proof their workforce. Just 11 per cent said their hiring processes incorporate  assessments for digital competencies and a mere 7 per cent said their organisation knows how  to identify individuals with digital potential:

  • 39% of companies know how to identify individuals with digital potential
  • 35%have a hiring process that allows quick  decisions regarding a candidate’s digital readiness
  • 49% feel they are executing an effective digital strategy across their organisation

Based on market research of 1,350 respondents globally

“There  are some underlying  behaviours that companies can identify when searching for those who will thrive in the digital world,” says  Andreas Lohff,  chief executive of Aon’s Assessment Solutions.

“A lot of  it circles around adaptability. Can  you  stay employable and adjust to new challenges and tasks? How open are you to new experiences? How curious are you  about what is possible? How  many ideas can you  contribute yourself? And can you reinvent your old area of responsibility in terms of a digital experience?

“Mindset is also important because we know  people can get very comfortable, but they need to be able to leave their comfort zone. And self-organisation is crucial because the only way you can get a company up to speed is by delegating tasks further down the line and empowering people  to organise themselves  in the way they treat  tasks and  projects. That means more focus on project management skills, teamwork and the ability to take responsibility for your own decisions rather than pushing decision-making up a line.”

A digital working environment requires teams to work  virtually and globally.  Teams working  across functions are  needed to connect the dots, bring knowledge together, innovate and quickly react to changes in the environment. Flexible structures support cross-functional collaboration and  allow  set-up of  teams based on occurring challenges.

Data is central to creating a future- proof talent strategy. HR professionals should  look  at organisations that are further ahead and benchmark against them. Due to its work in human capital solutions, Aon is in the unique position of  being able to provide data on jobs and organisation structures,  but also on individuals. Its digital readiness model focuses on the core competencies of learnability, agility and curiosity, all three of which show significant correlations with their respective performance factors.

“We can  measure   the   behaviours, skills,  interests, motives and intellectual capacity of people on various levels, not just managerial, but also project managers, shop-floor workers, and even down to people like drivers and machine operators,” says  Mr Lohff.

“We have a broad range of measurement instruments that can provide a digital profile.

“Aon’s Assessment Solutions can help organisations understand their challenges,  but also help  individuals to understand their own talents and how they will fit into a future set of tasks and jobs.  We help organisations to measure and  select the right people, but at the same  time provide a lot of self-assessment to individuals who can then carve out their own opportunities and understand the skills and qualities they’ll need to achieve their career aspirations.”

For more information please visit assessment.aon.com/digital-readiness


This article first appeared on Raconteur, reproduced with author’s permission