Most companies can't address needs of changing workforce - SAP research

Companies are "unprepared for the future of work", according to research commissioned by SAP.

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Companies are "unprepared for the future of work", according to research commissioned by SAP.

Workforce 2020, a study by Oxford Economics paid for by SAP, says companies recognise the importance of managing an increasingly international, diverse and mobile workforce. However, "the majority lack the strategy, culture and solutions to do so".

Oxford Economics surveyed more than 5,400 employees and executives and interviewed 30 executives in 27 countries, finding that two-thirds of businesses have "not made significant progress" towards building a workforce that will meet their future business objectives.

“To gain advantage in the future businesses must understand the workforce of tomorrow and its importance to bottom-line success - today,” said Edward Cone, managing editor of thought leadership at Oxford Economics. “Our research shows that the C-suite is out of touch with HR on business strategy and priorities, and workers are not getting what they want from their employers in terms of incentives, benefits and training.”

The reseach says there are six top workforce issues facing companies.

According to Workforce 2020, competitive compensation is the most important attribute of a job to two-thirds of respondents - 20 percent higher than the next highest benefit. Retirement plans, flexibility and time-off rank well ahead of amenities such as fitness centres, daycare and subsidised food.

If compensation is what motivates employees, what they are most afraid of is being left behind as a result of insufficient skills and inability to keep up with the latest technologies. “Becoming obsolete” is the biggest concern for today’s worker, twice as concerning as being laid off.

Secondly, although 51 percent of executives say that millennials entering the workforce greatly impacts their workforce strategy, fewer than one-third say they are giving special attention to millennials’ particular wants and needs - primarily because executives do not understand how they think.

Much has been written about how millennials are different in their use of technology and their attitudes towards work than past generations of workers. However, the Workforce 2020 study shows that they are "surprisingly similar" to their non-millennial co-workers when it comes to workplace priorities

Millennials and non-millennials alike cite compensation as the most important benefit. Additionally, 41 percent of millennials and 38 percent of non-millennials say higher compensation would increase their loyalty and engagement with the company.

Contrary to popular thinking, millennials are no more likely than non-millennials to leave their jobs in the next six months. And millennials and non-millennials have similar priorities in areas such as meeting career and income goals and meeting goals for advancement. The two groups have similar views on the importance of corporate values and achieving a work/life balance.

Next section: Failure to support the workforce

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