As it is understood today, work is in profound transformation, and the challenges and opportunities that will arise in the future require measures so that inequalities are not deepened, and uncertainty increases.
This is the main idea that emerges from the report Working for a brighter future produced by the World Commission on the Future of Work of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
A future of work in which various issues such as automation, the greening of economies, or demographic evolution will be mixed and require important actions and changes.
And all this through the revitalization of the social contract that ensures workers fair participation in economic progress, respect for their rights, and protection of the risks to which they are exposed in exchange for their constant contribution to the economy.
To fulfill and strengthen this social contract, the Commission proposes a program of actions focused on people that place them at the center of economic and social policies and business practices.
Future of Work is a subject where keynote speaker and bestselling author Tiffani Bova often draws opinions. Bova is ideally a leading influencer in customer experience, business model innovation, and the future of work. She was ranked #50 in 2019 as a Thinker. She authored the Wall Street Journal 800-CEO-READ bestselling book GROWTH IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business (Portfolio). Her book explores the key paths to business growth, focusing on futuristic business strategies and market dynamics, which set in motion the course of success of any modern-day business.
She is a highly revered and top-rated keynote speaker with a vast background in sales and marketing, having led major projects and been at the heart of leading brand campaigns by Fortune 500 companies. For her expert analysis of business and markets, Tiffani Bova is frequently invited to talk on the panel of leading media outlets across the country.
This article is developed using important insights from Tiffani Bova and the analysis of ILO’s report:
Work must adapt to people and not the other way around
The Commission’s program does not aim to get people to adapt to this new horizon of the labor market, but rather has a bolder vision that aims to guide the ongoing transformations towards a future of work that confers dignity, security, and equality of opportunities, and to expand human freedoms.
The first proposed step for this is to increase investment in people’s skills.
To take advantage of the ongoing transformations to open doors and create opportunities for human development, permanent learning is proposed for all people that includes not only formal and informal learning from childhood to adulthood, and that combines basic social skills and cognitive, but also encompasses the development of skills necessary to participate in a democratic society.
This will require creating an effective lifelong learning ecosystem with the active participation and support of governments, employers, workers, and educational institutions.
Transitions at work, caused by the changes mentioned initially, will require that people receive support and empowerment to carry them out successfully.
The nearest future shows a world panorama with countries or areas with a very young population. Others with an aging population and action will have to be taken so that both have their opportunities in the labor market while maximizing profits. In companies, resulting from having a diverse generation of staff.
Gender equality: a social and economic imperative
While women continue to adapt to a world of work designed by men for men, men are rarely encouraged to do jobs traditionally considered feminine.
The report recommends adopting policies that promote that men and women share care and domestic responsibilities, including the establishment and expansion of leave benefits that encourage both parents to share equally the responsibilities of caring for other people, such as children or elderly or dependents.
It also underlines the importance of accountability to advance gender equality, so that objective data is available on the magnitude of gender-based pay gaps and thereby facilitating their correction.
In both the formal and informal economies, the voice, representation, and leadership of women must be strengthened, the report emphasizes.
Women must be participants and active in the decision-making process in governments, workers ‘and employers’ organizations, cooperatives, etc.
Social protection: essential to prosper
As a human right, social protection is essential for workers and their families to manage their future transitions by freeing workers from fears and insecurities, helping them participate in labor markets.
The future of work requires robust and responsive social protection systems, based on the principles of solidarity and risk-sharing that help meet workers’ needs (for all forms of work including self-employment) throughout the life cycle.
Protection systems that in many world economies face very important challenges derived from demographic trends. These changes are taking place in the organization of work, the decrease in returns on pension investments, and the base taxable reduction.
Guarantee of universal labor rights
Assuming that workers are human beings with rights, needs, and aspirations and that work is not a commodity that can be traded in the markets looking for the highest bidder, the Commission emphasizes the need to establish a guarantee universal labor.
This guarantee must include workers’ fundamental rights, an adequate living wage, limits to working hours, and guarantee safety and health in the workplace.
All workers, regardless of their contractual modality or employment situation, must enjoy adequate protection that guarantees humane working conditions.
Expanding the scope of labor protection can, in turn, provide a transition path from informal to formal employment for many workers while ensuring that these workers enjoy basic rights and income security.
Workers also need greater sovereignty over their time that improves their health and well-being and their personal and business performance.
Governments, employers, and workers should invest efforts in developing agreements on the organization of working time that allow workers to choose their working hours, subject to the company’s needs for greater flexibility.
The participation and revitalization of collective representation and social dialogue will undoubtedly be necessary to achieve these objectives.
Similarly, workers and managers have to redesign the conception of the job, manage technology in favor of decent work, respect their rights on digital platforms, and regulate the use of data and responsibility for the control of algorithms in the world of work.
Decent and sustainable work to meet the SDGs
Countries have adopted the goal of full employment and decent work for all and the need to take responsible actions to achieve the sustainability of the planet, with the idea of meeting the 2030 Agenda on the horizon.
Investments in these fields will also result in other issues such as gender equality, the development of the rural economy, or the increase in business in renewable energies, construction, and environmentally sustainable conditioning, with very important repercussions in terms of the creation of employment and retraining of the workforce.
For this to be achieved, measures such as the remodeling of business incentive structures in favor of long-term investment strategies, and the search for supplementary indicators of human development and well-being will be necessary.
The Commission also includes within these measures fair tax policies, the revision of company accounting regulations, greater representation of interested parties, and changes in reporting practices.