Is Your Company A Pacesetter?

During a time of business transformation, these seven key strategies differentiate top performing companies across industries.

The top performing companies in each major industry, dubbed “Pacesetters” by The Josh Bersin Company, invest in new skills, change management, employee support, and a culture of continuous growth.

The Josh Bersin Company uncovered the secrets of these highly adaptive companies by studying the skills, organization structures, and job models in thousands of companies.  Data for the analysis came from the human capital advisory firm’s Global Workforce Intelligence project, which uses employee profiles across more than a billion individuals.

top performing companies
(Source: Adobe Stock by kunakorn)


The first three industries the firm analyzed include healthcare, financial services, and consumer packaged goods. Despite their differences, the research discovered a common set of practices and principles that differentiate leaders across these industries.

“Fueled by AI, inflation, and the pandemic recovery, business transformation has accelerated,” said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company. “Our research discovered a handful of companies who outperform under these conditions and these Pacesetters, as we call them, are different. Rather than lay off workers or force people to become productive they invest in different ways.

“Pacesetters invest in skills development, change agility, culture, and leadership focus on change and individual growth,” Bersin continued. “The secrets we unlocked will help any company better adapt to the massive workforce, workplace, and industry changes ahead.”

“Pacesetters invest in skills development, change agility, culture, and leadership focus on change and individual growth.”

— Josh Bersin

Seven Key Pacesetter Traits And Behaviors

  1. Prioritize automation and self-service for front-office roles with strong support for IT and back-office technology, analytics, and automation.
    • Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) has 30% more people in IT Operations and 60% fewer staff in front-office functions
    • Pacesetter hospitals have significantly more IT and support staff so clinical professionals can focus
    • Pacesetter banks have far larger IT teams and smaller branch office teams.
  2. Prioritize technology and transformation roles at an equal level to operation roles.
    • In healthcare, Pacesetters have five times more web developers and 3.5 times more innovation managers—and five times fewer front-office managers
    • In Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center, cutting-edge technology solutions are tested out in a simulated environment before launch
    • BNY Mellon, Providence, and DBS use AI, talent intelligence, and advanced analytics at a far deeper level than their industry competitors.
  3. Invest in cutting-edge skills in technology, transformation, and consultative HR, and constantly experiment with new approaches.
    • In healthcare, Bon Secours Mercy provides a dedicated career pathway to develop digital skills and credentials for clinical professionals
    • The Bank of America Academy has transformed the bank’s consumer operations.
  4. Deeply value talent and prioritize mobility, retention, and reskilling to drive growth rather than depending on recruiting alone.
    • They reskill their existing workforce and match them with opportunities, e.g., how Bank of America uses a “capability academy” to hone required skills.
  5. Continuously redesign jobs and employment models to adapt for the future.
    • 40-50% of the massive 2.1 million nursing gap forecast by The Josh Bersin Company by 2025 can be closed by reducing the need for nurses, redesigning jobs, work, and employment models with new technologies, team-based work, and automation
    • Mercy Health uses a “Mercy Works on Demand” app so staff nurses can pivot to internal gig work positions to increase flexibility, and meet patient demands in an agile way.
  6. Implement a globally integrated, systemic HR operating model.
    • Every time a new job is open, these companies look at job design, pay, and internal mobility to make that role even more efficient
    • Providence, for example, uses a 4D approach to workforce transformation—deconstruction of work, diversifying sources of talent, deploying employees more efficiently, and digitization of work—fostering new ways of collaborating across the organization.
  7. Collaborate across the C-suite.
    • This includes being able to coordinate growth targets, market shifts, and patient needs, for a more integrated strategy for talent. Every dollar spent on IT is focused on advancing this strategy
    • The CHRO focuses on an HR operating model that continuously improves retention, engagement, leadership bench, and productivity; and the COO on process simplification, and so on
    • As an example, Dutch bank ING works across functional silos to create a more agile organization.

The seven strategies highlight that the most successful organizations make conscious, actionable choices around talent and operational structure that generate a culture comfortable with — and focused on — continuously transforming.

BNY Mellon is among the companies recognized as a Pacesetting organization through this research.

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“We take a digital-first approach to talent management at BNY Mellon, building an environment where employees drive their careers based on their preferences,” said Stuart Logan, Managing Director and Global Human Resources Business Partner of Engineering & People Experience at BNY Mellon. “By leveraging AI-based talent intelligence and other powerful technology, we’ve developed a platform that facilitates a much deeper understanding of our employees’ skills, competencies, and areas of interest, allowing us to better support their growth potential.”

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