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Q&A: Predictions from the woman transforming marketplaces (Includes interview)

In relation to 2020’s most probable workplace developments, if more “gig economies” exist, will these be inside the organization? Is it likely that work will be more project-based and broken down further into tasks matched to skills? Will this also lead to organizations sharing talent as individuals become more mobile?

To gain a big insight into the evolving workplace, Digital Journal caught up with Kelley Steven-Waiss, CHRO of HERE Technologies and Founder of Hitch, cloud-based SaaS talent mobility solution.

Digital Journal: What is meany by the gig economy?

Kelley Steven-Waiss: The gig economy has existed for a long time and has become a more commonplace option for modern American workers in recent years. The gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

DJ: Is the gig economy concept becoming a feature inside firms?

Steven-Waiss: The gig economy makes it possible to create entirely new business models that can grow extremely fast. On the other side of the coin, organizations must evolve to be far more responsive to the rapid ongoing shifts in skills, technology, and business model transformations. As introduced in my book, The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity, this bold new talent operating model is designed to help organizations apply the concept of the gig economy inside their firms and share talent across boundaries by dynamically matching and deploying skills to work. Everybody wins: the platform helps organizations function in a more agile, networked manner while employees can showcase their best selves at work. This model allows your organization to encourage continuous reskilling to prepare for the changing skills required to stay competitive.

DJ: Is this connected with digital transformation initiatives?

Steven-Waiss:Absolutely. The nature of work is changing across every industry due to digital transformations and disruptive technology. Specifically, the rise of machine automation and a tsunami of available data has fundamentally transformed not only the work we do but the speed at which we need to learn and deploy new skills that are often in higher demand than supply. As a result and more than ever, organizations feel the pressure of “disrupt or be disrupted”. What this means to the future of work is that it is a race to acquire skills, often around digital transformation needs, rather than the longstanding traditional focus on sourcing new talent. We can’t assume we can lay off employees with the old set of skills and then hire employees with the necessary new skills. There are just not enough people with those hot, in-demand skill sets available to satisfy all companies as they move to big-data analytics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and so on. Gaining greater visibility into all the skills in a company is particularly important and most cost-effective when that firm is undergoing significant strategic shifts.

DJ: What are the advantages of this for businesses?

Steven-Waiss:A study by McKinsey & Company in late 2017 found that 66 percent of top executives said retraining and upskilling their employees were urgent business priorities. According to the 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey more than eight out of 10 global managers view learning as a very important issue for organizations today. However, companies are aware they aren’t keeping up with the demand for personalized, dynamic, continuous learning opportunities.

Companies that will win in the marketplace will be experts at developing and deploying the skills they have already acquired inside of their company, as well as how to re-imagine people of all generations to fit major skill needs for the future. By doing so we really have an opportunity to create the future and to motivate and keep our internal workforce in tact longer by unleashing the talent inside (both for the individual and the company!)

An internal gig economy also creates competitive advantage around an employee experience that democratizes work, facilitates learning, unleashes internal capacity, and ultimately drives business productivity.

Rather than acquire new skills by hiring from outside, the new and quite disruptive reality is that competitive advantage is now based on a company’s ability to rapidly develop and better leverage the talent supply within itself. So, instead of competing for hot or in-demand skills that are in short supply, concentrate on what you have the power to control, based on:

Visibility of the internal skills you have and any gaps there are (supply).
Ability to accurately predict what skills you might need (demand) .
Speed at which you can upskill current talent against new or critical skill domains .
The digital horsepower (through man/machine collaboration via predictive analytics, machine learning, and automation) to accurately and efficiently match and deploy that talent to the right work, at the right time, at the right cost.

When it comes to what attracts new employees to a company, the research is very clear: potential for career advancement, challenging work, and opportunities to learn new skills. So our ability to provide employees with a diverse set of experiences in which they can craft their own paths will most likely attract the best talent in the marketplace.

DJ: How are organizations sharing talent across pre-existing boundaries?

Steven-Waiss:Due to an ongoing talent shortage of candidates with in-demand skill sets, organizations need to figure out how to build their own talent if they want to compete successfully. Only when skills become visible can the organization then manage both its supply and the demand for such talent through requests on projects or open requisitions. Armed with this information, an organization can create talent strategies to close the supply-demand gap and prepare for future strategic shifts needed to thrive. By having visibility into the hidden skills, capabilities, and aspirations of their employees, organizations can more rapidly, and inexpensively assign the right talent to solve real-time business challenges, while also tapping into a highly engaged workforce by allowing employees to work on those projects that best match their skills and interests. The future is about connecting people with opportunities for micro-learning, personal growth, and the ability to fully leverage their entire set of capabilities so they can lead more fulfilling careers and companies can maximize investment in talent.

DJ: What are the advantages for the worker, in being more mobile?

Steven-Waiss:The people in your workforce often have capabilities and aspirations that go far beyond their current job descriptions. Employees today want new and different experiences, yet most jobs are so specialized that people get “stuck” doing the same work over and over again, which leads to decreased productivity and disengagement. We often forget that people have had other roles, industry experiences, skills, and interests before taking on their current positions. Most human capital management (HCM) systems categorize employees by job titles, not skills, though many systems link static job descriptions with requisite skills to those job titles.

Providing employees with opportunities to work with different people on different projects is exactly the type of dynamic learning experiences today’s employees seek. When employees are exposed to new leaders, work with new team members, or are able to use their skills in a different context, there are constant opportunities for learning and growth from not only the new challenges presented in those work teams but also from the different leadership styles and the knowledge, skills, and experiences of coworkers.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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