Organizations Are Not Ready to Scale Their Workforces to Drive Digital Transformation, Aon Study Finds

LONDON, 14 May, 2020 – The digital future will require a new set of skills, behaviors and ways of working, but most organizations have not defined the critical competencies needed to compete in an age of disruption and do not have a process in place to assess digital readiness in their own people, a new Aon study finds. Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, shared insights from 1,551 senior business executives, HR leaders and employees around the world in its 2020 Digital Readiness Report, available here.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 51% of respondents agreed that their organization has executed/is executing an effective digital strategy across the entire firm.
  • 41% of respondents agreed that their organization knows how to identify individuals with digital potential.
  • 43% of respondents said their organizations plan to use contingent workers as part of their future talent strategy.
  • Only 11% of respondents strongly agreed that their rewards structures promote organizational agility.

Additionally, an Aon pulse survey shows that since COVID-19, 84% of organizations are exploring different working models, 53% are accelerating the use of virtual recruiting and onboarding tools and 55% are focusing on increasing workforce agility and internal mobility, whereas only 49% are accelerating their digital transformation agenda. The survey of 1,889 organizations globally was published on April 15, 2020.

“For HR leaders, the continuous state of disruption caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution – and now COVID-19 - will require a new, more flexible approach to workforce planning and development,” said John Mclaughlin, Commercial Director for Aon’s Assessment Solutions. “To thrive in this continuously disrupted future, employers will need to transform their approach to people, jobs and rewards at the individual, team and organizational levels for constant adaptation.”

Aon's 2020 Digital Readiness Report revealed five key insights:

  • Developing and executing an effective digital strategy remains a challenge for many organizations. Most respondents reported that their organizations had made significant progress toward executing an effective digital strategy, including placing digital leaders in critical roles. Confidence in digital leadership varied by region, with North American (76%) and European (65%) respondents being more likely than companies in Asia Pacific and Middle East (58%) to report having the right people in digital leadership roles.
  • HR professionals were less confident in their organization's digital readiness than people in other roles. HR professionals (47%) were less likely than their IT counterparts (71%) to express confidence that their organization was executing an effective digital strategy across the entire firm and that digital leaders were in the right roles (63% vs. 83%, respectively). HR professionals, along with legal (both 37%), were the least likely to agree that their strategic plan incorporated contingent technology workers.
  • Globally, many organizations need to improve how they support their virtual teams, but there are notable differences by industry and region. The degree of flexibility varied by industry with respondents at technology and telecom companies (67%) being significantly more likely to report their teams work flexibly than respondents from finance (46%) and transportation and logistics companies (39%). North American respondents (71%) were the most likely to report being well-prepared to work in a virtual environment.
  • Most organizations have not defined the critical competencies they will need in the future, nor have they established a process to assess for them. Only 41% said their organizations knew how to identify digital talent, and 44% said their hiring process included a digital experience for candidates.
  • Most organizations are not maximizing the potential of their internal talent. Slightly more than half agreed that identifying and developing internal talent with high potential was part of their digital strategy. Respondents at retail and consumer goods organizations were the most likely to agree that internal talent was a priority (61%).
  • Most organizations' rewards programs are not designed to attract and retain digital talent. Only 34% agreed that their rewards program helped attract and retain digitally ready talent. Looking across industries, media professionals (42%) were the most confident that their organization's rewards program supported digital talent. The public sector, non-profit, and education had the fewest people express confidence that their organization had a digital-ready rewards strategy (22%).

“Digital transformation changes the agenda of HR leaders,” said McLaughlin. “A flexible workforce depends on HR empowering employees to make the best of their careers within the organization.

“Without the traditional career ladder to anchor raises to, organizations will need to find new ways to measure and anticipate which employees are going to have the biggest impact on business performance and what kinds of rewards they will value most. Organizations will need to adopt a more rigorous, data-driven approach to optimize and align a rewards program to business objectives, market data and the needs of the workforce.”


Aon’s Assessment Solutions is part of Aon’s global Human Capital business, helping clients achieve sustainable growth by driving business performance through people performance. Aon’s Assessment Solutions undertakes 30 million assessments each year in 90 countries and 40 languages.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.

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Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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