Building a Resilient Workforce That Steers Organisational Success | An Outlook Across Industries

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Protecting and sustaining businesses in food, agribusiness and beverage, financial institutions, life sciences and renewables require a resilient workforce. Organisations must consider the skills, capabilities, agility and wellbeing of their people to achieve a productive and healthy workforce.

Key Takeaways

  1. The combination of technology, skills, learning, work/life balance and macroeconomics, encourages HR leaders to deliver opportunities that drive both valuable employee outcomes and ROI for their business.
  2. Workforce resilience increases client satisfaction, profit margin, innovation, net promoter scores and employee retention.
  3. Organisations that optimise spend to invest in the needs of their people have the opportunity to build a workforce that’s better prepared to navigate uncharted change.

The Evolving Employee Landscape

To deliver for today’s agenda and prepare for years to come, organisations must ensure their workforce is capable of adapting to change. As employee needs, skills and behaviours evolve, it’s crucial for employers to invest in building a resilient workforce that can effectively navigate new challenges and opportunities.

Resilient workforces provide positive business outcomes. When the resilience of a workforce rises, so does client satisfaction, profit margin, innovation, net promoter scores and employee retention.1 To build resilience, all aspects of employee wellbeing need to be addressed, including physical, social, mental and emotional, work/life and financial needs. This also means developing a human-centered employee value proposition (EVP), where an employer’s values, culture, policies and benefits provide a positive employee experience.

Sixty-three percent of organisations say wellbeing is more important to their company since 2020, while just under half say that wellbeing has become a more significant priority in that timeframe.2 This rise in prominence brings wellbeing to the forefront of an organisation’s EVP.

In fact, Aon’s Global Wellbeing survey shows wellbeing as top priority for 38 percent of organisations over the next five years. And the higher an employer’s wellbeing ratings, the better they score when it comes to maintaining a sustainable working life — which includes a combination of resilience, agility and belonging. According to our findings, sustainable working has the potential to increase company performance by at least 11 percent and up to 55 percent due to improved morale, higher productivity and lower absenteeism.

To deliver improved wellbeing and a high-performing workforce, HR leaders must assess and address the specific needs of their people, while also championing a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). Delivering improved employee wellbeing can also have favorable impacts on corporate reputation, regulatory compliance, and shareholder engagement.

This article explores how industries and companies are navigating the evolving employee landscape, with solutions to steer organisational success through building workforce resilience.

Converging Tides: Industries are Threatened by a Sea of Human Capital Challenges

Organisations without resilient workforces were most affected when navigating workforce changes during the pandemic. If a company downsized to cut costs only to rehire as business ramped up again, for example, it generally had to pay more than 100 percent of a role’s annual salary to replace the employee. In contrast, organisations that looked towards reskilling existing employees spent on average around 10 percent of the employee annual salary.3

As high inflation challenges today’s global and local economies, HR budgets are being squeezed. Despite this, 43 percent of companies are increasing their investment in the wellbeing of their people.4 From financial earnings of employees and stakeholder pressure to meet production quotas, to the rising cost of living, macroeconomic factors impact all aspects of wellbeing — directly or indirectly.

This rising tide is putting pressure on HR to optimise return on investment (ROI) of wellbeing and benefits. At the same time, organisations also face challenges from the convergence of digitalisation, evolving skills, social and macroeconomic factors.

Although digital transformation enables more efficiency, employees must have the necessary skills to adapt and press play on the future of work. Every global region is facing a digital skills gap,5 forcing companies looking to innovate at pace to reconsider how they upskill, reskill, attract and retain digitally-enabled talent. The need for social and emotional skills is also in high demand.6 Soft skills, such as adaptability, problem-solving, active listening and communication, are transferable across sectors and vital across hybrid working models.

Sink or Swim: Industry-Specific Challenges

To respond effectively to rapidly changing risks and opportunities, organisations must address industry specific challenges. The food, agribusiness and beverage (FAB) industry must meet an uptick in demand for consumer goods while facing a skills shortage. Financial institutions (FI) are facing high employee turnover, stemming from a younger workforce attracted to employers who align with their environmental, social and governance (ESG) values and remote working needs.7

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As 71 percent of companies in the life sciences sector planned to increase their workforce in a post-pandemic ‘revival,’ the demand for skilled employees still squeezes their talent pipeline.8For renewables, pressure to power secure and sustainable futures to reach net-zero carbon requires accessible reskilling programmes for the transition from fossil fuel energy organisations.

Feeding a Need — Building Agile and Innovative Workforces Across Food, Agribusiness and Beverage

In a competitive world of consumer choice and decreasing space in the market, FAB organisations must be more connected to their customers. To build loyalty with a wide-ranging and diverse customer base, they must actively recruit an equally diverse workforce across ages, backgrounds, gender and ethnicity. Organisations in the FAB sector are challenged to sustain a growing population while achieving net-zero carbon emissions commitments.

