The fourth industrial revolution: The “uberization” of the workforce

In a session called Talent, Culture and Risk: the Next Frontier, John Bremen, Human Capital & Benefits Leader for North America, talked about the fourth industrial revolution: the change to workforce dynamics that he described as the “uberization of the workforce.”

Like Uber drivers whose status as workers has changed, many workers today do not follow the traditional description of the employee who reports to a job every day and goes home at the end of that day. A variety of work arrangements are on the rise and while the nature of work changes, so does the workforce – in fact, changes in the personal habits and preferences of the workforce are often driving changes in the nature of work.

The resulting revolution presents employers with multiple challenges. A mobile, global, free-floating workforce can mean talent shortages, intense competition for top talent and a workforce where the expectations of one generation may be opposite of those of previous generations.

For those facing the challenge of assessing and managing the risks associated with talent, there are two categories of risk to look at.

First, there are the risks to talent. Do workers in the new age have a sense of commitment? Do they have the right skills and training? Do they exercise the right level of judgment and discretion? Do they aspire to leadership positions and have leadership skills? Are they ready to step into roles being left by retiring Baby Boomers?

Second, there are risks from talent. Less committed, shorter-term workforce can present safety issues. Change among the client-facing people at an organization may have a negative impact on retaining customers. John mentioned an alarming statistic to underscore this point. He said that customers switching from one vendor or provider to another cost organizations a total of $1.6 trillion dollars last year. These are big stakes. Clearly the risks associated with talent cannot be ignored by any organization determined to succeed in this century.

He offers a quick video recap here.


About Colleen McCarthy

Colleen is Director of Communications for Willis North America, where she has worked since 2010. Based in New York,…
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