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Who are those leading the future of work

July 11, 2022

Experts from MIT Sloan School of Management pointed out the main features that workers must develop to succeed in the coming decades, and how companies must adapt to this reality. According to them, in the years ahead, leaders will need to adopt new management styles, consider a new social contract that includes multiple stakeholders, and seek workers prepared to navigate ongoing ambiguity and change. 

Based on a range of research, the academics highlight the top three characteristics of the “professional of the future” – and what companies should offer to attract workers with these traits:

They’re data-literate

Research shows that data-driven companies enjoy increased revenue, better customer service, operational efficiency, and higher profitability. Professionals, therefore, should feel comfortable working with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robots. 

According to the business school article, experts agree that the future of artificial intelligence is the future of work. However, there is no guarantee that this growth will be entirely positive. 

“Everyone’s going to play a role and be responsible for moving [firms] forward in new ways of work that include data,” said Barbara Wixom, a principal research scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research. “Data’s a team sport, and the entire organization is the team.”

They’re empowered

According to research by MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Kochan, director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research, workers report experiencing a sizable “voice gap” at work — that is, a gap between how much say or influence they feel they ought to have and how much they actually have — on topics such as wages, working conditions, and fair treatment.

Kochan suggests that employers and employees should enter into a new social contract that offers high rates of return for investors while supporting quality careers. Items in that contract include:

  • Careful selection of employees with strong technical and behavioral skills;
  • Continuous investment in training and staff development
  • Respect for labor rights
  • Opportunities for employees to adapt to new technologies and work requirements
  • Fair and transparent compensation systems that ensure workers’ compensation increases in line with overall business and economic performance;
  • A voice for employees in critical business decisions that will shape their future.

They’re committed to advances in equity and the environment

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 83% of tech executives are white. At Apple, 6% of the tech workforce last year was Black. At Google, just under one-quarter of interns were Black and Latinx, and 5.5% of new hires were Black. 

To close the tech gap, it’s essential to cultivate diversity in the workforce, according to Malia Lazu, a former Berkshire Bank executive vice president and current MIT Sloan lecturer who focuses on inclusion in the innovation economy. Actions include exposing all kids to STEM at an early age; making higher education more affordable and more equitable; hiring based on skill set rather than degree; and assessing and diversifying professional networks.

Source: MIT Sloan