In the lead up to the Mobile World Congress in February, our experts are outlining four key trends regarding “The future of telco”. Last time, we disclosed why telcos must radically transform, creating new operating models for success. In Part 3, Mick Burn and Stanislava Stoyanova explain how this shift will affect HR strategy and why betting on people is essential for success.  

The fundamental shift in the telecoms industry from being communication service providers (CSPs) to becoming ecosystem orchestrators presents an interesting challenge to CHROs. It requires them to innovate and drive a future-fit HR strategy, acting as key enablers to successful business evolution and growth.

The ever-changing digital economy and unprecedented levels of disruption have made it imperative for telecom companies to transform. HR has a critical role to play here, empowering telcos to deliver the overall vision through people.

Empower growth through talented people

Recent Gartner research shows that the workforce is one of the Top 3 priorities for CEOs in 2023. In fact, 50% of HR leaders expect increased talent competition over the next six months and 46% anticipate attrition will remain high for in-demand roles in 2023.

The shift to becoming ecosystem orchestrators, the need to adopt an ‘AI first’ vision, and the drive to maximize B2B market potential have set new skills requirements for the future of telco. The industry is becoming increasingly attractive to top talent who would like to work for businesses that foster innovation and digital excellence. However, there is a shortage of talent and strong market competition for critical future skills and subject matter expertise.

This raises the bar higher for HR leaders to re-imagine the employee value proposition (EVP) and the end-to-end employee experience. They need to effectively find new ways to attract and retain talent and harness future skills, while helping facilitate business changes. As such, it’s essential for HR to evolve towards delivering advanced capabilities and enhanced AI-enabled digital experiences.

1. Human-centered employee value proposition

In the post-pandemic world of work, there’s been a strong shift towards ‘human-centered’ EVP and culture, and flexible working arrangements. People are now seeking to gain emotional value in their employment, which means to feel understood, cared for, invested in, empowered, and valued.

Alongside commitments for sustainability, net-zero ambitions, and aspirations for green operations, employees need to feel that the purpose of the organization they work for resonates with them. Telcos are uniquely challenged and positioned to focus on sustainable growth and minimize their carbon footprint. Digitization, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing are key to achieving these ambitions, and the industry has been making significant steps to reduce the impact on the environment.

In addition, the strong business focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion is allowing companies to harness the power of diverse talent and unleash creativity. For example, tackling the challenge of social mobility or providing reasonable adjustments to people with disabilities will expand talent pools and further strengthen the employer brand.

Such a strong value proposition can go a long way in retaining employees, thereby addressing some of the industry’s high attrition rates while also reducing the costs to recruit – key challenges impacting the bottom lines for most telcos today.

2. Employee experience and digital excellence in HR

In recent years, employee experience has been at the forefront of HR priorities and continues to be critical for winning the competition for talent.

For telecom companies, customer experience is at the heart of the business. As such, they utilize ongoing transformation activities which focus on truly personalizing the experience and leveraging AI insights in real-time to address fundamental needs. The same approach is to be consistently applied when re-imagining the employee experience and driving digital excellence in HR.

The three pillars of successful employee experience strategy are: Digital, emotional, and physical.

  • Digital: Digitizing workforce products to exceed employee expectations and improve productivity by utilizing human-centered design methodologies and best-in-class technology
  • Emotional: Placing employee listening at the core, gaining insights to provide employees with a meaningful purpose to work. Whilst, at the same time, actively promoting a cohesive emotional environment that considers mental health and wellbeing
  • Physical: Recognizing unique working styles and collaboration demands to promote productivity and innovation. And transforming office buildings to smart and connected environments primed for hybrid working

Providing efficient, seamless, and appealing experiences across the employee lifecycle and the significant employee moments are key differentiators from competitors.

3. Skills and capabilities for the future

To support the strategic business agenda for growth, HR leaders in the telecom industry have been building foundations to define critical future skills, assess potential gaps, and develop strategies to effectively address the talent shortages across new skills in demand.

The adoption of new AI-powered technologies has been a critical lever to accelerate the skills transformation, leverage both external and internal talent pools, and develop in-house future-fit skills and capabilities by re- and up-skilling the existing workforce.

AI-driven talent marketplaces help embrace agile talent mobility, breaking down barriers to internal moves and career progression. AI-assisted learning provides consumer-grade personalized learning experiences, while targeting organizational skills gaps. It also helps employees discover new learning opportunities that support career progression whilst helping build internal talent pipelines.

The in-house training capabilities, targeted talent pools, and ongoing lifelong learning opportunities optimize the re- and up-skilling process. As such, it saves money in the long-term and futureproofs both people and companies.

4. Smart AI can empower and complement frontline workers

Whether it’s a technician on their way to a customer or a call center rep dealing with a complaint, there are many factors that AI can help telcos track and streamline to improve employee wellbeing.

These smart tools use AI and machine learning to improve shift allocation, optimally determining who is needed when and for how long. This makes work flexible and fits into today’s desired hybrid working model, as well as adjusting staff misalignment in real-time. It can also identify what caused delays, helping telcos keep their customers promptly informed and implement required steps for improvement.

In addition, AI-based smart coaching can provide training pre- and post-work, creating daily and weekly team reports for training and recognition. Such systems have improved workforce management by 90%, reducing complaints and creating an agile and encouraging work environment.

The future of smart AI in the telco space is immense and has the potential to significantly enrich frontline workers and drive operational efficiencies for those that embrace emerging tech opportunities to the fullest.

Key takeaways

The telecoms industry is on a disruptive and creative growth trajectory, and CHROs have the leading role to empower the transformation by focusing on the following strategic areas:

  • Foster consumer-grade employee experience and well-being, and support diverse workforce
  • Become an employer of choice and magnet for critical talent
  • Ensure availability of future-fit skills and develop strong internal talent pools
  • Digitize HR and adopt agile ways of working
  • Facilitate change and help shape the right business operating model

We believe that the human element is the true differentiator for success. By drawing employees together to tackle problems in new ways, it’s possible to transform organizations from the inside out, creating tangible change for a more sustainable future. For more information, feel free to reach out to our experts!

Keep an eye out for the final installment of the series where we explore other ways the telecom industry can gain value from AI&A.


Read more from this series

Part 1 – Beyond connectivity: How communication service providers can monetize emerging B2B growth opportunities

Part 2 – The new telecom operating model: Limitless revenue growth opportunities

Part 4 – Getting value from AI&A in the telecom industry

Mick Burn

Mick Burn

Partner, Head of Talent and Organization EMEA

Stanislava Stoyanova

Stanislava Stoyanova


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