Mercer | Navigate Workforce Shifts Through Data Analytics

Mercer | Navigate Workforce Shifts Through Data Analytics

Workforce Analytics & Planning

A workforce tsunami is approaching: How you can be prepared and manage workforce risks

We are facing exponential workforce shifts across the globe. These shifts can be conceptualized as the equivalent of a “tsunami” wave in terms of impact on how we manage our workforce. 

The world of work is being reshaped — transforming employee’s expectations for their careers, their approach to work, the nature of the work they do, and the makeup of the workforce itself. Be prepared and manage workforce risks by understanding these changes.


Five major shifts are occurring:

1. Growing diversity of workforce and customers.
2. Disruption through technology.
3. Rising swell of big data.
4. Stressed employees and productivity pressures.
5. Fragmentation of the workforce.

Shift 1: Growing diversity of workforce and customers

This goes far beyond the usual considerations of age, race, and gender, to consider diversity of location, education, and experience. A more holistic approach to diversity in the workplace is required, considering that:

In 2030, seven of the world’s biggest 12 economies will come from the emerging markets, compared to three currently, while two-thirds of college graduates will hail from emerging economies by 2021.

Companies that do a good job of hiring, promoting, and retaining women in their executive ranks outperform the industry median by 34% in revenues and 69% in equity. Yet women still make up less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 4% of ASX 200 CEOs, and 6% of FTSE100 CEOs. The gender pay gap continues to hover around the 20% mark.

In many advanced economies, the number of working-age people who cannot work as a result of poor health or disability exceeds the number of unemployed people, which means a greater proportion of the welfare burden on each person in employment.

If we also factor in the ageing population, Australia will have a dependency ratio of 36% by 2050, up from 20% in 2012.

The quality of jobs remains a concern, with 40% of the global workforce working informally (in the black market) and 46% of women being in what is classified as “vulnerable employment”, i.e. poor pay and conditions, no social protection.

Case study: Shift 1


The declining and ageing Quebecois workforce was having a negative impact on economic growth in the region. The local government partnered with France to mutually recognize professional qualifications and remove obstacles impeding the mobility of workers practicing regulated professions or trades in Canada. Quicker, easier access to regulated trades and professions facilitated and accelerated the recruitment of qualified workers as needed and enabled a more effective response to labor needs in both the manufacturing and service sectors in France and Quebec.

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