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This article is brought you by Willis Towers Watson.

The future of work is here. The extraordinary events of the recent past, the impact of automation, and changing employee expectations have disrupted traditional work models and created new opportunities for how, when and where work gets done.

Flexible work has put a spotlight on employee wellbeing

Since 2020, there has been a sharp uptick in working from home (WFH) or other flexible work arrangements. Restrictions for in-person working implemented in early 2020 have now evolved into flexible and hybrid working.

Employee safety concerns were the main reason for this shift, but over time employee engagement and retention have become increasing concerns, as mental, health and emotional wellbeing take a toll on employees.

Organisations have adapted to this by instituting formal policies around flexible work arrangements, updating benefits programmes, and introducing wellbeing initiatives.

As COVID restrictions eased through 2021, organisations are defining their permanent WFH policies going forward. For employees, this creates consistency and predictability. For leaders, this allows them to better plan for medium and long-term goals post-pandemic.

The immediate impact of these policies has been reductions in real estate and commuting expenses, partially offset by increases in subsidies and allowances for flexible work arrangements. The longer-term trends, however, are around shifts in how work and rewards programmes need to deliver a stronger employee experience in this new agile workplace.

These changes often involve reinventing today’s jobs to align with the new way of working; the evolving role of managers; the company’s overall job architecture; as well as the accompanying pay and benefits, particularly where employee wellbeing is concerned.

Update your work, rewards and benefits strategy

Expect changes in work design to achieve the optimal combination of employees, automation, and alternative talent sources to ensure a resilient and agile enterprise.

This will fundamentally change an organisation’s talent management strategy, and key enablers such as reskilling requirements, while more diverse talent pools will be critical to activating the strategy.

As skills become the currency of the labour market and work is reinvented, traditional total rewards will no longer be sufficient to attract, retain, and engage all types of talent – employees and non-employees. Instead, employers must offer in-tandem clear pathways for the continuous reskilling/upskilling of their talent to create a superior career experience.

As work and jobs are reinvented, pay will need to be adjusted and new approaches to compensation may be required, including pay for skills or pay for future potential.

To remain competitive and attract and retain top talent, benefits need to be reimagined to be more inclusive of a more diverse mix of talent and ways of working. Wellbeing and virtual work will be key to this in the future.

Executive compensation, and ESG

In the backdrop of all these changes driven by the pandemic, 2019-20 witnessed social issues gaining momentum, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Looking ahead to 2021, climate and climate transition priorities will also drive the agenda for management teams and boards.

Most large companies in North America and Europe have already incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics into executive pay plans, and we expect APAC to follow suit over the coming two years.

DEI and ESG metrics will be at the forefront of company strategies and business objectives, be part of executive incentives, as well as be tightly integrated into an organisation’s mission and purpose


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