Anyone who’s even remotely plugged into how the workforce has evolved over the last half decade or so will have seen changes in not just the construction of the typical employee profile (i.e. more millennial workers than Gen X’s and Ys) , but also in work-life attitude.
For instance, just a few years ago, employers may have been concerned that employees’ personal lives could be a barrier to work productivity. However, a recent survey by renowned consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that over 71% of participating employees (primarily millennials) thought that it is now work that’s interfering “…with their personal lives”!
Such is the dramatic change in work-related sentiment and attitude that will be prevalent in the future workforce. So what else can employers expect in the years ahead?
Future Workforce: Evolving Tendencies
The typical worker of tomorrow is likely to be in their early to mid 20’s, and will therefore come with starkly different aspirations and attitudes than those exhibited by today’s average 50’s-something worker. Here are some tendencies that are evolving today, which will become part of tomorrow’s work environment:
1. Less Fixed…more Mobility
With the technology boom in full swing, the “connected worker” will be the norm, rather than an anomaly. More workers will be seen working on wireless, mobile devices than on wired desktop PCs.
Employers should therefore start thinking about moving their front and back office, as well as operational support systems onto the cloud (or related infrastructure). And along with that will come a slew of online security challenges, which employers must start addressing today!
2. Less hierarchical…more open
Most organizations today have a very hierarchical management structure in place. The workers of tomorrow will be working at near lightning speed, because of unprecedented amounts of data and information available to them. Hierarchical structures will not be able to keep pace in such environments.
We will see less command and control at the top, with more openness and democratization of work-related decision making. The only way that organizations will remain competitive is by pushing decision making down to the mobile worker – and out of the glass office and boardrooms! There is a tendency of moving away from hierarchical structures, into more communal organizations.
3. Less fragmented…more connected
The concept of departmentalization, compartmentalization and sectionalizing of corporate collaboration has lead to workers creating individual “fiefdoms”. This silo approach will be difficult to sustain in a connected world.
Expect to see workers collaborating in a less fragmented work environment, with cross-functional teams connected with each other and working in unison; as opposed to the information isolation, and specialty segregation that workers have to deal with today.
4. Less restriction…more access
The corporate world today works on a “need to know” basis, where designated decision makers are privy to specific information and data which helps them through the decision making process. That’s all set to change in the future workforce!
Since more and more decision-making will be pushed down to the grassroots levels of organizations, front line workers will need access to more information than ever, about their jobs, their competition, and their company. This evolution will lead organizations to embrace a “greater access for all” policy. The more restricted procedural organization will be replaced by a project-based company, which will enable new-age workers unparalleled access to the company’s resources.
5. Disparate sources…standardized platforms
In today’s work environment, many organizations have pretty much allowed employee collaboration and interaction to function through multiple formal and informal sources. For instance, while some employees may use open-source Instant Messaging systems to collaborate, others may use tools like Skype to conduct their day-to-day interactions.
This use of disparate sources will not be highly effective in tomorrow’s workplace. The evolution of collaborative and communication technologies will drive tomorrow’s workforce towards central, standardized platforms. For example, we’ll likely see a prevalence of organization-wide sources, such as Google’s and Amazon’s Cloud services, to foster workforce collaboration and communication. The focus is going to be on conversational collaboration, as opposed to mandated communications.
Today’s employees are characterized by their loyalty to the company; but tomorrow’s employees are unlikely to inherit that workplace trait.
- The future workforce will place loyalty to “self” above corporate allegiance
- Conversely, employers will likely not be willing to invest heavily in perks and loyalty benefits – except for a handful of “anchor employees” in their future workforces
- The new workforce will want greater flexibility in their schedules and career progression
- Many new-era workers will likely be willing to take pay cuts to get the “ideal” job (mobile, flexible, interesting)
- There will be a tendency to gravitate towards the “gig economy”, where employees just work several small part-time jobs; as opposed to economies driven by strictly defined employment roles (e.g. more reliance on contracts, one-time jobs etc.)
- Robotics and other cognitive technologies will force employers to rely more on AI than the intelligent (human) worker; which means tomorrow’s corporate workforces will be much smaller than those of today
- Job-growth will more likely come from start-ups and small ventures as opposed to large giant corporations. That’s because large organizations will find it hard to compete with competitors that employ a small, nimble techno-savvy workforce that are highly responsive to competitive forces
- There will likely be an end to reliance on “specialists”. The plethora of data, information and other online resources will mean that most workers will know “something about everything” in the company. A workforce relying on specialists will give way to a “generalists’” workplace – with specialists only called in on rare occasions
- The era of glass-offices and individual work spaces is likely drawing to an end. Crowd sourcing, job-sharing and work-space sharing will be an accepted norm. This will be embraced by organizations of all sizes, not just as a cost-cutting measure, but as a practical way to make their workforces more agile and more accessible
One of the hallmarks of today’s organizations is that the workplace is an ideal “social melting pot”, where employees meet regularly (i.e. “by the water cooler!”), converse with each other, and have social interactions. While the future workforce will be a “connected” one, it will have a “disconnect” with in-person social interactions. And there lies yet another challenge for employers of tomorrow’s workforce!
Are you seeing any other shifts in the workplace? Or, how are you preparing for some of the changes we just mentioned?