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"The half-life of a new degree or skill is now only 4.5 years and we need 100 days of training/year to meet this gap between our present and future skills"

Indranil Roy 

Executive Director in the Human Capital practice at Deloitte Consulting



How is technology changing the requirements of employees in the future workplace? 

When we talk about the future of human capital, one of the most anxious generations of our time come to mind is Gen Z; born after 1995. This generation does not remember a time without internet connection or mobile devices, their social networks are built digitally, they are tech savvy and worldly but have the most anxiety when it comes to connecting with other generations in the workforce. They want purpose and influence immediately, they want real-time feedback on their value, and want freedom to do what they want with the flexibility to change their role and try new things. 

While employees are anxious about their future careers, there is a need for a flexible, open-minded and adaptable workforce that is ready for continual growth and change in the future. Indranil Roy explained in his session that the half-life of a new degree or skill is now only 4.5 years and that we need 100 days of training/year to meet this gap between our present and future skills

So where does the responsibility rest? With ourselves? Our employers? Or institutions?
We look at investing in companies that look at human capital not only from traditional metrics of diversity or training and development, but also from a flexibility perspective. Can an organization adapt appropriately to the ever-changing environment and expectations of all of its stakeholders including its employees? Stephanie Nash explained companies need to create an environment where an innovative culture allows for:  

  • Continuous learning and curiosity 

  • Rapid experimentation and risk taking

  • The ability to challenge the status quo 

  • An organization that is inclusive and values diverse opinions, experiences and expertise

As investors it is truly important to understand the capacity of an organization’s ability to be flexible, as proven by the collapse of traditional brick and mortal retail in the last two decades. Amer Iqbal succinctly put together three questions to evaluate the organizational flexibility of management teams: 
1: Do they understand their strengths? 
2: Can they play outside their comfort zone?
3: Are they able to turn a threat into an opportunity? 

Traditionally, when we look at human capital it is treated as an expense, not an asset as Amer Iqbal articulated,

“It’s tough to get executives to invest in people… the returns are sometimes intangible and it can take a lot of time. Technology, on the other hand, is much more immediate in terms of creating efficiencies.” 



What we learnt from the attendees:
As with social and environmental capital, human capital also has the perceived notion that there is an increased cost when it comes to investing in these non-financial forms of capital, and hence lack of financial returns. That perception seems to be changing. We asked our attendees: 

1. Do you expect financial returns to improve or decrease with sustainable practices? 
100% responded that financial capital returns will improve with sustainable practices, albeit with a caveat that it will be seen in the medium to longer term. 
2. Should companies be judged for progress on other forms of capitals?
100% responded YES unequivocally. 
3. Would you pay more for sustainable products and companies? 
100% responded YES, including a few who gave us a cap on the premium they would be willing to pay. 
At Panarchy Partners, we believe a resilient company is one that focuses on all four forms of capital. The top question that our forum attendees wanted answered for each of the four forms of capital were: 

  • Environmental Capital – What environmental targets should a company set?

  • Human Capital – What motivates the workforce of the future? 

  • Financial Capital – Sustainability vs Risk/Return? Facts vs Fiction? 

  • Social Capital – Can innovation create opportunities for social impact?