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Future of Work

Future of work: the Good Work Alliance's impact on equitable and productive workplaces

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The World Economic Forum and 14 companies are shaping the future of work through the Good Work Alliance Image: Getty Images

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  • Good work is increasingly recognized as having a positive societal and economic impact, ultimately benefiting employees and employers alike.
  • The World Economic Forum is working with 14 global companies to improve the future of work and facilitate the Good Work Alliance, with plans to scale to 100 corporate members supporting the Good Work agenda by 2024.
  • Over 1.3 million employees benefit from initiatives leading to better job quality and satisfaction.

In a rapidly evolving globalized society, the future of work is changing. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has upended how working people think about flexibility and balance, technology is helping to meet modern-day needs.

Such adaptation is positive amid unprecedented and worldwide upheaval. Yet, there remain challenges that the World Economic Forum identifies as:

  • Demand for flexible working.
  • A silent well-being pandemic.
  • The erosion of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI).
  • Calls for a reskilling revolution.

To address these challenges, the Forum and 14 Partners founded the Good Work Alliance, a multistakeholder initiative which aims to reinvent work, the workforce and the workplace in support of a more resilient, equitable, inclusive and human-centric future of work.

The alliance created the Good Work Framework to help companies define, implement, measure and promote good work. This framework is establishing a new benchmark for job quality through goals, metrics, and target setting, enabling organizations to successfully attract and retain the talent they need.

The impact of implementing good work principles.

Against the backdrop of an ongoing digital and green transition, social transformations, shifting modes of work and a changing geo-economic landscape, there is an opportunity to reinvent work. Such momentum has been the impetus for the Forum to convene and facilitate the Good Work Alliance.

The alliance’s 14 founding members – Agility, Allianz, HSBC, Koç Holding, KPMG, Mercer (Marsh McLennan), Novo Nordisk, Randstad, Siemens, Swiss Re, Tata Steel, UBS, Unilever and Zurich Insurance Group – have made significant efforts to prioritize good work.

Together, they have reached over 1.3 million employees with initiatives to create more engaged workforces, greater job satisfaction, improved mental and physical health, lower employee turnover, stronger internal mobility and increased productivity.

"Business success can no longer be defined by financial success alone. The problems we face as a society are too great, and companies need to do better for the communities they serve by taking a leading role in any solution. That is why KPMG is proud to partner with the World Economic Forum and collaborate with a range of stakeholders to build solutions that can attempt to solve the world’s great problems."

Bill Thomas, Global Chairman & CEO, KPMG International

What are the major challenges facing the future of work and workforces?

Labour markets are currently on divergent paths: low- and middle-income countries face a growing working-age population amidst high unemployment, while advanced economies confront an ageing demographic, decreased labour participation and tight labour markets.

As the world continues to undergo rapid technological advancements, societal change and a green transition, the impact on the workforce is becoming increasingly significant. The future of work will require a workforce that is agile and adaptable to these changes.

For instance, the rise of automation and artificial intelligence creates new demands for workers with specific skills. A more globalized workforce also means employers are now competing for talent internationally. Good work approaches, however, can support talent retention, attraction and development.

Remote work is the most significant global workforce trend, affording better flexibility and autonomy. But it can also lead to isolation, burnout and difficulty maintaining a work-life balance. These impacts and a more pronounced focus on mental health in the workplace mean good work practices should support health and well-being measures.

Moreover, good work should centre DEI as its absence lowers employee morale and engagement, with negative impacts on creativity and problem-solving.

Our approach to building human-centric workplaces.

The Good Work Framework presents five focus areas to achieve the goals of the Good Work Alliance.

  • Promote fairness in wages and technology
  • Provide flexibility and protection
  • Deliver on health and well-being
  • Drive DEI
  • Foster employability and learning culture

Good practice here has been demonstrated by Unilever. In 2021, the consumer goods multinational announced a series of measures to promote good work within its workforce and beyond, including a commitment to pay at least a living wage or income to everyone who directly provides goods and services to the company by 2030.

Efforts by Siemens' also highlight how proactively reskilling and upskilling employees leads to positive outcomes for the employer and employees. And Allianz has launched a tool to enable cross-border working, enhancing flexibility.

The Good Work Alliance has already gathered over 37 time-bound and quantifiable company commitments on good work, reaching 9 industries and over 190 countries. It aims to scale its impact further, creating a global movement to improve the future of work and making good work a universal reality.

Get involved.

The Good Work Framework is a great initiative towards shaping the future of work. The initiative originates from the Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive, and just economies and societies.

To join the Good Work Alliance, members set three company targets that fit the framework. Members can submit case studies and exchange best practices and learnings with other members across industries and geographies through facilitated learning exchanges.

The group will then leverage its individual and collective power to campaign for good work.

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Partners:
AgilityAllianzHSBCKoç HoldingKPMGMercer (Marsh McLennan)Novo NordiskRandstadSiemensSwiss ReTata SteelUBSUnileverZurich Insurance Group
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