Making the Human Difference
As businesses face rapid technological, regulatory and political change, we asked Head of Human Capital UK at PwC, Sally Mitton (Industrial Economics, 1982), for her thoughts on how organisations can embrace the new digital opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and prepare a workforce fit for the future.
“I’ve been privileged to work for PwC for over 25 years and believe the technological advances we’re seeing today represent the biggest change to impact our workforce. Cloud-based services and 24 hr connectivity are completely transforming the working environment. It’s not just about when and where people work, but how they work, what they work on and what tools they use.
“At PwC, we’ve redeveloping our offices to create more open, collaborative workspaces and are investing regionally, spending significant amounts on upgrading our digital infrastructure. We’ve introduced policies like ‘everyday flexibility’ and ‘dress for your day,’ and no longer expect our teams to sit around the same table in the same meeting room. We’ve made it acceptable for people to be in different places, working to different patterns without judgement.
“We’re committed to creating a diverse, inclusive workplace that works for everyone because we know that diverse teams deliver better outcomes for all. We started by redefining our core values and who are as a business. In the digital age, this clear strategic messaging is key and transparency is vital.
Investing in people is the way to make a human difference in a digital world.
“We know that people increasingly want to work for companies that are socially responsible and technologically advanced, so finding ways to stand out and meet the expectations of graduates is a big driver for us. We’ve transformed our recruitment process using gamification to better reflect our values and signal to potential employees what we stand for.
"Candidates are immersed into a world of rich avatars, where they complete challenges linked to work-based behaviours, values and culture. It’s a scientifically-robust psychometric screening tool but one that’s fun to engage with. As a result, we find that people are more authentic, meaning that we can see beyond the interview ‘front’ that candidates put up. Those who aren’t successful still leave with a positive association, having learnt something of themselves through the process.
“I urge business leaders to think carefully about what skills are most valuable to you in your human workforce. At PwC, we call this the ‘human difference’. Let machines do the data-driven tasks that they are best suited too. In our staff, we prize creative thinkers; leaders at all levels who can inspire and support colleagues; and those with emotional intelligence who can build really strong relationships with people. Work out what you need most and invest in developing those skills.
“Secondly, be prepared to deal with the human response to change and work out how you can help your whole workforce to feel comfortable. Adopting new technology may be easy for some but others may feel differently and need more support. Show people how technology can meet their needs, while developing their resilience and adaptability. People who crave consistency above all else will find any workplace increasingly uncomfortable.
“I don’t believe we have all the answers at PwC but I do think the future is very positive. Technology is significantly enhancing our performance and helping us to attract and retain talent. Whatever your industry, investing in people is the way to leverage your human difference in a digital world.”
Words: Sally Mitton (Industrial Economics, 1982), Contributor
After completing her degree at Nottingham Sally joined IBM's marketing team. Leaving her role to complete a full-time MBA, Sally went on to join PwC. She began her career with PwC in consultancy before moving into various roles leading the Internal Resourcing, Human Resources, Learning and Development and Recruitment functions.
She currently leads the Human Capital (HR) function for PwC in the UK, with particular interests in outsourcing and transforming HR.