Future-proofing Your Organisation | EAPA-SA

Future-proofing an organisation starts with future-proofing its employees. As organisations rebuild in the aftermath of the global pandemic, those that take the opportunity to retain, upskill, empower and holistically support employees – and so future-proof their workforce – will outperform their competitors. This is even more true for organisations with the dispersed workforces that have become so common during the pandemic. 

Here are three employee-focused ways in which to future-proof an organisation:


Employees join organisations for the opportunities, but they stay for the culture. One of the biggest challenges for organisations going forward will be maintaining their culture in a remote or hybrid work environment. Organisations of the future will need to ensure that their culture embraces “people-first” values that include employee mental health and wellness, and self-care. Successfully demonstrating these values needs to start at the topmost levels of the organisation, and requires intention, planning and hard work.

“Employees join organisations for the opportunities, but they stay for the culture.”

Future-orientated action
  • An empowered workforce with the right tools is happier and more productive:  Create a culture that is dedicated to building employees’ skills and capabilities as well as nurturing wellbeing – from training in digital skills to building greater resilience, while growing leadership skills and creative problem-solving capabilities.
  • Give your employees what they need to thrive: Leaders need to connect with team members as much as possible to understand their holistic needs—not just those related to their job performance, but also those that support sustainable productivity through nurturing whole-person health and wellness.



South Africans are resigning from their jobs in search of a healthier company culture and better work-life balance, as opposed to just wanting a higher salary.  Due to our high unemployment rate in South Africa, dominated by unskilled labour, a more subdued version of the global “Great Resignation” is playing out. However, according to Remchannel, Old Mutual’s reward management platform, in 2021, more than 36 percent of all employment terminations were due to resignations, driven by an exodus of skilled professionals. This equates to almost 40,000 employees who resigned from 82 companies, which is a far higher rate than was recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Employees who are most likely to look for another job are planning to do so because they don’t find their current job fulfilling. 

  • They feel they cannot express their true selves at work, 
  • do not feel their team cares about them, and 
  • feel like their managers do not listen to them.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/why-south-africans-are-resigning-from-their-jobs-2022-5

“Managers can invest to upskill their people, give them greater autonomy over their work and take other steps to empower them.”

Future-orientated action: 

Educate and equip managers with leadership skills to create the right work environment:  Organisations that rely on a larger workforce will need to reshape the way they manage employees. The most successful organisations will be those who look to develop their management, supported by technology, to support and upskill (or cross-skill) their current workforce, as well as nurture their capabilities, enabling them to fill at least some of their skills-gaps with existing employees.  Managers are strategically placed to interact with employees one-on-one and can remove the most burdensome aspects of employees’ lives – eliminating excessive bureaucracy, reducing points of friction and building into employees’ work lives. Managers can invest to upskill their people, give them greater autonomy over their work and take other steps to empower them.

  • Pursue diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to ensure happy, healthy and loyal employees. Every employee deserves to be treated with respect and compassion by leaders, managers and their peers. And, importantly, there is growing evidence that organisations which prioritise DEI do better than those which don’t. Organisations which champion policies that promote fair representation and the involvement of people from different orientations and backgrounds have been proven to increase profits, drive innovation and enable access to new markets. 


Technological advancements are changing the nature of work and, with it, the up-to-date skills employees need to succeed. The World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report 2020 states: 

 “The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead-up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving and skills in self-management, such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.” Unfortunately, many organisations feel ill-equipped – they believe they lack the insights and commitment needed to effectively reimagine work and equip workers to meet their organisation’s needs.

“The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead-up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving and skills”

Future-orientated action:

The first step is to understand the key characteristics of a future-ready workforce.

  • The future workforce is hybrid in nature, often including contingent workers such as contractors, freelancers, and gig workers, who operate alongside traditional employees. As well, the modern workforce may not be entirely human. Technology has become part of it, performing tasks essential to the business with little to no human intervention: chatbots field customer inquiries; robots handle tedious administrative tasks; drones perform safety inspections; cognitive systems analyse and pull insights from massive amounts of data.
  • The future-ready workforce is built on enduring capabilities. Skills still tend to dominate the conversation about the future of work and the workforce. This is not surprising, because for much of the 20th century, skills were what companies needed to get work done. However, in a world that requires more skills that are refreshed more often, these skills become less important than the enduring human capabilities that enable workers to learn, apply, and adapt them. These capabilities include:
    • Imagination: Seeing through a variety of lenses that challenge existing assumptions about what’s possible. 
    • Empathy: Understanding and considering the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of others. 
    • Curiosity: Seeking new information and experiences, striving for greater understanding, and asking questions. 
    • Resilience: Persisting despite challenges, obstacles, or disruptions. 
    • Creativity: Innovating, improvising, and using resources in unexpected ways.
    • Emotional intelligence: Understanding others’ emotions and experiences and how they shape human interactions. 
    • Teaming: Collaborating effectively across spatial, organizational, and cultural boundaries. 
    • Social intelligence: Understanding interpersonal dynamics and behavioural impacts of human interactions. 
    • Sense-making: Creating meaning and awareness out of collective experiences.
    • Critical thinking: Analysing, evaluating, synthesizing, and reconstructing information.
    • Adaptive thinking: Recognizing new patterns and applying patterns in new contexts.


  • The future-ready workforce is rooted in a culture of continual, lifelong learning, which is embedded and integrated into the flow of work. This isn’t a fancy way of describing on-the-job training; it’s fundamentally different. It’s embedding learning into activities that are already part of workers’ daily responsibilities, using tools they’re familiar with to create a highly effective learning environment.  

“The human workforce remains vital to the future success of any business.”

The human workforce remains vital to the future success of any business. Their imagination, creativity, empathy and other uniquely human qualities are the key to unlocking the kind of innovation and opportunities organisations need to thrive in the years to come. But today’s workforce has some way to go before it is future-ready. Within each organisation, the work itself must be re-envisioned, and new skills and capabilities must be developed and nurtured to make this a reality.