The workforce of the future will look different than it does today. A new study finds that most EMEA companies are unprepared to address these changes. As revealed in Workforce 2020, a global survey of more than 5,400 executives and employees in 27 countries conducted by the independent research group Oxford Economics with support from SAP SE, most human resource (HR) organizations recognize the importance of managing an increasingly global, diverse and mobile workforce. But they lack the strategies and solutions to do so. The announcement was made at SuccessConnect Europe 2014, being held October 21-22 in Amsterdam.

Top Three Workforce Issues Facing EMEA Companies

The study’s findings challenge much of the prevailing wisdom and highlight the most critical issues facing HR professionals. Through interviews with more than 1,609 executives and 1,654 employees in companies across industries in the EMEA region, the study found that:

Compensation Matters Most

According to Workforce 2020, competitive compensation was the most important attribute of a job to just under two-thirds of respondents – with bonuses and merit-based rewards (57 percent), and supplemental training programs (42 percent) following closely behind.

If compensation is what motivates employees, what they are most afraid of is losing money as a result of insufficient skills, knowledge and keeping up with the latest technologies. “Becoming obsolete” is the most popular concern for today’s worker, twice as concerning as being laid off.

Millennials are Misunderstood

Although 54 percent of executives say millennials entering the workforce is a top business concern, there is a clear disconnect between the two — executives in EMEA are out of touch with what millennials think. Forty-six percent of executives think millennials are frustrated with manager quality, when actually only seven percent of millennials say they are.

While much has been written about how millennials are different in use of technology, social networks and attitudes toward work, Workforce 2020 shows that they are surprisingly similar to their non-millennial coworkers when it comes to workplace priorities:

  • Quality of life over career path is at the top for both groups, with 51 percent of millennials and 55 percent of non-millennials citing it as an “important” or “very important” benefit.
  • Both millennials and non-millennials like to frequently collaborate with colleagues in other areas of the company (46 percent/ 43 percent).

The Talent Gap is Widening

But few companies are supporting their newest workforce. Only 15 percent of employees say they have experienced the most professional development through formal training yet the need for skills like analytics and cloud will grow sizably over the next three years. It is expected that only 21 percent of employees expect proficiency in cloud in three years; and 46 percent expect to be proficient in analytics by then.

“When it comes to preparing for the future of work, knowledge is power, so companies are facing the need to re-imagine the role of learning and ensure the identification and readiness of future leaders,” said Mike Ettling, president, HR line of business at SuccessFactors, an SAP company. “Tomorrow’s workforce will be more diverse and work differently. Companies must understand this and develop new strategies to support how this workforce learns by supporting ongoing and collaborative learning and knowledge sharing, available on any device. Everyone will need to be a learner and everyone can be enabled to be a teacher with today’s tools and technology. And in this way, companies will also address the leadership gap identified.”

“Companies that prepare now for the workforce of the future should deliver better business results in the years ahead than their slower-moving rivals,” said Edward Cone, technology practice lead for Oxford Economics.

To learn more about the global results of Workforce 2020 and the future of work, visit