The pace and magnitude of change resulting from ongoing technological advancements are astonishing in the current digital age. The speedy nature of this shift, however, constantly questions our readiness — both in life and at work.

Largely defined as ‘uberisation’, the fourth industrial wave is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Enhanced connectivity is enabling us to fragment and democratize work among various groups or individuals anywhere in the world.

At the same time, changes caused due to digital age in existing business models are influencing a significant redesign of the workplace and the constitution of the workforce. Leaders are turning to HR specialists for help. Areas such as recruitment and training, organizational design and structures, strategic workforce planning, and new-age leadership development are all increasingly gaining priority. As a function, HR to is gradually moving towards leveraging talent analytics and workforce planning to make evidence-based decisions around their people strategy.

Enhance your workplace skills using digital technology

These digital age changes are also resulting in a transition from job security to job relevance and career security. There is an increasing demand for ‘premier’ talent that is equipped to work in a digitized workplace, but the supply of such talent is scarce. This gap, among other factors, has given rise to contingent forms of employment such as project-based, seasonal and freelance employment. Additionally, full-time employees find themselves under constructive pressure to continuously upskill and adapt. Those who are unable to will find it difficult to stay job relevant.

The current workforce needs to understand that technology is radically changing the way jobs are being designed, and hence the skills required. Take marketing and advertising for example: As consumers spend more time online on mobiles, tablets, and laptops, the challenge facing marketers is how to connect with customers through all these tech-enabled devices and create campaigns that work across display advertising, e-commerce, social and digital literacy

The onus of adapting to the changing environment in the digital age, however, does not lie only on employees. The approach adopted by a vast majority of companies today is shortsighted and reactive. They tend to “right size” and hire new employees with the requisite skills. However, this approach is not sustainable.

Companies need to identify areas where development is needed, and also develop and execute plans for building employee capabilities. Additionally, governmental bodies can spearhead comprehensive skill development programmes involving formal organizations such as vocational institutes, polytechnics, on-the-job training, and apprenticeship programmes. The initiatives can also include occupational accreditation and non-traditional institutions, such as NGOs that target academic dropouts and vulnerable sections of the population.

Whether we realize it or not, the future of work is already here. Changes in the workplace and workforce are testing employers’ readiness around technology, future requirements, HR programmes, and an enabling organizational structure. While organizations have started taking small steps, a concerted effort is needed to address this paradigm shift.

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