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Experience at heart of future work

Companies must take care of most crucial asset - employees

Singapore has set aside $2.4 billion over the next four years to implement the strategies drawn up by the Committee on the Future Economy.

They are aimed at training the next generation of pioneers and will shape the evolution of work.

Employees will have more resources from which to strengthen their skills to stay relevant. In today's increasingly digitised economy, part of that means ramping up on digital competencies.

Employees will also be given a better chance to make an impact on the world stage - with programmes to gain overseas experience, build networks, and collaborate with overseas counterparts.

While work becomes more innovative and competitive, skills and policies are only part of the bigger story.

Over the past year, the Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) team analysed 3 million social mentions about what work will look like in the future. It discovered that another aspect of work is undergoing a fundamental change: The experience.

Here are some trending topics and issues organisations should take note of, to understand what might happen in the Future of Work (FOW):

MOST DON'T FEAR AUTOMATION

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have sparked wide-ranging conversations about automation.

Automation mentions have doubled year on year, and average daily mentions of robots and jobs have increased 70 per cent. Some people are worried about how robots and automation will impact work, but most are positive.

They are increasingly excited about how these technologies can adopt less value-added tasks and free them to focus on creative and strategic work.

Benefits such as saving time (30 per cent) and big data analysis (25 per cent) are mentioned most frequently.

Automation could also give them the time to explore new fields and take up initiatives such as SkillsFuture to stay in touch with evolving job trends.

BIG DATA AND BETTER WORK ENVIRONMENTS

To make better decisions on talent, the human resources sector is starting to tap into the power of big data. Throughout the world, executives are attempting to leverage a data-driven approach to managing their talent pool.

The idea of using big data to recruit, improve management, replace performance reviews and cultivate workplaces was the top FOW topic, with discussions over people analytics relating to FOW seeing a 20 per cent increase.

Companies are increasing their focus on people, transitioning their workplaces into better environments that can attract and retain the best talent.

FLEXIBLE WORK SCHEDULES

The days of static and rigid workplaces are soon to be over. Today, employees are motivated by work arrangements that give priority to flexibility.

Gig economy mentions have tripled over the year, showing that more people are gravitating towards contractor-type of work that offers "yoga-like" work schedules with better work-life balance.

Organisations should take note of changing employee preferences when it comes to company culture. This might include mandatory office shutdowns and more versatile working hours.

If change fails to take place, organisations may risk losing valuable human assets. Paid time-off social mentions have dipped, which could mean that employees are feeling more stressed.

FASTER ECONOMY, FASTER COMMUTES

Getting to work is also part of the work experience. Distance, convenience, and modes of transport are huge factors that can make or break anyone's day.

ADI data shows that people are looking forward to faster, self-propelled transportation that could change the face of commuting.

On social media, Hyperloop and self-driving cars hit more than 1.1 million mentions last year. Hyperloop's speed and futuristic designs received 50 per cent more positive sentiment than buses and twice more than taxis.

When it comes to self-driving cars, Tesla, BMW, Ford, Volvo and GM are the top five brands mentioned.

FOW is coming and experience is at the very heart of it. As organisations move ahead in a constantly changing economy, it is important to take care of their most important asset: employees.

By focusing on how employees experience work, organisations stand a better chance of acquiring the best talents and improving competitiveness.

The writer is the managing director for South-east Asia at Adobe.

This article appeared in The Business Times yesterday.

tnp@sph.com.sg

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