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Productivity rises with remote working, but worker trust and workload poses challenges for companies: PwC survey of business and HR leaders in the Car

Business 03 Jan, 2022 Follow News

Productivity rises with remote working, but worker trust and workload poses challenges for companies: PwC survey of business and HR leaders in the Car

David Gibbons, Human Capital leader, PwC in the Caribbean

Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global People and Organisation Leader, PwC US

New research from PwC shows that as many companies have boosted workforce productivity and performance during the pandemic, cultural and leadership speedbumps have arisen that are inhibiting the creation of strong workforce strategies.

The global survey draws upon the views of almost 4,000 business and HR leaders across 28 industry sectors and from 26 countries and regions, including Bermuda and the Caribbean. The survey identifies six ‘no-regrets’ plays for business leaders to prepare for the future of work.

Remote and hybrid working has provided a short-term productivity boost in most workplaces, with 46% of respondents (57% globally) saying their organisation performed better against workforce performance and productivity targets over the past 12 months; None said their company performed significantly worse.

However, productivity and performance gains may have come at the expense of longer term employee trust. Half of business and HR leaders surveyed strongly believe their organisation is building high levels of trust between workers and their direct supervisors.

Burnout may be partially responsible for the number not being higher – nearly 80% (compared to 74% globally) are not fully confident workload is manageable enough for employees to make full use of personal time.

The survey reveals that building trust while using data and technology that is human-centred, remains fundamental to workforce strategy. Digitisation and automation, cost pressures, talent shortages, distrust, and burnout – a confluence of factors is impacting the workplace today. It’s clear from the findings that lukewarm agreement — or action will not move the needle in addressing today’s biggest workforce risks.

Caribbean organisations must act quickly and decisively to strengthen their organisations and prepare for the future of work.

David Gibbons, Human Capital leader, PwC in the Caribbean, and partner PwC Bermuda, commented: “People are integral to the tech equation. An engaged workforce is critical to focused, sustained action by leadership. Leaders need to engage with and listen to their people and be responsive to addressing employee concerns and the desire of people to work for organisations that live up to their purpose, values and culture. This is critical to retaining and motivating employees.”

There is a strategic planning dividend. The research found effective organisational planning can pay dividends. Companies that undertook both scenario-based planning (where leaders anticipate their needs for multiple possible futures) and dynamic planning (whereby leaders build responsiveness into plans) were 30 percentage points more likely to perform at or above financial and other targets than those who use neither approach.

Additionally, companies that undertake dynamic planning alone, compared to those who embark on scenario-based planning alone, see about a 10 percentage point advantage.

Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global People and Organisation Leader, PwC US, said: “The pandemic has increased the pressure for more integrated business and workforce strategies, informed by robust scenario planning which for some is delivering tangible financial benefits. As we anticipate greater short and long-term uncertainty, the importance of establishing effective planning practices will be critical to address today’s and tomorrow’s business and workforce priorities.”

Planning must account for the impact of technology on human work. Digitisation will continue to be a top concern for leaders, and there is currently a gap between the heightened role technology will play in the workforce strategy and an understanding of the risks.

Only 7% of Caribbean leaders (21% globally) strongly agreed they can identify the potential risks caused by decisions to replace human work with technology. Furthermore, only 12% (25% globally) strongly agreed they communicate clearly and consistently to employees and other stakeholders about the impact of automation and AI.

A focus on skills needs should also be included as a planning imperative. A third of the HR and business leaders surveyed say it’s very important to identify the skills the organisation will need in the future due to technological change but only 12% (26% globally) strongly agree they can currently do this.

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