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Global Workforce on the Verge of Upheaval

A New Report from BCG Identifies Twelve Powerful Trends Upending Workforce Dynamics in Both Developed and Emerging Markets and Explains How Business Leaders Must Manage Talent in This New Era to Remain Competitive

BOSTON—Workforce dynamics are undergoing worldwide upheaval. Rapidly evolving technologies, business models, demographics, and workplace attitudes are triggering a tidal wave of change, which will make the way people work almost unrecognizable to today’s leaders. That, according to a report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is among the main findings of a yearlong analysis of the global work landscape. The report, Twelve Forces That Will Radically Change How Organizations Work, is the first in a series on the New New Way of Working. It is being released today.

As part of the analysis, the author team looked at 60 major trends, grouping them into 12 primary forces that affect both the demand for and the supply of talent. These forces will require leaders to rethink even basic assumptions about their workforce. “The way we work a decade from now will be almost unrecognizable to today’s business leaders,” says Rainer Strack, a senior partner at BCG and a coauthor of the report.

Exponential Change in Most Markets

These trends are leading to exponential change in most labor markets. The following are among the report’s most surprising findings:

  • Automation will rapidly replace both blue-collar and white-collar employees. Robots once cost upwards of $500,000 and were limited in what they could do. Today, basic models cost only $22,000 and are flexible and trainable.
  • Aging populations will lead to a labor deficit in most of the world’s 15 largest economies, which make up 70% of global GDP.
  • Diversity and inclusion, often seen as “nice to have,” will become a necessity. As the value of a diverse workforce increases, organizations are already turning to technology to help avoid bias in recruiting and hiring.

Companies Must Respond

Some forward-thinking companies are already responding to these changes, but most still have a long way to go. “For example, leaders will need to function with more fluid boundaries between what is inside and outside the company,” says Vikram Bhalla, a senior partner at BCG and one of the coauthors of the report. “Rigid distinctions between employees, outside suppliers, and customers will dissolve, and companies will instead focus on fostering collaboration among these groups.”

Speed and agility will become essential. Companies will break up departments and reporting lines, organizing smaller and more agile teams that comprise people from different departments and functions. They will focus also on getting new ideas into the market as quickly as possible and collecting feedback from users.

Finally, in that highly dynamic environment, companies will need to continually develop (and redevelop) their people. This is particularly true regarding the digital skills that will power company performance in the years ahead.  

BCG conferences in Madrid, Milan, and London, March 28 and 29, will feature findings from the report and highlight actions that organizations can take to respond effectively and succeed in this new environment.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com.

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