From cloud-based software to artificial intelligence, technology will drive the workplace of the future. It’s not just technology, however. People will also be instrumental in defining what’s to come. Matthias Schacke, Co-Head Talent & Recruiting and Global Head of Talent at UBS talks about how technological innovation is shaping the work culture of tomorrow.

Most agree that the future of work will be rooted in technology. What are some of the trends shaping the workforce of the future?

Schacke: First of all, it’s obvious that technology is moving to the center of companies across many industries, driving a continuous increase in digitization, simplification and automation at an over-proportional speed. This kind of exponential development leads to multiple disruptions in the workplace as well as in the way we work – and as a result, ignites insecurity about how the future workplace will look. As leaders, we have to be open-minded about change and prepare our people accordingly.

Secondly, connectivity helps increase access to information, markets, cultures and geographies. This means that the companies and people who are best connected will have a greater chance of success. Another very important element shaping the future is the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI). Figuring out how to deploy the huge amount of data that firms have to drive processes and customer experiences using AI will be a game changer. Data is even considered a new asset class by some people, and the responsible usage of data and AI is a very important priority for UBS to make sure we serve our clients in the right way.

Parallel to these technological developments, there’s a clear demographic shift that will no doubt have a huge impact on future employment. On the one hand, we have an aging population. On the other hand, the younger generations who are entering the workforce have different expectations about how they prefer to work, live and play. Remaining an attractive employer will depend on how well companies adapt recruitment strategies, career development opportunities, employment terms and certain aspects of their corporate cultures. We may also need to adjust our assumptions about what employment means to a diverse, global and integrated talent pool.

I truly believe that these trends will lead to even fiercer competition as companies fight for talent, market share and data ownership.

What are some of the potential challenges the financial industry faces in making a digital transformation?

Schacke: I see two key challenges: 1) staying ahead of the game and; 2) learning to embrace technology-related disruptions. This will require an opportunity-oriented mindset, willingness to challenge the status quo, and an inclusive culture. We’ll need to seize the opportunities that digitization brings, and not be overly concerned about potential disruptions to business models. As competition increases, it will be more and more important to free up employee capacity so they can focus on more value-adding work, leaving simpler and repetitive tasks to automated solutions. How can we be ready for all this? We have to tap into new talent pools, have an understanding of the skills that will be required as we evolve, foster an agile, diverse and inclusive workforce, and provide continuous learning opportunities so that employees can build meaningful careers. All this will also help us remain attractive employers.

What does this mean for UBS Human Resources?

Schacke: As mentioned before, we'll need to continue to communicate openly and promote the right mindset and culture across the firm. More concretely, we are continuously adapting our employer value proposition to attract and retain the right talent. We also consider demographic developments and the skills needed in the future and build them into our work culture strategies and recruiting activities. We're driving a set of clearly defined priorities to further strengthen our diverse and inclusive workforce. We're reviewing our requirements for future leaders and building this into training programs and career development, in addition to actively promoting learning opportunities for all employees. Moreover, we are encouraging more agile and flexible work arrangements and workspaces to drive innovation, collaboration and mobility.

By 2020, millennials will dominate the workforce; Gen Z will follow. How are they different? What do they look for in an employer?

Schacke: Millennials and their successors are tech savvy, socially conscious, mobile and eager to learn. They appreciate more open, informal communication and "in the moment" feedback, and they are looking for new challenges on a frequent basis. They are also used to collaborating and working in communities with flat hierarchies. To attract and retain them, companies must be ready to adjust their current set-up, including the expected break-even points and their thinking on mutual value creation.

Against the backdrop of the current trends, what is UBS doing to make itself a more attractive employer to millennials and post-millennials?

Schacke: As a global company, we are already quite attractive. We can offer many career growth opportunities, including award-winning training programs, internal mobility and stretch assignments. We are also open to flexible working schedules and are exploring new ways to make instant feedback a part of our DNA. In terms of culture, diversity and inclusion are central to our strategy. Further, we continuously reduce barriers by embracing new technologies across the firm and breaking away from the typically restrictive environment that banks are known for. Our aim is to provide a modern working environment that includes open, digital-learning platforms including gaming, collaborative spaces, and digital factories, as well as flexible career growth opportunities. Giving millennials and post-millennials a sense of ownership and belonging, along with work environments that promote sustainability as well as diversity and inclusion, are crucial.

What career advice would you give to young adults preparing to join the workforce in the next two to five years?

Schacke: Be passionate about something! Take every opportunity to learn something new from experiences, from mistakes, and from older (and younger) generations. Go travel and experience different cultures. Engage in social and community-oriented projects. And always remember – it’s not just about technical skills. Social skills and emotional intelligence are important to both your success and your happiness, so don’t forget to build and maintain quality relationships with many different people.

Matthias Schacke, Co-Head Talent & Recruiting and Global Head of Talent at UBS.

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