Building tomorrow’s workforce, today

Channel Islands Future of Work and Skills Survey 2022

Our world of work is changing faster than ever

How we work, what our employees need from us and what we expect from them in return are being transformed. Is your organisation keeping pace?

From the acceleration in digital transformation, to mounting talent gaps and the increasing risk of employee burnout, it’s hard to think of a time when the workforce challenges facing businesses in the Channel Islands have been more significant or more complex. Tactical talent strategies built around reactive hiring and salary hikes are no longer enough.

80% of employees now prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues as they do, such as diversity, sustainability and social inclusion.

With skills shortages mounting across almost every industry, prized people know that they can have their pick of the best jobs and easily move if they don’t get what they want. The COVID-19 pandemic has also spurred a widespread rethink of working lives and ambitions. The result is what has come to be known globally as the ‘great resignation’, as overburdened or disillusioned employees go in search of a better work-life balance and/or more fulfilling opportunities elsewhere. This puts the onus on your organisation to think long and hard about how to attract and retain talent and how to make sure your ‘employer brand’ is compelling enough for today's workforce. Higher salaries and bonuses, if you can afford them, might offer a short-term solution. But they’re unlikely to provide an incentive for employees to commit to your organisation in the long-term.

Globally, PwC research reveals that more than 80% of employees now prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues as they do, such as diversity, sustainability and social inclusion. This post-pandemic rethink is an opportunity for your organisation to review, reassert and where necessary update your purpose, values and vision.

What’s also clear is that recruitment alone can’t bring your organisation into the digital age and make the most of the potential. Far from a few tech specialists, digital transformation demands upskilling throughout the entire workforce. And even if the necessary talent were to be available for hire, upskilling is the more financially feasible option. If we look at financial services specifically, research carried out by PwC in partnership with the UK Financial Services Skills Commission has found that reskilling staff can create cost savings of up to £49,100 per employee compared to recruiting or making a role redundant.

The rapid developments in technology and associated skills are occurring against the backdrop of an ever more globalised market for talent. The Channel Islands’ position as a leader in growth sectors such as alternatives investment depends on our ability to attract and retain the best people within this global talent pool – whether they choose to work remotely or here on our islands.

To find out whether Channel Islands businesses are developing the talent strategies needed to keep pace with these workforce shifts, we surveyed a cross-section of business leaders in Jersey and Guernsey. We also compared the Channel Islands findings with the results from almost 4,000 responses to PwC’s global Future of work and skills survey, along with a selection of markets we work closely with and compete against for business and talent – the UK, Ireland and Singapore.

What comes through strongly from the survey findings is that Channel Islands businesses are ahead of the curve in understanding the impact of technology on their workforce, the need to compete for global talent and the importance of reskilling, redeployment and resilience in responding. But they’re falling behind other markets in turning intentions into actions.

In a competitive market for talent and skills, it’s important to quickly get to grips with the impact of the new world of work and make the most of your employees’ potential.

The organisations that do so, will not only have an edge in the competition for talent, but will also be well placed to move swiftly and decisively to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities.

How can you bring your workforce strategy up to speed? Drawing on the survey results and our work with businesses across the Channel Islands, this report outlines the drivers for workforce transformation and how your business can get on the front foot in response.

I would like to thank all the executives who contributed to the survey for their time and insight. If there are any issues in this report you would like to discuss or you would like to know more about how your organisation can build the workforce of the future, please get in touch.

Only 39% of Channel Islands’ organisations have identified the potential risks caused by decisions to replace human work with technology versus a global average of 65%.

“The Channel Islands have always been resilient and agile, so I’m optimistic about our ability to solve the current workforce challenges. But we need to think differently and commit to real change if we want to future-proof our workforce with relevant skills. That change starts with the leadership.”

Four biggest workforce challenges

Our survey found that Channel Islands business leaders are keenly aware of the changing world of work and the implications for their industry, their organisation and their workforce. In keeping pace, these leaders identified four equally pressing challenges they need to address:

  1. The need to compete in a global market for talent
  2. Easy access to contingent workers
  3. Ability to rapidly reskill
  4. Having the right data and systems to inform workforce decisions

75% of Channel Islands organisations believe they attract talented people by providing good work-life balance and flexibility over hours and working locations.

Upskill, reskill and redeploy

More than 90% of Channel Islands business leaders recognise the importance of both agility and upskilling in keeping pace with change. But many acknowledge that they’ve been slow to develop the necessary capabilities.

When we asked leaders what’s impeding their ability to reskill and redeploy quickly, most (60%) cite their culture as the biggest barrier. They also recognise that failing to adjust their workforce to changing market needs is a key risk for their business.

This suggests that lack of leadership buy-in and the tone from the top required to drive change might be holding back progress. If leaders show little conviction for change, it's unlikely the workforce will embrace new skills and new ways of working either.

