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HR Meeting 2018

New technology, Generation Z, employee experience and an emphasis on wellbeing – these four keywords resonated throughout the 2019 HR Meeting where Deloitte had a position of the general partner.

While nine years ago, attention was given to the area of HR as such and common processes as regards the recruitment of new and maintaining current employees, organisations are nowadays assessed in a much wider context. Socially responsible businesses with a human approach, for which employees are not a mere item on payslips but persons that have to be treated individually, are on the front burner. These are the words of Michael C. Liley, Partner in the Consulting function at Deloitte Germany, who was the first speaker at this year’s HR Meeting.

A combination of “Silver Generation”, Africa and women. And automation, of course

Michael presented the results of the latest Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, which indicate that businesses plan investments in new technology, especially in automation and artificial intelligence, in the coming year. Industry 4.0 has unprecedented impacts on work, employees and businesses. The future of work will depend on how companies and individuals are able to adapt to the new conditions.

The language of figures is clear: As many as 80% of respondents anticipate that deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) at the workplace will increase in the next three years but only 13% of them believe that a significant number of positions will cease to exist as a result of automation. What is more, companies have already learnt that none of the aforementioned categories has to necessarily dominate – it is the key that effectively complement each other at workplace. For details, read the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte with a survey of almost 10,000 participants from 119 countries, including the Czech Republic.

An influential role will also be played by a wide group of young people from Africa along with the so-called “Silver Generation”, i.e. age group of 60+, who will be active players on the global labour market – and this will also apply to women whose positions at work is anticipated to finally improve. “Another crucial fact will be taken into consideration; namely, there will be no age limit for retiring as people will be willing to work. This will be enabled by high-quality health care, longevity, appetite of this generation to work as long as possible but predominantly technology, such as automation, smart technology and AI” noted Michael C. Liley.

Michael, imagine jumping in time to 2029. What will the workplace be like 10 years from now?

A wide range of current work positions have ceased to exist as a consequence of Industry 4.0. The nature of work has changed; almost everyone is used to working with machines, such as AI, robots, etc. Some types of work and some tasks have been entirely automated with human abilities being further extended. There are probably some entirely new jobs which we are neither aware of yet, nor can we designate them. Most likely, these work positions are on the boundary between men and machines.

Now back to 2019. How should we prepare for the future and what are the risks if businesses are behind the times?

We already need to start preparing scenarios of such developments, i.e. what is our workplace going to be like in the future, mostly in view of necessary skills and composition of workforce. This principally relates to employees, the so-called gig economy, when companies hire external staff instead of full-time employees, or cloud in the area of HR etc. Organisations will have to actively plan workforce transformation to prepare for the future and changes to affect their industries. If they fail to manage this, they will not be competitive on the market as such, let alone the talent market.

Supporting health and wellbeing is already commonly included in employee benefits with the aim of achieving work-life balance, maintaining physical and mental health and fitness even during working hours. New office buildings thus automatically offer fitness centres and other sports facilities; massage, yoga, anti-stress classes and promoting healthy eating have become a standard. Companies organise health days directly in their office or provide fruits in winter months free of charge. Those who still want more can choose from a wide array of benefits – contributions to sports activities outside the workplace, passes, lectures, professional consultations, premium health care etc. – which may often be used by family members as well. Working at 200% capacity is no longer a trend which employees are willing to follow and companies are aware of that.

Another block at the HR Meeting focused directly on wellbeing and the need for work-life balance. What was said during this block?

Adam Vojtěch, Minister of Health of the Czech Republic: In some countries, mental diseases cause a loss of GDP of 2-2.5%, which is a large amount of money going down the drain because of insufficient attention paid to preventing mental illnesses at work. Wellbeing has been a priority for the Ministry of Health in recent years and it is also part of the National Mental Health Action Plan. For example, we intend to introduce an obligation for employers to evaluate every other year how they use the plan. The lack of wellbeing leads to the loss of work productivity. Wellbeing forms an integral part of safety at work which each employer should pay attention to.

Marta Skalická, Country Manager at AES Advanced Enrollment Solutions: It is not often the case that companies do not want or are unwilling to give a helping hand. It is more about us being unable to accept it. In the Czech Republic, we are often on the bounds of our physical and mental possibilities. We are frequently unable to explain to our colleagues that because of our children we have to set simple rules. For example, when a meeting is supposed to finish at 4 p.m., it will simply have to finish at that time because the kindergarten closes as 5 p.m. The Netherlands is a great source of inspiration to me: when you become a parent, you no longer work five days a week. We are human beings with different needs and it is necessary to talk about them.

Alice Hejzlarová, Managing Partner at LP Legal: It is about prevention and individual employers thinking of their employees’ wellbeing. Overloading causes pathological relationships at work, which includes, for example, mobbing, bossing, staffing (ie bullying by underlings) or chairing when two employees compete for the same position. All of these factors may influence the entire team and productivity of a company.

Photographs used in this article were taken by Radek Vebr, Economia. We would like to thank Economia for the opportunity to use them.

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