Although diversity of skills and thought are vital ingredients for business success, the FAB industry is struggling to acquire manufacturing employees. An identity crisis around job roles in manufacturing means that organisations are finding it difficult to attract new, diverse hires, as well as reskill current employees to work in critical production roles. As development of automation within the industry progresses,9 companies must focus on shifting the traditional perceptions of manufacturing through improved EVPs and ensuring employees feel valued.10

Supporting the emotional and work/life needs of their employees is key for the FAB industry, which is evident through the push for benefits that support young families. The sector leads the charge when it comes to providing backup care vendors, with 2211 percent of FAB businesses reporting that they have a policy or initiative as part of their non-insured family support benefits. This is 6 percent higher than the figure reported for other industries. However, when supporting and retaining older talent, less than half of FAB businesses offer flexibility related to the design of roles, location and working hours, compared to a 66 percent average across industries.

New Ways to Pay — Contending with Competition Through Employee Experience in Financial Institutions

Faster, more efficient customer-centric banking has led to wide-spread digitalisation across financial institutions. Innovative business models are driving change in FIs, as new banking capabilities call for digitally-enabled talent. However, with competition from disruptive FinTechs and established institutions, FIs must have effective incentives in place to attract and retain the talent they need to offer desirable customer value propositions.

From commercial banks to brokerage firms, FIs are assessing the experience they offer to their people. To remain competitive, improved customer and employee experience is essential.

A company’s EVP should focus on more than financial wellbeing. Today’s workforce increasingly values social, physical, emotional and work/life balance as key drivers when choosing an employer. With competitive pay and compensation already a given in the financial industry, potential talent now considers professional development opportunities, flexible work arrangements, company culture, recognition and supportive feedback when making a decision.

With increasing numbers of FI employees seeking employers whose values align with their own, it’s critical for companies to maintain a strong understanding of what motivates their people. Collecting people data will enable organisations to tailor more personalised and relevant benefits, shaping effective ESG and DEIB strategies.

While FI organisations are starting to offer increased work/life balance, financial reward is still a high priority. Aon’s Pulse survey shows that 42 percent of organisations plan to offer increased workplace flexibility and 94 percent are focused on adjusting base salaries.12

Growing Culture — Sustaining Success with Resilient People in Life Sciences

Seventy-one percent of life sciences companies planned to increase their workforce in 2022 and more than one third of businesses increased their employee numbers by greater than 15 percent.13 Despite this, the industry still faces unstable talent pipelines. As new technologies are revolutionising traditional healthcare delivery models, highly skilled workers with scientific expertise, industry acumen and digital skills are in both short supply and high demand.

With 78 percent of life sciences companies attributing their rising turnover rates to better career opportunities and 77 percent to higher pay,14 organisations are constantly competing with businesses who offer better career progression and financial reward. In this competition for top talent, a focus on compensation, health and benefit strategies and total rewards will be critical to building a resilient workforce, while also enabling internal innovation.

Life sciences companies should also focus on the health needs of their workforce and their families. The industry is falling behind other sectors when it comes to providing advanced mental health support. For example only 33 percent of life sciences companies provide access to a psychiatrist compared to a 43 percent global average.15 Across all areas of family support, the sector also lags other industries, from infertility treatment coverage to supporting people with care responsibilities.

Power for the Future — Empowering People to Develop Sustainable Skills in Renewables

With the clock ticking to reach net-zero carbon emissions, it’s no surprise that renewables is one of the fastest growing industry sectors. The need for sustainable and secure energy continues to increase across industries. This encourages significant investment in renewables, which is evident by a geographically expanding industry footprint.16

This high-growth sector has an imminent need for skilled labour to meet operational demands. There’s a critical gap in the talent required to deliver on the increased number of development projects, especially in the offshore wind sub-sector. But with rapidly evolving new technologies, such as green hydrogen or battery storage, the challenges and opportunities of workforce resilience are dialed up.

Organisations must look to utilise talent from sub-sectors in the wider energy industry, such as oil and gas. As employees transition from fossil fuel sub-sectors, an untapped pool of talent is available for organisations who are willing to invest in wide-scale reskilling programs.

In line with the growth of renewables organisations across all continents, businesses will need to ensure they are exploring talent pools globally, including those in developing countries. This will ensure the renewables industry is better equipped to build and operate the infrastructure needed for a sustainable and environmentally secure world.

