In a dynamic business environment, companies can’t afford to hold onto outmoded work approaches and skillsets. This is why workforce transformation is such a vibrant area of interest for future-focused companies. In this article, we discuss how you achieve workforce transformation in twelve steps.

In a survey of 10,000+ workers around the world, PwC found that 37% are worried about automation putting jobs at risk. This is up from 33% in 2014. Further, an overwhelming 74% are eager to learn new skills in order to stay employable. Only a few people will have “stable, long-term employment” in the future, agreed 60% of respondents.

These metrics drive home the importance of workforce transformation in sync with a dynamic market environment. Let’s explore how HR can streamline the workforce transformation journey in 2020 through these 12 recommended steps.

12 Months to Successful Workforce Transformation

Workforce transformation refers to improving the workforce by way of their skills and abilities or the quality and kind of talent to keep up with the changes in the company’s business strategy. Several trends make workforce transformation a business imperative in 2020. PwC categorizes these trends into innovation-readiness, free-market competition, increased environmental consciousness, and self-fulfillment at work.

Put simply, the fourth industrial revolution is well underway, causing anxieties as well as opportunities around job automation. Next, there are global economic upheavals to factor. The U.S. economy is currently booming with a record low level of unemployment. China, on the other hand, is also emerging as a force to reckon with.

Keeping these factors in mind, companies need a clear blueprint for workforce transformation. Here are our 12 suggested steps:

1. Forge lines of communication among senior leadership

The first step to workforce transformation is identifying the company’s goals shared across various departments. And this requires collaboration between different C-level leaders. The CHRO, CIO, CFO, CEO, and COO must come together to collaborate on the company’s future roadmap. This step is essential for a smooth transformation journey with zero bottlenecks later in the year.

2. Identify measurable business goals

Once the company’s senior leadership is on the same page, it is time to identify the “to-be-achieved” targets, for workforce transformation. Are you looking to upskill employees for a specific digital requirement? Is culture a top priority on your transformation checklist? Are you eager to strengthen the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) footprint in 2020?

3. Assign KPIs to goals and convey them to your workforce

Now that concrete targets for your workforce transformation initiative are in place, you can assign a key performance indicator (KPI) to measure performance. For example, if upskilling is the required objective, you can consider the completion of specific certifications for your workforce as a measure of upskilling. Similarly, you can measure cultural transformation through employee surveys and feedback questionnaires. As part of this step, discuss your transformation goals and KPIs with the workforce.

4. Solicit employee opinion and contribution

Remember, your employees are at the heart of any workforce transformation initiative. Their views on the roadmap, goals, and KPIs matter hugely – use people analytics to assess the data from the surveys in step 3 and identify key trends through the workforce. Are they okay with certifications as a measure of upskilling? Do they think upskilling is necessary at all? In this step, realign your workforce transformation vision in line with employee mood/sentiment.

5. Implement a revised workforce transformation roadmap

After collecting employee feedback and changing what is applicable, begin implementing your workforce transformation plan. Executable steps include:

  • Large-scale learning and development sessions for employee upskilling/reskilling
  • A calendar for employee advocacy on social media to strengthen your brand
  • Employee engagement activities to reinforce the culture you desire in the organization
  • Announcements/Communications from the C-suite regarding the progress of the transformation and its final goals

6. Find “transformation champions” in your workforce

There will be a select group of individuals who are the most excited to participate in the transformation and make the initiative a success. They could also be individuals who have gained measurably from your transformation efforts. For example, a young marketing professional who undertook a course in data science to speed up their career progress, build a specific skill the company is in need of or transition into a new role the company demands is a clear “transformation champion.”

7. Launch a “transformation champions speak” campaign

While your roadmap execution and champion identification are underway, launch an internal marketing campaign where your transformation champions speak directly to their peers and colleagues, encouraging meaningful discussion around the ongoing transformation. You could also use social media to encourage these champions to publicly share the positive outcomes of their effort. This is a good move for your employer brand as well.

8. Begin measuring the impact of workplace transformation

Reaching step 8 may need about 6–8 months, so at this stage, you can begin measuring its impact. While surveys will be your primary tool to collect feedback, ask open-ended questions, and if possible, apply sentiment analysis to gauge employee mood. Short pulse surveys can find issues in specific teams. In this step, share the results of your findings with the CHRO, CIO, CFO, CEO, and COO, so that they are assured all leadership needs and objectives will be met.

9. Pause transformation and share the impact measurement results with the workforce

At this point, pause transformational activities or slow them down until you can share the results of the progress so far with the workforce. Consolidate the results of step 8. You should have tangible numbers associated with each metric of your workforce transformation program. For example, at least X% of employees could have met their upskilling goals or employee advocacy should have resulted in Y number of inbound applicants. Then, share these results with your teams – through internal newsletters or your in-house social media platform – in the interest of transparency and to ensure that they remain on track.

10. Tweak specific milestones as per measurement results

Now, you can relaunch your workforce transformation efforts with a refined set of KPIs and milestones as per the observed outcomes. For example, it could be that 75% of the total workforce met their upskilling goals, but only 50% of millennials achieved this target. At this stage, you can revisit the upskilling strategy or process to ensure that more millennials achieve the upskilling targets. This step is all about fine-tuning the initiative for maximum impact.

11. Create your annual transformation report

Expect to be toward the end of the year into your transformation project at this step. Now, C-suite leaders must come together and take stock of the progress in different areas. The purpose of workforce transformation is to futureproof its employees and the business as a whole. How close are you to achieving this target? The annual transformation report captures key data points, milestones, accomplishments, and gaps in workforce transformation. This paves the way for the next and final step for 2020.

12. Conduct a SWOT analysis and build your 2021 launchpad

Equipped with a detailed workforce transformation report, the C-suite along with senior and middle management can analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and trends (SWOT) observed across the entire year. For example, it may emerge that upskilling has extended employee working hours and negatively impacted their workplace experience. This can be addressed next year with a renewed or modified transformation roadmap.

From Workforce Transformation to Continuous Improvement in 2021

To be truly sustainable, the transformation must be part of a company’s culture and not a one-off project. That’s why HR should aim to continually improve workforce capabilities, employee experience, and company values, taking the first initiative as a launchpad.

Today, we are at an inflection point in terms of the global economy, digital disruption, and the evolution of talent. In the PwC survey we cited, 37% of respondents said they were excited and see a world full of possibilities. But 18% said they were worried and “nervous about what the future holds.”

Workforce transformation can help companies stay on the right side of this inflection point, gaining from all the opportunities that lie ahead without getting overwhelmed by its challenges.

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