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Blinders in the Boardroom

This article was originally posted on my LinkedIn-page.

The World of Work as we used to know it is under pressure. Technological advances, government policies, and employee expectations are reshaping the labour market, while the pace of change continues to accelerate. With the growing presence of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in everyday life, the opportunities for how people will work and live are significant. Meanwhile, the increasing degree of process automation has implications for employees' data security and privacy, yet nobody mentions. The analytics coming from this data and the protection of one's privacy requires a level of specialization of - investment in - your HR department.

Organisations are forced to reinvent themselves and that is not always easy when you have a long history and/or huge legacy.  So how are organisations impacted and what will the relationships between Employers and Employees look like in the future? Today research points out some important controversial topics which this article is all about; It seems that most executives focus on all things but people, while in these times of change they are needed the most.


The news of the disruption of the workforce is sinking and organisations are aware that they are in for quite a journey as 73% of executives predict significant industry disruption in the next three years — up from 26% in 2018.

Also there is some discrepancy between expectations and forecasts, which you will recognize in all talks about AI and Automation or even in your strategy meetings. I.e.

  • More than half of executives expect AI and automation to replace one in five of their organization’s current jobs. But this is only half the story, as AI and automation will also create 58 million net new jobs by 2022, according to estimates from the World Economic Forum.

  • Despite the prediction of disruption organisations are confident: Four out of five executives believe their company can lead disruption in their industry, and nearly all are taking action to prepare for the Future Of Work. Yet, while organisations are preparing themselves for this Future Of Work, there are significant human capital risks — from the inability to close the skills gap to low engagement — that can slow the progress of transformation.


"In the Human Age, the most significant threats to successful organizational transformations are rooted in human capital risk, including the stress triggered by individuals feeling a lack of control in the face of uncertainty." - The WEF Global Risk Report 2019.

Figure 2 - image of The Global Talent Trends Study by Mercer.

Despite the confidence in handling the industry’s disruption, only one in three executives rates their company’s ability to mitigate people risks as “very effective.”  

According to Mercer, this perception may be based on a lack of focus — only 29% of HR leaders strongly agree that their business executives prioritize human capital risks, that means 71% does not.


Business leaders worry most about shifting opportunities offered by technology and the relentless march of competitors (traditional and new). Companies are facing pressure on multiple fronts as concerns around cybersecurity risks, changing business regulations, talent migration and corporate responsibility to address societal issues have increased significantly since last year.  

As job security is one of the top three reasons people joined their company and the main reason they stay, it is precisely during these times of change that employees look to their employers for direction and inspiration.

Remembering that Employer Branding comes from the inside out. Websites like Glassdoor and Stepstone already take on Employer Ratings, while LinkedIn is diving in to pay-transparency and referral recruiting.  

According to a research by iCims and Glassdoor; 1 out of 3 participants refused a job offer because of a bad Employer Rating and a convincing 92% finds Employer Ratings important in their search for a next adventure.

Also, so it seems, 44% of your current staff might be looking for another job because of lack of a decent digitization (Unisys).


As organizations now are moving from awareness to actively preparing for The Future of Work, they can take their employees along on the journey by upholding the values individuals admire, actively managing the change process, and remembering that it is people who make transformations stick.

According to PwC’s report, Our Status With Tech at Work: It’s Complicated:

  • 90% of C-level leaders say their organizations pay attention to employee needs when introducing new technology. However, just more than half of the workforce, 53%, agree.

  • 92% of C-suite executives are satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for employees doing the most important work. But only 68% of employees agree.

  • Nearly half (46%) of supervisors say they’re overwhelmed by technology at work. More concerning is that 61% believe technology requires them to do more transactional or administrative work than they’d like to.

Source image: HCM-technology Report

It might be good to look at your employees as “customers” of your work. When it is bad, they will give you a bad rating. If your digitization sucks, they might look for another job. But when everything is as it should be, they will give you a great performance in return, while learning together with your company.

"You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where can you can sell it."- Steve Jobs


Doesn’t it strike you as odd that most executives think AI and automation will decrease the job offer, while almost neglecting the fact it also creates jobs?  

Also it is worrying to read that most executives are confident they can handle their industry’s disruption, while they lack focus towards the Human Capital Risks that come along with that disruption.  

It seems that most executives focus on all things but people, while in these times of change they are needed the most. Am I wrong?

Are you an executive and do you want more information on this subject; please do not hesitate to contact us!

The main inspiration for this article was found in The Global Talent Trends Study by Mercer