NEW YORK—Businesses strive to stay ahead of trends to maximize sales. But what is being done to maximize human capital? That was the question posed at the Vision Monday Leadership Summit featuring guest speaker Kraig Eaton, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, who examined Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report.

Deloitte Consulting’s Kraig Eaton believes reimagining the workplace will be a major focus for businesses as they navigate a hybrid workforce.

The report analyzes the current state of the workplace with a focus on “new fundamentals for a boundaryless world.” Since the pandemic, workplaces have been more dynamic, with many employees working from home or taking on added responsibility to fill in gaps. Eaton said this is the new normal and that workplaces are going to have to understand how their employees play a role as human capital, tapping into their talents beyond what their job description may be.

“Experiment, get just in time feedback and insights from your workforce on what’s working well and what’s not working well and then quickly refine and incorporate that feedback into a secondary strategy or a revision to the program.

“I call it the iPhone effect,” he told those in attendance at the Summit. “We don’t ask for updates. We just get them three or four times a year. Same thing as it relates to your workforce strategies in your program. You need to experiment, you need to roll out quickly. You need to gather insights from non-traditional sources, incorporate that insight into a revision of your strategy or your program or your solution, and then continue to do that.”

Eaton believes reimagining the workplace will be a major focus for businesses as they navigate a hybrid workforce. “Reimagination means it’s not about doing the same thing and just finding ways in which to do it more efficiently. It’s basically breaking the work down and rebuilding it from the ground up and being unconstructed, outside of compliance and regulatory constraints,” he said.

Charting a new path begins with companies creating a relationship with the workforce beyond traditional focus groups, and instead engaging with their employees to create human capital strategies. This means bringing your team into the conversation in the early development stages, including those who work for companies on a freelance basis.

“Our data shows that organizations that create that symbiotic relationship with a workforce are almost two times more likely to have a higher level of engagement within our workforce and obviously engagement yields to productivity and is two times more likely to be innovative,” he said.

The study found that positive change can only happen when the role of leader is changed from a position or place in the hierarchy to anyone who mobilizes workers.

“Our workers are motivated to share information around their skills and capabilities on LinkedIn because it benefits them,” he said. “So what organizations are starting to do is create things like internal talent marketplaces, where they’re sharing opportunities with their workers, and letting workers match their skills to those opportunities, and in essence, vie for that opportunity. You’re actually gigifying your own workforce.”

Eaton believes that businesses can use this talent and skill to help not only improve their operations, but contribute to their employees’ success, shareholders and society as a whole.

“This focuses on the implications and risks to the human worker and to the humans in the societies you operate. This has to be within that framework and then, last but not least, it is the leading advantage of this world,” he said, adding that businesses need to look at incentives differently and consider how providing a more human capital focused workplace will have a broader impact on society as a whole.

“We have to start to think differently around our incentives, our performance management processes, and start to think about how doing right for the worker and doing right for society find their way into a measure of success for our leaders,” he concluded.