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Philips Life is better when you are you
3mo Story
How does a 128-year-old company get ready for the workforce of the future?

Philips was founded 128 years ago. Just think about that for a minute, while considering that the average age of a US S&P 500 company is now around 15 years[i]. But I’m not going to take you back to the year 1891 and outline how we got here. In business, you can’t spend too much time thinking about past successes. Instead, you should focus on shaping the future.

Back in 2011, we identified a huge opportunity to shape the future of healthcare and committed to transforming from a diversified industrial conglomerate into a focused health technology company. Today, we help care providers realize the full potential of the Quadruple Aim – an improved patient experience, better health outcomes, an improved staff experience and lower cost of care – by connecting people, data and technology. We also empower people to take a more active role in managing their own health.  

But to continue on this journey, we must ensure we have the workforce that will lead us into the future. This means defining the capabilities we’ll need in five years, 10 years and beyond, and ensuring we build and buy these capabilities as needed. With the war for top talent in the health technology industry only intensifying, we’re going to have to up our game.

Looking at trends to prepare for the future

To identify the areas that will help us attract and retain the workforce of the future, we recently held an intensive co-create session, bringing together teams from HR and beyond. We looked at the evolving workplace, discussed global trends, developed personas and created empathy maps. In the end, we came away with five key areas. Here’s the list: 

  1. There will be increasing demand for more inclusive, empowering leadership. The future will require a new type of networked organization, where teams dynamically draw from across the organization and unite around a common purpose. Teams will have to be empowered to get the job done. At the same time, leaders will be required, more than ever, to promote a trusting, inclusive environment. The future workforce will be networked and agile, and leadership will have to shift from ‘command and control’ to ‘coach and care’.
  2. Workers will increasingly look to personalize their career paths. As consumers, we have more and more options to make personal choices. We believe this trend will continue to spill over into the workplace. Workers of the future will increasingly reject the one-size-fits-all model and look for workplaces where they can play a more active role in shaping – personalizing – their jobs and careers.  
  3. Organizations will continue to shift from hierarchies and jobs to projects and capabilities. As workplaces shift from strict hierarchies to more collaborative, agile ways of working, workers of the future will increasingly move from the mindset of ‘this is my job’ to ‘these are my capabilities’, and from fixed roles to projects. With the booming gig economy, there will be many opportunities for organizations to build a strong network of freelancers and many opportunities for the freelance workforce to work on the projects they find most appealing. 
  4. Organizations will need to be set up to offer continuous feedback. In the future, we’ll see a shift from intermittent to continuous feedback. Companies will need to be set up in such a way that continuous feedback is the norm, so individuals and teams can learn and adapt on the go. 
  5. Workers will want a more purposeful experience. As more and more people look for purpose and meaning in their lives, workers will continue to be attracted to companies with a clear and compelling mission, vision and purpose. In the future, workers will want to identify even more with the purpose of the company for which they work. 

This is not an exhaustive list but the process of mapping and discussing trends is a great way to stay focused on the future. When looking at how such trends are shaping the workforce, we’re also mindful of how Philips continues to change. For example, did you know that some 60% of our R&D work is now focused on software? We’re much more a software company than most people realize. We’re responding to such developments by shifting how we attract and retain talented people with the most critical capabilities we need now and in the future. 

At the same time, while our mission to improve lives through meaningful innovation is one of the key reasons people want to work at Philips, we also know we have much to do in adapting to a changing workforce. But we’re not standing still. 

Steps we’re taking at Philips 

We’ve set up an on-demand talent platform to make it easier and more attractive for freelancers to work with us. This will also allow us to start building stronger relationships with the freelance workforce – a group that will play an increasingly important role for us as we become more agile.  

We’ve also set up an internal platform to allow colleagues to sign up for our Reverse mentoring program. This involves younger colleagues mentoring older colleagues on topics such as technology, social media, new business models, and current trends, while developing a coaching relationship with their mentee. We can all learn from each other. This is just one of several programs inspired by our #BeTheChange movement, where we’ve committed to giving colleagues a platform to drive meaningful change. 

Recognizing that we also need to do more to create a safe, trusting environment where everyone dares to speak up, ask questions, give and receive feedback, we have also appointed a dedicated team focused on developing a more inclusive culture. We believe that people work to the best of their abilities when they can be themselves and contribute to a rich diversity of opinions and perspectives.

These are just a few of the steps we’ve been taking to respond to the changing workforce of today and prepare for the future. At Philips, this is nothing new – we’ve been looking ahead for the last 128 years. That’s what’s allowed us to identify what’s coming up next, find the opportunities and adapt. And we’ll continue to do so.

As the Chief Human Resources Officer, I’d like to recognize the hundreds of thousands of committed people who have worked at Philips along the way. It’s because of our dedicated, capable workforce that we can celebrate our 128th anniversary. 

Whether you’re setting up your organization to be future-ready or someone looking to develop your capabilities, I’d love to hear how you’re preparing for the future. 

#workforceofthefuture #leadership #humanresources #lifeatPhilips


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Life is better when you are you

Philips is a world leading health technology company with a vision to make life better for people worldwide through meaningful innovation. Making good on this promise depends on our inclusive, passionate, inspirational, collaborative and diverse team.

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