Chameleon workers – how they can help your business flourish - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

Chameleon workers – how they can help your business flourish


As businesses are being forced to change, become more agile and disruptive to remain competitive, the pressure on employees to adapt is increasing.
The rapid way in which technology has changed and the inability, as well as resistance from employees to keep up, is leaving organisations in a digital wasteland.

This is costing them profits, market share and is leaving them battling to survive.

According to the 2016 Accenture Technology Vision Survey, a new type of worker has entered the marketplace. This new type of worker, the chameleon, can adapt to change, learn new skills in a short space of time and seamlessly move from assignment to assignment. They are contributing to a new trend that Accenture refers to as the ‘liquid workforce’.

In the same study, in which 3 100 executives were interviewed, 80% said that within the next three years, the ‘chameleon worker’ will be their most valued workers. It’s their proficiency with digital technology and their ability to embrace change that makes these new employees a valued asset.

Additional advantages of this workforce include their willingness to work as part of a team, openness to new training and a constantly evolving skill set.

However, to attract, and more importantly, retain these new agile workers, businesses need to create an environment in which they can flourish.

The first and most important step is to move away from rigid business structures and create an environment where the chameleon workforce can achieve the change that they were brought in for. Human Resources departments will need to play a part in this change by moving away from people management and rather embracing the concept of ‘orchestrating talent’ to optimise an organisation’s output.

The largest employee input of 2015 is the introduction of millennials. These digital natives are increasingly becoming the largest sector of the workforce and businesses need to change to be able to engage with them differently.

In addition, rather than seeing themselves merely as ‘employees’ in the traditional sense, these employees see themselves as ‘customers’ of a business – and expect the management style and internal technology processes to reflect this. Systems such as HR and Payroll solutions, as well as business management solutions, need to be intuitive and offer the same user experience that employees get from the platforms they use in their personal lives.

‘Chameleons’ also have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Skills development is of the utmost importance to them. They look for employers who provide consistent online learning experiences, access to courses and information that can help them rapidly learn new skills.

Heidi Duvenage is the Head: Sage Talent Solutions.

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