A New BCG Survey of Senior Executives Found That While They View a Broad Set of Future-of-Work Initiatives as Important, Many Initiatives Are Missing From the CEO Agenda
BOSTON—There is more to driving a better future of work than setting a policy regarding hybrid or remote work. A better future of work will require company efforts to drive improvements in leadership, culture, customers, talent, learning, reskilling, and more. And while most executives believe these areas are important, only one in five companies consider themselves to be industry-leading when it comes to these critical future-of-work dimensions, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The report, titled The Future of Work is More Than Where to Work, is based on a global survey of senior leaders from approximately 350 companies across industries, representing more than 6 million employees, designed to learn how far they've progressed in creating a better future of work. One third of survey respondents were C-suite executives.
“Our survey shows the importance of making sure future of work initiatives are on the CEO agenda,” said Debbie Lovich, BCG’s global leader for the future of work and coauthor of the report. “The survey results make it clear: when these initiatives are on the CEO agenda, companies are five times as likely to become future of work leaders.”
Missing From the CEO Agenda
The study found that nearly all executives surveyed viewed future of work dimensions such as leadership, always-on learning, and new and diverse talent models to be important, but less than 20% of respondents said these items are a priority on their CEO’s agenda.
Ninety-three percent of respondents consider leadership important for a better future of work, but respondents also say their companies aren’t providing adequate support to ensure leaders have what they need to succeed. For example, only 20% view improving the organizational culture and behaviors of senior leaders, and just 15% consider reskilling managers to manage, inspire, and coach distributed teams, as CEO priorities.
Deskless Worker-Focused Initiatives Are Falling Behind
When it comes to implementing future of work initiatives, the research revealed that companies and industries with a high share of deskless workers—those who need to be physically present to do their jobs and do not have the option of working remotely—are falling behind those with more office-based workers.
The telecom, technology, and insurance industries, which have approximately one-quarter or fewer of their employees in deskless jobs, are top-ranked in their future of work readiness. But energy, consumer products, and retail organizations– which employ deskless workers for more than half of their jobs–are the three lowest ranked industries on future of work readiness. Thirty-eight percent of all organizations have yet to implement new initiatives such as flexible schedules and differentiated benefits for deskless workers.
This is important because, as BCG’s latest global employment survey found, 37% of deskless talent were at risk of leaving their jobs in the next six months for reasons such as lack of flexibility, opportunities for career advancement, and compensation. To prevent that kind of significant turnover, companies must prioritize efforts to ensure a better working environment for those colleagues for whom hybrid work isn’t an option.
“Overall, just 4% of companies consider themselves industry-leading on work model dimension readiness for deskless workers, and just 8% of CEOs consider amplifying support for the frontline a priority,” said Sebastian Ullrich, BCG managing director and partner and coauthor of the report. “These figures underscore the fact that the employees who continued to work in factories, stores, and in the field during the pandemic lack support from their employers, after previously being hailed as heroes.”
While much has been written about employee expectations for the future of work, this new survey reveals that companies are not far along in their progress toward reshaping work. Many leaders believe creating a better future of work is important, but few are translating that belief into action.
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