Future of Work Top Challenges Revealed


Skills most in demand, top people challenges and impact of technology explored in Global Survey

A global survey of HR Directors and Talent Managers conducted by Irish firm Harmonics and OI Global Partners (one of the world’s largest career consulting partnerships) has revealed:

  • Two thirds of respondents say that adapting to change is the biggest people challenge facing their organisation, followed by attracting and hiring new talent. Retaining key talent is third on the list.
  • By contrast, in Ireland, the second and third biggest people challenges are employee engagement and managers lacking coaching skills.
  • Collaborating with others is emphatically the most valued skill today (73%) followed by the ability to Embrace Change (63%) and Leadership Agility (62%)
  • Surprisingly, 38% believe new technologies (AI/machine learning) will have no impact on jobs in their organisation, 35% believe it will lead to more jobs and just 28% believe there will be a loss of jobs in the coming year.
  • However, in Ireland almost half of those surveyed believe that new technologies will result in a loss of jobs in their organisation
  • The top 3 most effective activities in developing talent are: leadership development programmes, assessments and one-to-one coaching with external coaches.
  • Over a third do not have employer brand strategies in place

John Fitzgerald, managing director, Harmonics, said, “There is a direct correlation between the number one most valued skill and one of the key people challenges that organisations are facing – adapting to change. The speed of change in the global economy means employers are almost always in a restructuring and change mode. So, they are looking for people who excel at collaboration as they can possess an ability to adapt to uncertainty, normally communicate clearly and exhibit the leadership agility required in rapidly changing conditions.”

“It is interesting to note that the potential impact of new technologies on jobs is viewed far more pessimistically in Ireland. The rise of AI and automation will lead to new ways of working but our ongoing research suggests that while certain jobs will be lost, almost twice as many will be created. Organisations need to help their employees to adapt to change and develop the skills they need as well as a growth mindset,” he continued.

“Surprisingly, over a third of organisations do not have employer brand strategies in place. Most leading organisations value such strategies because of their positive impact on talent acquisition, employee retention and positioning the organisation in the marketplace. Organisations that fail to embrace such strategies will face a talent crisis,” concluded Mr Fitzgerald.

This is the fourth annual survey that Harmonics has conducted in association with OI Global Partners on the Future of Work.

About the survey: 

The survey was conducted in July, August and September 2019. There were over 1,000 respondents from 25 countries.  Organisations of all sizes weighed in, with half reporting more than 500 employees. Respondents represented every one of 16 major industry groups, with heaviest response from Financial Services, Business Support & Logistics, Technology, Telecom, Internet & Electronics and Manufacturing.

About OI Global Partners
OI Global Partners is a leading human resources consulting firm that helps organizations manage their talent and individuals manage their careers. More than 1,000 consultants strong with 225 offices in 25 countries, our reach assures customers a broad suite of talent management services and a deep base of experienced consultants. For more information, please visit

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