Episode 40: How COVID-19 has accelerated the future of work

March 18, 2022

Video conference

Episode details

To close out the first season of the HR Trends podcast, Clare Morin welcomes futurist Ravin Jesuthasan, co-author of the new book Work without Jobs, and Greg Till, EVP and Chief People Officer of Providence Health Systems. They discuss how the pandemic has accelerated ten years of transformation in two years, and what the future holds for workers and employers.

Key Takeaways

  • The pandemic put the tech-fueled transformation of the workplace on hyperdrive. "Alvin Toffler wrote about in 1970 that we'd soon all be living in electronic cottages, liberated from the offices," Jesuthasan says. "Yet as of March 2020, only 6% of jobs were being done remotely full time. That number went to 56% overnight." [4:40]
  • The new focus is on flexibility, resilience, and agility. "We talk about these black swan events as though they're the rarest of beasts, but we've had at least three major shocks the past 20 years — we had 9/11, we had the financial crisis, and COVID. [There's a need] to be prepared for both shocks and opportunities, that's what we see as really being at the heart of this pivot toward agility." [8:30]
  • Predictive hiring lets you get ahead of the labor market. "We can predict our hiring needs based on patient volumes and revenues with about 90–95% accuracy," says Till. "It typically takes five months to fill an ICU nurse role, and we can open up the requisition five months in advance of someone leaving." [14:30]
  • Reducing the dull and the dangerous through automation. Nurse scheduling, which would take a human hours to complete, can be done in about ten seconds using artificial intelligence and machine learning — while considering employee preferences and accommodating flexibility. It's saved Providence Health an estimated $130 million. [15:00]
  • Fluidity will create a more human-centered enterprise. "We've gone from very structured approaches to work, where people/humans were cogs in the machine," says Jesuthasan. "Tight and precise job definitions, job architectures that were tied to the way processes were executed, one-to-one relationship between person and role." [18:31]
  • Businesses shouldn't be intimidated by the scale of possible change. "Don't let it be daunting," says Till. "A lot of things in Ravin's book — in healthcare, because we're highly regulated, we can't implement wholesale. We're taking some really pragmatic aspects of a visionary philosophy and applying it in reality. Saving 130 million dollars and staffing more effectively to meet our community's needs." [28:00]

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Ravin Jesuthasan headshot

Ravin Jesuthasan

Global Leader for Transformation Services, Mercer

Ravin Jesuthasan is the global leader of Mercer's Transformation Services business. He is recognized globally as a thought leader, futurist and author on the future of work and workforce transformation. Ravin has led numerous research projects for the World Economic Forum including many of its groundbreaking studies on the transformation of work and the global workforce. He is a regular participant and presenter at its annual meetings in Davos and is a member of the forum's Steering Committee on Work and Employment. Ravin was named to the Thinkers 50 Radar Class of 2020. He has also been recognized as one of the top 25 most influential consultants in the world by Consulting Magazine, one of the top eight future of work influencers by Tech News and one of the top 100 HR influencers by HR Executive. He is the author of four books and over 175 articles on the Future of Work, including 15 for the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review. A recognized speaker at major conferences around the world, Ravin is also a frequent guest lecturer at many universities including Oxford University, Northwestern University, New York University, Caltech and the University of Southern California.

Greg Till headshot

Greg Till

Chief People Officer, Providence Health Systems

Greg Till is the Chief People Officer of Providence Health Systems. In this role, Greg and his team aim to transform healthcare by bringing their innovative vision for the future of work to life. Using modern technology, unique partnerships, and grounded in Providence's mission, Greg's HR team has been able to effectively predict and shape labor needs, optimize workforce utilization, and significantly lower costs, while improving employee experience and strengthening the culture. Prior to serving at Providence, Greg held several leadership roles in field HR and talent at Raytheon Company, where he eventually served as Chief Talent Officer. In these roles, Greg led the transformation of several key business segments and revitalized Raytheon's talent system, leading to the organization's recognition as one of the "Top 25 Companies for Leaders" in North America, by Fortune Magazine. Before joining Raytheon, Greg worked as a consultant at Arthur Andersen and an instructor at Purdue and Vincennes Universities, and held roles at ExxonMobil, Communication Research Associates, and General Cinema Corporation.

About the host

Clare Morin headshot

Clare Morin

Content Marketing Manager, Unum

Clare Morin is the Content Marketing Manager at Unum and a journalist who's spent the last 20 years interviewing hundreds of thought leaders on topics ranging from wellness to culture, finance, human resources and technology. Born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong and based in the U.S. since 2009, she brings a global outlook to the HR Trends studio.

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