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NZ businesses need to invest in reskilling workers to be successful

Deloitte finds that organisations need to invest in key values of reskilling, belonging and ethics to ensure their workplaces are prepared for the future of work.

However, less than 5% of New Zealand organisations are confident they know what the skills of the future are going to be. This is based on Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward.

The report highlights that 11% of those surveyed believe their whole workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years but most (78% of respondents) are not currently rewarding their workers for developing these new skills and capabilities on their own initiative.

When it comes to continuing this focus on reskilling, 73% of the New Zealand respondents believe that the need for individuals to continuously invest in new skills and capabilities will have the most impact on an organisation's compensation strategy.

Furthermore, though the survey was carried out pre-COVID-19, 40% of organisations already believed that in three years there will be a net decrease in jobs.

However, only 6.25% of respondents said their organisations are using AI to primarily replace workers. The gig economy is not yet universal with 41% of organisations including the alternative workforce, such as contract or gig workers, in their strategy.

Finally, a majority of people surveyed think the biggest inter-generational difference is the expectations of advancement (54.55%).

Deloitte human capital partner Hamish Wilson says, “Today’s business leaders are facing challenges unlike those of the past. This year’s Human Capital Trends report highlights the need for leaders to shift their thinking from one day to today due to the changes caused by technological advances and COVID-19. This is especially true for reskilling.

“In the recent Budget, the Government recognised this need and invested more than $2 billion in a range of reskilling packages. One notable initiative is placing at least 10,000 New Zealanders in primary sector jobs by rapidly retraining and absorbing workers displaced from other sectors like hospitality and aviation.”

According to Wilson, with a shorter shelf life for skills, it can feel like organisations are forever playing catch-up in the bid to fill the skills gap. The key is to embrace potential and maintain a focus on people’s capabilities and growth rather than past performance, he says.

The report found that two in five New Zealand organisations cited the top barrier that organisations face in regards to creating a sense of belonging was the complexity of operating across business lines or geographic boundaries.

Wilson says, “Our survey reveals the need to rethink the efforts leaders put into creating a sense of belonging for their teams.

“Most organisations spend their effort creating comfort, allowing people to feel secure in their organisations. In order to translate a sense of belonging into organisational performance, leaders must also foster a strong connection to the team and create a tighter link between an individual's contribution and the organisation's purpose.”

The survey also notes a rise in the importance of the ethics of technology. Decision making in this area is complex and difficult, Wilson states.

He says, today’s leaders face the usual challenges of time and cost pressures, compounded by the desire to support the people most affected by decisions.

The data reflects this concern with 63% of organisations surveyed citing the maintenance of privacy and control of workers data as the largest ethical concern for them.

Wilson states that while there are challenges, leaders should consider technological possibilities alongside key organisational principles.

He says, “COVID-19 has tested the resilience of our business community like never before. While the path forward may be obscured, the Human Capital Trends report suggests that a focus on reskilling, belonging and ethics will allow leaders to create lasting value for themselves, their organisations, and society at large.”

The report is the largest longitudinal survey of its kind. This year, it was completed by nearly 9,000 respondents in 119 countries, including 51 New Zealand respondents.