#MercerChats Rewind: Three Keys to Building for the Future of Work

#MercerChats Rewind: Three Keys to Building for the Future of Work

Each month, Mercer brings together in-house experts and external thought leaders, subject matter experts and influencers for an online discussion of the most pressing issues in the future of work and health. The program is called #MercerChats and takes place entirely on Twitter, where individuals around the world engage with Mercer’s intellectual capital and other leading thought leadership to share insights and discuss the best solutions to help organizations thrive. Below is a summary of our June 2019 tweet chat, highlighting some of the key themes discussed and the best insights shared.

No one knows the future of work, but we know it won’t be anything like the past. That’s because the institutions and conventions upon which our modern world of work was built are currently being torn down and rebuilt. That means that now is the time to dictate the new terms of engagement.

But in order to forge a new path forward, we need to fully understand where we are. That’s why we invited experts from a broad array of industries and backgrounds to share their perspectives on what’s changing in the working world around us and what we must account for as we build for the future of work.

The results were eye opening, but not altogether shocking. Much like our own 2019 Global Talent Trends research, it’s clear that our group of experts, subject matter experts and influencers predict a future of work that is decentralized, purpose-driven, and constantly evolving. Our #MercerChats tweet chat yielded dozens of fascinating perspectives and insights, but below are the three key themes that emerged from our conversation. 

A New-Look Workforce

Don’t go throwing your org chart into the trash, but maybe you should write it in pencil. Why? Because the way we build organizations, recruit talent and identify leaders is completely changing. We’re at the crossroads of rapid automation, longer lives, and greater communications and connectivity, and the resulting talent landscape is as foreign as the dark side of the moon.

But fear not. This new-look workforce opens more doors than it closes. In the age of automation, individuals are unburdened from dull, dangerous and data-intensive work and can focus on the value-add of human skills. Amidst global demographic shifts towards aging populations, organizations can extend the careers of highly-trained and highly-valued personnel to allow greater skills transfer between generations. And as the advance of tech uncouples office work from the office, both employees and employers can reap the benefits of flexible working and a dispersed workforce.

Our #MercerChats tweet chat participants recognized that these trends are transforming careers, with Terence Mills and Mercer’s Ilya Bonic cutting right to the core of the issue. As technology affords more flexibility in how and where work is done, both organizations and individuals need to reimagine how to deploy talent and skills to tackle the job.





A New Learning Construct

The hallowed halls of learning may not be a thing of the past, but they might not carry the weight they once did in the future of work. This is all thanks to the breakneck pace of technological advancement and economic evolution. Consider that the shelf-life of skills has dwindled from 25 years just a generation ago to only 5 years today. This means that under the old system we could go from being an apprentice to a mentor using the same set of skills, whereas now we can hardly go on vacation without falling behind.

This acceleration demands a new construct for modern learning where every individual truly embraces life-long learning. Under this system, it’s incumbent upon individuals and employers to constantly reevaluate what they need to remain competitive in the current and future talent environment. And as Kathleen Kruse pointed out, the thirst for new skills and innovation can’t stop when the workday ends. 



A New Employment Proposition

One product of the new talent landscape is the need for a new employment value proposition in which now-fluid talent is more selective and aware of what (and who) they’re working for. Without the inertia of a fixed career track or entrenched skill set, top talent will be more empowered to select projects and missions that have meaning, and it’s up to employers to define and articulate that.

I believe that this an opportunity for both employers and individuals to derive more value from their work, and our #MercerChats participants agree. Specifically, that employers can offer greater satisfaction and fulfillment to employees by aligning roles to purpose and aligning purpose to mission. Moreover, Jennifer Brown pointed out that the reimaging of employee value proposition is an opportunity for organizations to differentiate themselves in the competition for talent. Impactful benefits can do more than attract new talent – they can empower existing talent to maximize their career. In a future where top talent can choose its own path forward, talent-focused programs are a critical to any business strategy.  


Danielle Guzman
by Danielle Guzman

Global Head of Social Media