— 7 min read

In the current situation, where the global economy is facing "talent time bomb", investment in workforce is crucial. In whichever way you look at it, educating skilled workforce and providing them with necessary tools, is an investment opportunity like any other.

Getting the most out of your workforce will help you improve the bottom line. After all, company's human capital is its competitiveness and its future. Taking together the global workplace trends we're up against, here are 3 necessary actions to take that have a high return on investment:

investments in workforce infographic weekdone

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Investment in management development plans to make people VUCA-capable

According to the Global Leadership Forecast, leaders aren't ready to face the challenges they are up against. Only 17% of executives believe their talent programs are "world-class across the board", while 83% acknowledge that significant improvements need to be made.

We're living in a VUCA world. A world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Therefore, it's necessary to develop readiness and prepare people to:

  • Anticipate and react to the nature and speed of change – volatility;
  • Act decisively without always having clear direction and certainty – uncertainty;
  • Navigate through chaos, complexity and confusion – complexity;
  • Maintain effectiveness despite constant surprises and lack of predictability – ambiguity.

From people surveyed, only 18% were identified as “very capable” to face VUCA challenge, whereas 25% aren't capable to face VUCA challenge. The biggest stumbling stone? Developing readiness for volatility. Yet, VUCA-capable leaders are:

  • 3.5 X more likely to have a strong leadership bench;
  • 3 X more likely to have financial performance commensurate with the top 20%.

Having a focus on developing future talent at the front line is a sign of an healthy organization. What is more, organizations with highly rated leadership development programs are 8.8 times more likely to have high leadership quality and 7.4 times more likely to have leaders who are highly engaged.

Therefore, investing in leadership development plans yields for great results. In order to prepare people for facing the VUCA challenge, focus plans to develop these skills and know-how:

  • managing and introducing change;
  • building consensus and commitment
  • inspiring others toward a challenging future vision
  • leading across generations

Nonetheless, it's not the only crucial investment that should be done within this year. There's also:

Investment in big data to get insights into employees

Did you know that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last couple of years alone.

Big data has become way more important than just a fancy buzzword. You need a clear understanding of how workforce policies, behaviors, team dynamics impact productivity. To get these insights, you need to collect and analyse data. What is more, in 2015 managers will increasingly interpret data relating to employee retention and performance, and use it for decision-making. Increased connectivity through new technologies and big data could result in $14.4 trillion of added value across global industries.

According to research, 28% of managers in high-performance companies  are directly accessing HR data, compared to 18% at other companies. In order to utilize this opportunity an investment in big data must be made. After all, the impact of data on workforce management is staged to revolutionize how leaders evaluate the effectiveness of policies, leverage  strengths and empower teams.

What to do?

Invest in people with deep technical and analytical expertise now. By 2018, there will be a shortage of over 140,000-190,0000 professionals with these skills. Also,invest in data mining technology that can provide predictive patterns into employees. Harnessing data on actual employee behaviors is a prerequisite for empowering teams to be more productive.

Investment in social technology to collaborate efficiently

Fun fact: Over the past years, the speed of adopting to new technology has seen a rapid growth. It took commercial television 13 years to reach 50 million households and internet 3 years to sign their 50 millionth subscriber, it took Facebook just 1 year to hit 50 million users and Twitter 9 months.

Faster than ever, social technology is forcing its way to the workplace. According to McKinsey report 90% of companies using social technologies report a business benefit from them. While roughly 72% of companies use social technology, very few are anywhere close to achieving the full potential benefit.

Overall, there’s $900 billion to 1.3 trillion that could be unlocked by social technologies:

  • $345 billion available from product development;
  • $500 billion from marketing, sales and after-sales support activities;
  • $230 billion from improvements in business support activities.

⅔ of this overall value creation opportunity lies in improving communications and collaboration. Knowledge workers spend 28 hours each week writing e-mails, searching for information, and collaborating internally. 25% to 30% of this time could be saved if the main channel for collaboration is moved over to a social platform.

One way to get insights into your team and enhance internal communications is by using social technology like Weekdone. Using these applications internally, messages become content and big data becomes digestible information.