In your role overseeing talent management and development, have you noticed any trends in technology use across generations? Are the experiences of younger generations, who entered into a hybrid workplace during or after the pandemic, different from those of older generations who had to adjust to remote work?
Younger generations – digital natives – tend to have a more intuitive relationship with technology. Having grown up with it so firmly entrenched in their lives, they’re naturally more inclined towards digital fluency and the learning curve isn’t so steep. We’re finding they’re often our biggest champions for adopting and embedding emerging technologies into the way we work, more open to trying new platforms and disrupting the status quo. In fact, we encourage that – we want to work differently, and we want our people to show us what’s possible – and Gen Z in particular are quick to identify areas that are prime for automation and streamlining with the help of (often eco-friendly) tech solutions.
This comfortability with technology has definitely shifted the expectations of newer generations when it comes to company culture and their everyday experience. More and more, we’re seeing that our new joiners (grads) expect companies to be tech-savvy; using advanced tools and platforms for communication, collaboration and work processes, while demonstrating a greater level of transparency. They’re accustomed to instant messaging apps over phone calls and they place a much higher value on remote-work flexibility than previous generations.
What are some ways in which PwC has committed to supporting its employees as the pace of digital transformation accelerates and job displacement becomes a more prevalent topic of conversation? In your view, what is the organization’s role in ensuring that employees remain relevant as the workforce of the digital future?
PwC plays a critical role in ensuring our people are future-ready – the cost of inaction would be too great for us, and them, otherwise. For the last four years, we’ve been investing in digital upskilling at scale, helping all our employees learn new skills for a digital age. Initially we focused on data and analytics, data visualization and bot technologies to help us drive better insights and work smarter. We held in-person ‘Digital Academies’, more intensive ‘Digital Accelerator’ programmes to embed change-drivers within the firm, ran Digital Innovation sessions for leaders and even offered a learning grant for anyone interested in continuing their digital upskilling.
This year we’re going full throttle with revolutionary GenAI capabilities, and have introduced a three-tiered learning path that will help our people go from a GenAI beginner to expert.
Of course we don’t expect everyone to learn to code, but we do expect that everyone can understand and feel comfortable in managing basic artificial intelligence. It’s part of the continuous learning culture we invest heavily in and work hard to foster.
There’s also a need for stronger leadership skills: the ability to inspire and empower others to take on the challenge of continuous learning, and to make good decisions about the ethical use and implementation of technology.
But it’s not about machines taking our jobs. It’s about where humans can complement AI, level things and add that human touch. ‘Human-led, tech-powered’ has always been our approach to problem-solving, and rings truer than ever as the pace of digital-transformation accelerates.
We’ll remain committed to offering relevant and curated training and development programmes, assessing and addressing skills gaps and helping employees envision career paths that incorporate their newly acquired skills. It’s a strategic investment – not just for the adaptability of our people – but for our competitiveness and relevance in an increasingly technology-driven future.
The 2023 edition of the Network Readiness Index, dedicated to the theme of trust in technology and the network society, will launch on November 20th with a hybrid event at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Register and learn more using this link.
For more information about the Network Readiness Index, visit https://networkreadinessindex.org/
Mona Abou Hana is PwC’s Chief People Officer for Europe, Middle East & Africa. Mona holds a BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut and an MBA from INSEAD