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Thriving in the future labour market

How businesses can prepare for the four possible worker-employee relationships

The new reality of work is here, and organisations who place employees at the heart of their digital transformation today will be the market leaders of tomorrow. Deloitte and ServiceNow are re-architecting work, with human focus at the forefront, to ensure these organisations thrive today and for years to come.

How your organisation can thrive in the face of changing worker-employer relationships

More than 40% of the global workforce considered leaving their employer last year. A perfect mix of shifting demographics, the pandemic, and consumer demand may be the culprit, but even as the COVID-19 outlook steadies, some research suggests the labour shortage could go on indefinitely. This shift—dubbed the Great Resignation—is a critical turning point in the worker-employer relationship. As workers re-evaluate the role work plays in their lives, employers need to proactively identify strategies now to be prepared for whatever the future holds.

In a new report titled “The Worker-Employer Relationship Disrupted,” Deloitte examines how the worker-employer relationship could shift in the future, as well as key considerations that will be critical to thrive. From a worker sentiment-driven association that is inherently reactive to a purpose-forward alliance making workers central to crafting a company’s mission, employers will need to have a pulse on the changing dynamics and take action to regain positive worker sentiment.

Gretchen Alarcon, Vice President and General Manager of Human Resources Service Delivery (HRSD) at ServiceNow, put it best when she said, “The actions we take today inform the worker-employer relationship tomorrow. That’s why it’s critical that businesses proactively engage with the workforce to set a clear course for their future.”

Significant changes are already taking place. We have started to see some employees and employers alike shifting away from a “company-as-family” mentality, for instance, noting that the dynamics of inherently limited work relationships do not align with those of families. Others have sought to improve work experiences by promoting collaboration or reducing overbearing expectations that lead to work-life imbalance.

Your business should start planning now for the possible worker-employer relationships of the future.

The Deloitte research team surveyed executives, analysed market conditions and used scenario planning to formulate four possible futures of the worker-employer relationship.

  • Work as fashion: Driven by short supply of talent, employers must respond to shifting worker sentiments and marketplace dynamics to retain employees. This type of relationship is prevalent in today’s competitive talent market, where there has been an increased focus on employee engagement and well-being.
  • Competition between talent: There is an abundance of talent for specific roles and stiff competition between workers—regardless of the quality of the employer-employee relationship—follows. While this relationship may not seem relevant in today’s market, it applies to more specific skillsets and market segments.
  • Work is work: Shifting attitudes around work create an environment in which workers no longer seek personal and social fulfilment through their jobs. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen this relationship dynamic at play as workers deprioritise work to find a different balance.
  • Purpose unleashed: In this scenario, which is the inverse to “work is work,” both workers and employers will be driven by a common sense of purpose. Regardless of the work environment, this is the model most employers and employees strive for—but it proves difficult to create.

As you set direction for the future, here’s how your organization can unleash the workforce’s potential:

  • Work as fashion: Resist becoming overly reactive to competitors’ actions and instead develop a sustainable and differentiated worker-employer relationship built around a core set of shared ideals. This may include offering benefits and programmes to employees that focus on improving their personal well-being and professional growth.
  • Competition between talent: In this scenario, employers must resist the temptation to see talent as interchangeable and replaceable. Workers deliver more value when they are respected and invested in, and employers who provide jobs with higher wages, better hours and more predictable schedules will reap financial gains.
  • Work is work: Employers should look to motivate employees based on the merits of their work alone. This will require “re-architecting work” to engage human strengths, like relationship-building, creativity and innovation, so that workers see their contributions as meaningful and part of an effort to further their professional growth.
  • Purpose unleashed: Employers should engage with their workers as “co-creators” and provide them a meaningful voice in the communal execution of the company mission. This goes beyond soliciting worker input and requires trusting workers with the agency to influence and shape an organisation’s decisions and goals.

Learn more about future work trends and how Deloitte and ServiceNow can help.

Driven by short supply of talent, employers must respond to shifting worker sentiments and marketplace dynamics to retain employees.

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