Alexandra Levit: “The strongest teams will be those that leverage both human and machine strengths.”
Alexandra Levit has become one of the most influential people on the future of work and trends in human resources. A self-described “business futurist”, she summarizes her work in just a few words: “I help organizations prepare to succeed and thrive in the future of work.”
A speaker, bestselling author (“They Don’t Teach Corporate in College”, among other books) and consultant (a partner with People Results), Levit has written for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The New York Times about what she sees as a more global, flexible and individualized workplace, where Millennials will continue to gain prominence, people will have to get used to working with robots and gamification and game-based learning will play an increasingly important role in company learning.
At Gamelearn we were fortunate to be able to contact her and ask about some of the issues that are likely to shape the future of human resources, learning and development throughout the globe.
– Alexandra, you often talk about the future of work and the huge changes we can expect to see over the coming years. What are the main trends — technological, social, economic and so on — that are changing companies, businesses and workers all over the world?
– This is a big question for a single question in a blog post, but here are some topline thoughts that touch all three areas: Organizations will leverage global connectivity to access low-cost, high-value ideas that reside within the crowd. By using predictive modeling, leaders, who currently sit above complex webs of people, products and markets, will be better placed to identify what’s creating value and what’s wasteful. Machines will be our partners in every area of business, and companies will also become more specialized in their offerings. A company’s physical headcount may reduce, but the size of their talent pool could grow by billions due to the opportunity to access global talent.
– If companies and businesses are undergoing change, it seems natural that the human resources department is changing too. What do you think will be the department’s main priority for the next 10 to 20 years?
– Here go some ideas:
- HR will evolve from being a clearly defined, stand-alone function that administers HR and talent management processes to one that spans disciplines and crosses boundaries to deliver cross-functional, holistic employee experiences.
- Organizations will no longer treat their workforce as a single entity but instead, treat each employee as a “workforce of one,” offering customized HR and talent management solutions.
- Organizations will leverage the new extended workforce: a global network of outside contractors, vendors, etc.
- HR will transform to adapt to a more global world, including supporting mobile workforces across geographic barriers.
- Instead of relying on solutions dictated from the top of the organization, organizations will be populated with knowledge workers who harness social media to create solutions in conjunction with each other, thereby radically disrupting organizational structures, hierarchy, and job titles.
- Using predictive analytics, HR will arm itself with the tools and insights of a scientist to drive better performance from their workforces.
– In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about robots and automation, and many workers fear for their jobs (Human Resources included!). Is there cause for concern? What role will HR departments play in combining humans and robots in companies?
– The economy will become increasingly jobless and tomorrow’s workers will focus on developing a variety of skills that could keep them working continuously productively. It’ll be about finding out what other people need done, and doing it. Robust employment will depend on the non-routine, uniquely human, analytical or interactive contributions that people make, which often relate to discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning. And right now, where there is a machine on a team, there is a human behind it who builds it, trains it, manages it, and fixes it when it breaks. Given all this, the strongest teams will be those that leverage both human and machine strengths, and HR, of course, will have a role in sourcing these teams.
– Another hot topic at the moment is the war for talent. We are all part of the so-called ‘knowledge economy’, therefore the majority of companies are vying for the best minds. How can human resources attract, train and retain the best professionals? What should it focus on?
– Skills gaps are widening, and HR will be increasingly hard pressed to ensure their organizations have the right talent. HR will need to quickly tap skills when and where they’re needed. In order to keep employees engaged throughout their tenure, organizations will need to provide a compelling and authentic experience during each phase of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to alumni status.
– In a recent report, Deloitte identified ‘continuous learning’ as one of the ten major trends in human resources. In these ever-changing times, with so many new technologies, occupations and skills being demanded by companies, how can Chief Learning Officers keep their staff trained and up to date? What should be the priority?
– One word: on-demand. Provide the training how, where, and when employees need it by leveraging technology including social, gamification, cloud, mobile, and analytics.
– Continuing on this subject, and considering the growing presence of Millennials and Generation Z in the workplace, can gamification, game-based learning and simulators help with this task?
– Absolutely: they can and are helping because younger employees are more likely to engage with online learning if it is gamified, and they are especially useful with far-flung employee populations who don’t have the ability to gather in a conference room.