Solutions for Weathering the Workforce Resilience Storm

Resilient workforces are nurtured through a strategic approach to wellbeing and effective communication that empowers all employees. When organisations are data-driven they can provide more personalised benefits and rewards for their people, based on specific needs and performance at work.17 Performance-based compensation models strategically reward workers who contribute the most towards the organisation’s growth, which accelerates success in the convergence of technology, social, work/life and macro-economics.18

HR leaders must assess if their current reward program incentivises the behaviours their organisation is looking to drive and analyse outcomes against objectives. Utilising total rewards statements will demonstrate total value of pay and benefits, encouraging employees to engage and perform.

Personalise the Future of Work

Leaders must look at people data, especially from diverse talent, to better understand the needs of their current employees and those they want to attract. Delivering a clearly defined EVP, with relevant benefits, will help organisations engage, empower and equip their people to be resilient.

Build a Sustainable Working Life Culture

Shaping an organisational culture that aligns with DEIB and ESG strategies creates a workplace that balances performance with ethical and supportive choices, maximizing stakeholder return both financially and ethically.

Reskill for a Robust Workforce

With cost pressures on the rise, organisations that look to reskill can provide a cost-effective route to a resilient workforce. By assessing current job architecture and developing a robust reskilling program, employers can help employees realize their potential, become more engaged and thrive at work.

Develop an Environment of Learning

Fostering an engaging, digitally-enabled learning culture allows hires to gain broad knowledge and potential rather than focusing solely on specialised skills. This additionally encourages companies to invest in career planning, ensuring its alignment with talent development and retention programs and further supporting DEIB goals.

Provide Security, Motivation and Belonging at all Levels

Businesses must harness the power of connected wellbeing with the development of practical, powerful wellbeing solutions that are tailored to organisational, leadership, team and individual needs.

The Balance and Buoyancy of Resilient Workforces

Organisations that fail to provide a stable platform during waves of volatility will struggle to keep heads above water and retain employees past a paycheck. Despite the challenges presented, such as inflation and the Great Convergence, organisations have clear opportunities to safeguard their business by supporting their people — in both work and life.

HR leaders must assess their EVP, benefits and wellbeing approach holistically by integrating smart data models to build a full picture of their human capital. Only then can they tailor their employee value proposition and drive personalised benefits and wellbeing for their people.

Implementing progressive human resource strategies that better suit the needs of individuals, as well as the collective workforce, will enable businesses to be more relevant to more employees. To successfully deliver on DEIB and ESG commitments and build a more resilient workforce, it’s vital for organisations to always engage in transparent communication.

Leaders and teams need to ask what matters most to their employees across ages, backgrounds, gender and ethnicity. This will help to build more targeted health, wellbeing and benefits that align with business values and shape organisational culture.

By making workforce resilience a priority, businesses can manage a rapidly evolving human capital landscape and get ahead by:

  • Improving talent attraction and retention
  • Achieving DEIB and ESG goals
  • Reducing high turnover of employees
  • Minimising burnout and disengagement
  • Overcoming disruption and fostering an adaptive mindset

Empowering people to be seen and heard with a clear purpose at work sets employees up to engage and thrive.

When organisations optimise their spend to invest in the needs of their people, they have the opportunity to build a resilient workforce that’s better prepared to navigate uncharted change. With the use of data as an engine to power a personalised approach to wellbeing, HR leaders can ensure employees are agile and better equipped to adapt — steering towards shared success.

76% of leaders are reporting a loss of critical digital, technology and leadership skills, impacting their ability to remain agile and adaptable.

Source: Aon’s Global HR Pulse Survey Results – 8th Edition

1 Aon’s Rising Resilient report

2 Aon’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey

3 Transforming the talent model in the insurance industry, McKinsey, July 2020

4 Aon’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey

5 These are the Digital Skills Companies Need to Succeed in a Changing Economy, World Economic Forum, January 2022

6 Why Soft Skills Are More In Demand Than Ever, Forbes, September 2022

7 Banks struggling with employee turnover can still deploy strategy to attract talent, Insider Intelligence, September 2022

8 Aon’s Building a Resilient Workforce Demand for Talent Set to Surge

9 Economic Impacts Of Robotics And Autonomous Systems (RAS), Robotics Biz, August 2022.

10 A Multistage Approach to Solving the Labor Shortage in the F&B Industry, Food Industry Executive, November 2022

11 Aon’s Global Health DE&I Survey, Sector Report Food and Beverage, November 2022

12 Aon Proprietary Data

13 Aon’s Demand for Talent Set to Surge in 2022 for Life Sciences

14 Aon Proprietary Data

15 Aon’s Global Health DE&I Survey, Sector Report Life Sciences, November 2022

16 Investments in Renewables Reached Record High, But Need Massive Increase and More Equitable Distribution, International Renewable Energy Agency, February 2023

17 Aon’s Build a Healthier, More Resilient Workforce With The Benefits Solution

18 Aon’s Is Your Workforce Ready for the Digital Age?

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