Super-jobs, continuous learning & talent mobility: the top future of work trends

Top 10 HR trends and super trends

The rise of “super-jobs” is one of 10 key future of work trends according to Deloitte’s latest Human Capital Trends report.

It found that the rapid adoption of technology by business is leading to the rise of roles that leverage significant productivity and efficiency gains that can arise when people work with technology, using it to both augment and broaden the scope of the work performed.

A vast majority of organisations globally expect to increase or significantly increase their use of AI, cognitive technologies, robotic process automation, and robotics over the next three years – collectively giving rise to a number of key trends including “super-jobs”.

Australia is a fast adopter compared to the global average, with 74 per cent of Australian businesses hiring people with different skills due to the rise of automation in the past three years, while a further 52 per cent are using automation extensively or across multiple functions (compared to 41 per cent globally).

Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report also found that 80 per cent of Australian respondents (64 per cent globally) indicate they expect the use of robotics to increase or increase significantly in the next three years.

Half of Australian businesses are exploring the use of AI, with 35 per cent already using it in selected functions and 95 per cent say they expect their use of cognitive and AI technology to increase or increase significantly over the next three years.

As organisations adopt these technologies, they’re finding that virtually every job must change, and that the jobs of the future are more digital, more multidisciplinary, and more data- and information-driven.

“Even though the workplace is being transformed by AI, robotics, and automation faster than many people expected, our research found that organisations are adapting along with the change,” said Deloitte human capital lead partner, David Brown.

“The concept of a job is fundamentally changing.

“Paradoxically, to be able to take full advantage of technology, organisations must redesign jobs to focus on finding the human dimension of work.

“As machines take over repeatable tasks, jobs will become less routine.

“Super-jobs will combine work and skill sets across multiple business domains, opening up opportunities for mobility, advancement and the rapid adoption of new skills desperately needed today”

“This will create new roles that we call ‘super-jobs’: jobs that combine parts of different traditional jobs into integrated roles that leverage the significant productivity and efficiency gains that can arise when people work with technology.”

For example, a controller working for a mining operations centre in Perth and remotely managing the logistics for a fleet of autonomous mining trucks in the Pilbara has a super-job; or a doctor in Melbourne operating via telemedicine on a patient in Bendigo – both are enhancing human skills with technology.

“Super-jobs are machine-powered, data-driven and require human skills in problem-solving, communication, interpretation, and design,” he said.

“Super-jobs will combine work and skill sets across multiple business domains, opening up opportunities for mobility, advancement and the rapid adoption of new skills desperately needed today.”

In a super-job, technology has not only changed the nature of the skills the job requires but has changed the nature of the work and the job itself.

Super-jobs require technical and soft skills, but also leverage the significant productivity and efficiency gains that can arise when people work with smart machines, data, and algorithms.

Top 10 future of work trends: the rise of super jobs
The top 10 future of work trends. Source: Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report

A need for continuous learning
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, which took in nearly 10,000 respondents across 119 countries – making it the largest longitudinal survey of its kind – found that adapting to the rise of super-jobs is also forcing organisations to change the way their people learn.

Reinventing the way people learn was seen as important or very important by 91 per cent of survey respondents in Australia (86 per cent globally) – making this the number one trend for 2019.

Three quarters (74 per cent) of Australian businesses are hiring people with different skills due to the rise of automation in the past three years, while 80 per cent (v 62 per cent globally) are eliminating transactional work and replacing repetitive tasks and 68 per cent are reskilling current employees.

“Leading organisations are empowering individuals’ need to continuously develop skills by investing in new tools to embed learning not only into the flow of work, but the flow of life,” said Brown.

“With the need to sustain 50 to 60-year careers as part of a 100-year life, lifelong learning has evolved from a matter of career advancement to workplace survival.”

Within this context, the report identifies three broader trends in how learning is evolving: it is becoming more integrated with work; it is becoming more personal; and it is shifting – slowly – toward lifelong models.

“With the need to sustain 50 to 60-year careers as part of a 100-year life, lifelong learning has evolved from a matter of career advancement to workplace survival”

Effective reinvention along these lines requires a workplace culture that supports continuous learning, incentives that motivate people to take advantage of learning opportunities, and a focus on helping individuals identify and develop new, needed skills.

Talent is everywhere
As well as reshaping the nature of job design through super jobs, the report also noted that organisations needed to rewire their approach to engaging with the ‘alternative workforce’ – freelancers, gig workers, and outsourced/managed service providers.

Sixty per cent of Australian respondents (v 33 per cent globally) reported extensively using alternative workforce arrangements for IT and 26 per cent for their operations (25 per cent globally).

Yet 56 per cent said they either managed alternative workers inconsistently or had few or no processes for managing them at all.

These organisations are using alternative workers tactically as a way to fill immediate requirements, not strategically as a long-term solution for the future.

Only 12 per cent of Australian respondents (8 per cent globally) said that they have best in class processes to manage and develop alternative workforce sources.

“For years, many considered contract, freelance, and gig employment to be ‘alternative work,’ options supplementary to full-time jobs,” said Brown.

“Today, this segment of the workforce is mainstream and leading organisations are looking strategically at all types of work arrangements in their plans for growth.

“Best practices to access and deploy alternative workers are only now being invented.

“Organisations should look strategically at all types of work arrangements – traditional and alternative – to redesign jobs to properly leverage strengths across all workforce segments, from gig workers to those with super-jobs.”

From employee experience to human experience
Another top future of work trend in the report revolved around the need to improve what is often called the “employee experience.”

But the concept of employee experience falls short in that it fails to capture the need for meaning in work that people are looking for, according to the report.

“To create the human experience at work warrants an end-to-end focus similar to the way organisations think about their customer experience”

“We see an opportunity for employers to refresh and expand the concept of employee experience to address the ‘human experience’ at work – building on an understanding of worker aspirations to connect work back to the impact it has on not only the organisation, but society as a whole,” said Brown.

The report found that 84 per cent of survey respondents (in Australia and globally) rated the issue of employee experience as important, and 50 per cent of Australian respondents believed their organisations’ workers were satisfied or very satisfied with their job design.

Furthermore, 42 per cent (in Australia and globally) thought that workers were satisfied or very satisfied with day-to-day work practices, however, only 33 per cent of respondents in Australia (38 per cent globally) said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the current work-related tools and technology available.

An additional 26 per cent in Australia (38 per cent globally) thought that they have enough autonomy within their jobs to make good decisions while 60 per cent of Australian respondents believe that taking a public stance on social issues can positively impact the recruitment and retention of staff.

“To create the human experience at work warrants an end-to-end focus similar to the way organisations think about their customer experience,” the report said.

Traditional HR responsibilities such as hiring, onboarding, job design, rewards, and development don’t fully address issues with the work itself, which means a multifunctional focus is needed – and HR organisations must partner closely with the business, IT, facilities, finance, and even marketing to make an impact in this area.

“While the employee experience journey may start with a focus on the workplace, perks, and rewards, in time it must focus on the more human elements of the work itself to truly create meaning,” the report said.

“A true human experience is one that embeds meaning into work and enables every employee to contribute in the most positive, supportive, and personal way.”