Modernizing the workforce is key to business success

group of employees in a video conference
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Accelerated digital transformation is changing the way organizations work, and technology innovations require quickly changing and adaptable skills. Global spending on digital transformation is projected to reach $1.6 trillion in 2022. The challenge for organizations is how best to ensure that their existing workforce will be able to provide the skills to enable this transformation.

According to Infosys’ Modernisation Radar 2022 report, most CIOs have identified a lack of skills as the leading deterrent to modernisation. In another study by McKinsey, an estimated 94 million in Europe will need to acquire new skills in their current jobs as AI and automation will take over 20% of their tasks. These numbers point out the urgency of modernising the workforce by investing not just in training but on technology, policies, and culture to ensure employee skills stay relevant and up to date as jobs get redefined to match the demands of the business.

How to modernize the existing workforce without upsetting the current scenario

The workforce modernization strategy must consider the following elements for best outcomes – upskilling and reskilling, focusing on developing and honing niche skills and leveraging the gig economy. Lastly, fostering a culture of continuous learning and emphasizing on change management for better adaptation to new work dynamics is essential. Let’s look at each element of workforce modernization.

Gautam Khanna

Gautam Khanna is Vice President and Global Head for Modernization Practice at Infosys.


Upskilling is about learning additional skills to fulfil job roles that are aligned to meet new business demands. The plan to upskill must oriented with company goals to ensure the effort and expenditure involved serve the business objectives. It must begin with the identification of new skills needed, both in short term and mid-term to long term. A digital talent pipeline that ensures existing employees are upskilled through training and new talent is hired based on desired skillsets can accelerate the upskill agenda.

Companies should consider collaborating with business schools and universities, and encouraging employees to self-learn continuously, on anytime, anywhere online learning platforms when laying down their upskilling plans. Employees can be motivated with personalized, well defined career paths and by offering them with opportunities to acquire professional certifications and learn new skills at their own time, pace and need.


In a rapidly transforming digital age, skill sets learned today become redundant tomorrow, and the need arises for a new set of skills. Reskilling is an option that offers a win-win situation to both the organization and the workforce. It empowers employees to unlearn old ways of doing things and pick up new skills. Reskilling helps the organization to grow with its current workforce avoiding the cumbersome process of bringing in new talent. A recent survey by McKinsey states that nearly 69 percent of the participant organizations have doubled down on skilling efforts since the pandemic and are reaping benefits.

Honing niche skills

Companies that hire and hone employees skilled in niche areas have a competitive edge. Such skills are hard to come by and require considerable training and investment. Next-gen cloud-native architects, AI scientists, data analysts are examples of talent that are in high demand.

Opensource skills is another significant area of learning that can provide opportunities to knowledge workers to innovate by applying new and emerging development techniques such as DevOps, UI/UX design and mobile, omnichannel and personalization methodologies.

Hiring from the gig economy

In an era where resignations and layoffs are rampant, hiring from the gig economy is making financial and business sense to many organizations as it can be flexible, need-based, and agile. This can help organizations meet their talent requirement quickly to capitalize on upcoming opportunities.

The availability of part-time workers, contract-based employees, freelancers, and consultants who specialize in a particular domain or skill has compelled organizations to adopt a new approach to hiring and managing their staff. However, organizations must have a cybersecurity strategy in place when engaging with gig workers to address threats and protect its data and IP.

The gig economy also consists of bots or automated systems who work alongside humans, which means enterprises must manage their culture and work dynamics around human-machine interactions. It encourages a one-dimensional organizational structure, with emphasis on outcomes and leads to an innovative mindset.

Redefining the organizational culture and including change management

Unfortunately, the challenges to modernizing the workplace often lies in resistance from employees themselves who are used to certain practices and enjoy centers of powers that are hard to give up. One needs to demonstrate the value and relevance of modernization by creating a shift in people management and organizational culture through change management. Also, by redefining performance metrics and evaluation, and empowering employees so that they can drive their own success stories.

Modernization of workforce is a continuous process, and it is necessary to re-evaluate the workforce modernization strategy from time to time to adapt to the continuously evolving digital economy. In the long run, modernization creates employees who are not only skilled but ready to take on new challenges that works both for them and their organizations.

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Gautam Khanna is Vice President and Global Head for Modernization Practice at Infosys.