Regional differences in our Workforce 2020 surveys

While the story told by the global results of our survey is clear—companies everywhere are struggling to plan effectively for the workforce of the future—there are important differences at the regional and country levels.

One key difference is in the high-level visibility of people planning. Workforce issues drive strategy at the board level in 70% of firms in Asia Pacific, but only 35% of North American firms. As shown below, responsibility for workforce strategy also varies by region: In North America and Latin America, the COO or CHRO is most likely to have primary responsibility for driving workforce strategy; in Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific, the CIO is also likely to have this responsibility.


Respondents from different regions also have different priorities and concerns about key issues. For example, 57% of Asia Pacific executives say Millennials entering the workforce are a top concern, but only 36% in North America say so (a divergence explained by the epic generational shifts in lifestyle and economic opportunity that are transforming large swaths of Asia). What’s more, perceptions of Millennials also vary greatly by country. Nearly three-quarters of Japanese executives say Millennials are interested in quality of life over career path, while under one-third of Mexican executives say this is true.

You can read about more the regional variations in our research report and think pieces to follow. You can also attend our webinars, which we’ll update you on here over the next few months.


Millennials are different, but not as different as companies think

Executives are concerned about Millennials entering the workforce, yet they aren’t making any special plans for managing them. Although 51% of executives say Millennials entering the workforce significantly affects workforce strategy, fewer than one-third of executives say they are giving special attention to their particular wants and needs.

And perhaps they don’t need to: There are many myths about what Millennials want most from work—which is not so different from what non-Millennials want.

Millennial myths Oct 6

But while Millennials have many of the same wants and needs at work as their older coworkers, they do need be managed differently, in terms of feedback and development. Nearly one-third of Millennials say they expect more feedback on their performance than they currently receive—and they want it more often than non-Millennials.

You can read more about Millennials in our research report, and this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Managing tomorrow’s workforce

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the broad agreement among employees and executives that leadership is lacking, and the ways this dearth of leadership ability is impeding progress toward business goals.

Leadership October 3

As the chart above shows, just half of executives say leadership at their companies is able to effectively manage talent, and even fewer are prepared to lead a global or diverse workforce—a challenge that will become increasingly important as globalization and a growing number of contingent employees change the nature of work. Companies without talent to manage workforces across continents, in and out of the office, and on and off the payroll will miss out on the growth opportunities realized by those who are ready for these shifts.

Check out this recent Forbes article by Susan Galer, which expands on our research findings and notes that the survey results should be a catalyst for change among companies looking to address tomorrow’s talent needs.

Join us today for a webinar on the future of work

Today at 1 pm ET/10 am PT, join Ed Cone of Oxford Economics, Anne Dacy of IBM, and David Swanson of SAP for a discussion around the future of work.

We’ll be talking about our research findings and focusing on how the survey results are different for executives and employees in North America. Listen in to learn about:

  • The increasing role of contingent, non-payroll employees
  • Gaps in knowledge and resources for managing tomorrow’s diverse workforce
  • An urgent need for HR-specific analytic tools, skillsets, and data
  • Insufficient board-level understanding of strategic workforce issues

Click here to register for the webinar.