How to Thrive in the New World of Work

The Skills Revolution is here, with in-demand skills changing too rapidly for companies to find talents they need. ManpowerGroup wants to bridge this gap.

02 Jan 2020 Interviews Best practices Future of work

Mara Swan

Ms Mara Swan is Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Talent at ManpowerGroup, a consultancy that advises companies worldwide on achieving success in the rapidly evolving future of work. In 2015, she was named one of the 15 most influential and prominent women leading HR functions in the United States.

Q: Please tell us more about your role and responsibilities at ManpowerGroup.

I am one of the five executives on our Executive Operating Committee, working with our CEO to guide and grow our global business. I am responsible for leading our business and people strategy across 80 markets and I am also responsible for marketing, Public Relations, thought leadership, corporate social responsibility, and global brand leadership for our Right Management business. 

Q: ManpowerGroup was a significant contributor at the 2018 World Economic Forum. What are some of the key insights unveiled by ManpowerGroup at the Event?

We focussed on the theme of digital transformation, exploring how organisations are adapting and thriving in the new world of work. 

Our report "Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions for the Skills Revolution", based on a global survey of over 20,000 employers across 42 countries, offers a real-time view of how employers are planning for automation. Despite the negative predictions often being seen in the news, 82 per cent of the employers actually expect digitisation to increase or maintain their overall headcount in the next two years. Ultimately, meaningful digital transformation has to start from the top, and leaders need to lead differently. That's why we published our study, "From C-Suite to Digital Suite: How to Lead Through Digital Transformation". The good news is that 80 per cent of the inherent competencies that have always made leaders effective - brightness, adaptability, endurance, and drive - remain the same. The other 20 per cent is about encouraging a culture of measured innovation and experimentation, where organisations are willing to take calculated risks and optimise opportunities. 

Q: How can organisations prepare and success in the Skills Revolution you just mentioned?

Technology is transforming organisations, skill needed are changing rapidly, and companies are struggling to find the talent they need. What this means for organisations is that to succeed, they must prioritise digital skills and expertise across the workforce, from entry-level to leadership. They also need to learn to combine the best of human and machine intelligence to create an inclusive, tech-enabled, and forward-thinking company.

When it comes to people, organisations need to get better at tapping underutilised labour pools and finding new ways to attract, retain and reskill older workers, women and youth. To reduce the learning curve and train their people more efficiently, employers should focus on populations with adjacent skills that can be easily adapted, developed, and applied to new roles. 

Q: What tips can you offer employers looking to implement fair and inclusive workplaces?

In our "7 Steps to Conscious Inclusion" report, we outline a number of ways businesses can work towards being more fair and inclusive, including:

  • Ensuring that leadership owns the transformation - such responsibilities have to be led by CEOs and cannot be delegated to others.
  • Creating a culture that promotes inclusion instead of simply implementing generic programmes.
    Too many companies focus on diversity programmes and then "check the box" that their job is done, but programmes alone don't work as they don't change behaviours.
  • Hiring people who value people - they will be more open to be part of creating and fostering a fair and inclusive culture. 

This article first appeared in the April - June 2018 issue of Upbeat.