Real Research: Devising An Equitable Future For Work

Real Research: Devising An Equitable Future For Work 

by Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist


Enabled by the connectivity of new technologies, the on-demand or gig economy saw tremendous growth in recent years. Predicted to make up 40 or 50 percent of the workforce within the next decade, these “networks of people who make a living working without any formal employment agreement” (Schwartz, Bohdal-Spiegelhoff, Gretczko, & Sloan, 2016, p. 1) have prompted many leaders to rethink their contingent workforce management strategies.


To remain attractive to the best talents in the market, organisations need to work towards creating an equitable workplace for the changing workforce. Below are two key areas for leaders to consider as they embark on the journey to devise an equitable future for work: 


Learning and Development Opportunities

Despite the growing investments in learning and development over the recent years, the privilege to attend these programmes are rarely extended to the contingent workforce. Most on-demand workers are still fully responsible for their own development and growth to stay competitive in the gig market. As organisations continue to demand for the best and latest skills from their contingent workforce, leaders should start considering how they can support and invest in these individuals.


As a start, leaders can ask themselves: 

    • Are any of our current learning programmes relevant to our contingent workforce? How can we engage them in these programmes?
    • How are our contingent workers keeping themselves up-to-date in their fields? What tools (e.g. MOOCs, online community, etc.) are they leveraging on? How might we support them?
    • How might we leverage on the diversity of our workforce to create better learning experiences for everyone? Can we engage peer-to-peer learning across our full-timers and contingent workforce?


Advancement Opportunities

Unlike full-time employees who look forward to promotion opportunities and all the benefits that come with them, contingent workers rarely enjoy the same advancement opportunities. Instead of a task-focused, transactional relationship most organisations have with their contingent workforce, leaders should rethink their compensation increment schemes and career progression opportunities to engage these workers.


Leaders can start by asking themselves:

    • How might we develop a fulfilling, long-term relationship with our contingent workforce? Are we satisfying their need for achievement? How might we do so through advancement opportunities? 
    • Do we have career progression plans for our contingent workforce? How might we better help them plan their career? 
    • How can we ensure that our contingent workers are being valued and compensated fairly? Does our compensation scheme account for the increased value they add as they continue to upgrade their skills? Are we rewarding them accordingly?


While these questions will get leaders started on their journey towards an equitable workplace, it is only the beginning. Ultimately, leaders should take a holistic view at how they can deliver a great contingent workforce experience.


What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at



  • Schwartz, J., Bohdal-Spiegelhoff, U., Gretczko, M., and Sloan, N. (2016). The gig economy: Distraction or disruption? In Deloitte University Press (2016), Global Human Capital Trends 2016. 
  • Institute for the Future. (2016). Voices of workable futures: People transforming work in the platform economy. 
  • Institute for the Future. (2016). 10 strategies for a workable future. 
  • Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. (2016). What millennials want from a new job. Harvard Business Review.


Related Articles


Real Research: Leadership Challenges of 2017

by Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist

In our last article for Real News, we discussed the impact of technological development and the shift in workforce demographics on the learning and development landscape in 2017. Building on our previous conversation, this issue explores how the changes in technology and the workforce might create challenges for leaders. We focus on three key leadership challenges of 2017 and what leaders can do to overcome these challenges:

1. Retaining Millennials

Millennials bring with them a different set of expectations. Compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they value growth and advancement opportunities significantly more. With compensation ranking sixth on Millennials’ job wish list (Rigoni and Adkins, 2016), the
traditional incentive system of premium compensation might not be enough to keep Millennial talents. Thus, leaders need to rethink the way they engage Millennials by…

  • Redesigning initiatives based on what Millennials want. Leaders can refer to numerous studies published on the topic or conduct their own internal survey to find out what’s important to Millennials.
  • Gathering feedback and continuously improving them. No one gets it right the first time. Leaders should gather feedback on the effectiveness of initiatives and continuously develop them.


2. Engaging Remote Teams

As technology makes collaboration over distance easier than ever, we see a rise in remote teams (Jones, 2015), in which members work from various locations and might not even have the chance to meet each other. While this new way of working allows companies to leverage on talents located in different places, it presents leaders with the challenge of bonding the team and engaging members. To ensure their virtual teams thrive, leaders can start by:

  • Clearly defining goals and individual roles. Leaders should set clear goals for the team and discuss how each member can contribute to achieving those goals.
  • Creating a conducive environment for trust. While trust is important for teams in all settings, it becomes even more critical for virtual teams. Leaders should encourage team members to get to know each other better beyond work, and have open discussions on how they can work with each other.


3. Developing Future Leaders

As many senior managers plan for retirement in the near future, leadership succession has become a challenge. Moving forward, leaders need to take a different perspective on leadership development and succession planning. Leaders can start planning early by…

  • Going the extra mile to identify talents. Instead of limiting themselves to the usual shortlisted top performers, leaders should cast a wider net in their search for potential leaders and include those who meet certain criteria but have not made it to the shortlist. To do so, leaders can leverage on a crowdsourcing method, where employees nominate potential talents based on their observations.
  • Being aware that formal training alone is not sufficient. While still a critical component of leadership development, formal training alone is insufficient to prepare future leaders; other significant aspects include continuous feedback and coaching (Bersin, 2016). Thus, current leaders will need to be prepared to invest more time and resources over the long run to build future leaders.


Bersin, J. (2016). 11 predictions for 2017. 

Deloitte University Press. (2016). Global human capital trend 2016.

Ferrazzi, K. (2014). Getting virtual teams right.

Harvard Business Review. Harrell, E. (2016). Succession planning: What the research says.

Harvard Business Review. Jones, J. M. (2015). In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%. Retrieved from telecommuting-work-climbs.aspx

Lane, K., Larmaraud, A., and Yueh, E. (2016). Finding hidden leaders.

McKinsey Quarterly. Maier, S. (2016). Leadership's top 3 challenges in 2017. Retrieved from https://

Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. (2016). What millennials want from a new job. Harvard Business Review.


What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at!


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