Become data smart

Good data is critical in anticipating change, tracking trends and creating an effective response.

Change management can be difficult, but understanding what the different sections of your workforce are really thinking can help to secure buy-in and identify the potential hurdles to overcome. What works for one team may not work for another, so having data to identify, develop an approach and implement tangible change is critical. Neither ‘walking the floor’ nor talking to a small section of your workforce is enough to determine your employees’ readiness to change and any barriers that could impede it.

The percentage of Channel Islands organisations using data and analytics to assess skills gaps and inform workforce decision making is noticeably lower than other parts of the world. Half the Channel Islands leaders cite issues with their systems and data. A significant proportion recognise that the inability to anticipate and track trends is a risk that could hold their businesses back.

So why is workforce data not being deployed as effectively as it could be? The first consideration is whether the technology you’re using is good enough. Is it up to date? Is it suitable for your business and geared to where it's headed? Can the technology provide data and analysis that delivers real insight to leaders? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then a review of current systems is overdue as the technology to meet these demands is now readily available.

If you do have the right systems, but still aren’t generating the information you need, it’s important to ask whether the employees working with them have the necessary skills to analyse and interpret data in a meaningful way. Do they know what to look for? Is leadership receiving timely and relevant insights to inform business decisions? If not, you should be challenging and upskilling your functional teams to deliver.

Leave the past behind

The world is changing and you need to change with it. This is especially so now that demand for talent outstrips supply. This means that employees and potential recruits are able to be more discerning about who they work for.

Offering flexible work arrangements, committing to an inclusive culture and having a strong purpose can make the difference between talent wanting to work for you or not. They can also help to strengthen creativity, productivity and loyalty within your workforce. On the flipside, dismissive attitudes like ‘this is the way we’ve always done this’ won’t win any favours with the people you need to attract, drive change now and lead your business in the future.

Channel Islands organisations are ahead of their counterparts in other markets in supporting remote working. This is positive news as we know that employees are demanding more flexibility from their employers. Experience during the pandemic has also demonstrated that many businesses can successfully operate with a more flexible approach.

But Channel Islands business leaders acknowledge that they’re behind the curve in meeting workforce expectations in key areas such as managing workloads and closing diversity pay gaps. Again culture is cited as one of the biggest barriers to progress. But so is competing priorities, suggesting that management may not believe that these issues are as critical as their employees do.

Bolster your resilience

The regulatory upheaval that followed the financial crisis and then the impact of COVID-19 have underlined the vital importance of organisational resilience. The Channel Islands have stood up to these tests. The motivation, agility and adaptability of the workforce were central to this.

Workforce resilience is now being put to the test once again as the fourth industrial revolution gathers pace. Your business can grab the opportunities that technology can bring, or risk becoming obsolete. As part of this, it’s important to recognise that the workforce dynamics are shifting as people and technology come together to drive innovation and new ways of working.

Channel Islands leaders are fully aware of the importance of workforce resilience, but less sure about how to achieve this within today’s evolving environment. Adapting to change is a clear case in point. While some human work will inevitably be replaced by technology, it’s still important to acknowledge and address employees’ concerns. This underlines the need for clear and segmented workforce data to help identify people who are at risk, their attitudes to change and the opportunities for reskilling and redeployment. The risks and uncertainties also call for clear communication and assurance. If employees are left in the dark or feel insufficiently supported, the resulting anxiety and poor experience can undermine morale, productivity and the ability to learn new skills.

Further drivers of resilience include ready access to contingent workers and the ability to compete for global talent. In both cases, Channel Islands leaders recognise these as priorities, but are less able to execute as a result of regulatory barriers.

Create an attractive environment for employees to work

The focus on purpose, need to broaden your talent pool and your employees’ desire for a more sustainable work-life balance are coming together to create a new employee value proposition.

Channel Islands leaders are in step with global counterparts in recognising the importance of flexibility and workforce empowerment. They’re also reaching out to local communities to help develop skills, improve opportunities and strengthen sources of recruitment. But few set targets for how their employer brand is perceived, which makes it hard to turn this progress into improved recruitment, retention and brand advocacy.

Key priorities include turning intentions on diversity and inclusion into real progress. But less than 30% of Channel Islands organisations hold their leaders accountable for the results, compared to more than three-quarters globally. Once again, culture and competing priorities are cited as the main barriers.

“A post pandemic reboot on workforce strategy is now overdue for Channel Island businesses. They understand the need to change and the consequences of doing nothing, but the time for action is now.”

Leyla YildirimChief Strategy Officer, PwC Channel Islands

Contact us

Leyla Yildirim

Leyla Yildirim

Chief Strategy Officer, PwC Channel Islands

Tel: +44 7781 161874

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

Advisory Director, PwC Channel Islands

Tel: +44 7700 838228

Sarah Hollingsworth

Sarah Hollingsworth

Workforce Lead, PwC Channel Islands

Tel: +44 7911 720707

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