The trends shaping the future of work

The second article from last week’s Halogen Talent Summit on-The Future of Work: a gradireland masterclass in Managing the New Generation- discusses the trends that are shaping the future of work globally. Emma Birchall, Head of Research at the Future of Work Research Consortium at London-based Hot Spots Movement, discussed the impact which globalisation, a more connected workforce and longer lifespans will have on career models that have existed to date.

Best Internet Concept of global business from concepts series

As Emma’s research showed, the impact of technology on the workforce of today cannot be underestimated. It is crystallised by Moore’s Law, which when simplified states that the power of IT processing will double every two years. When we consider the leap from email to internet to virtual knowledge, the cloud, social media and robotisation has all happened within the last 25 years, the migration to a predominantly connected workforce of billions has meant a massive transition for both employers and employees. Emma explained that working with different colleagues across different time zones and locations, is now viewed as part of everyday business, and virtual collaboration is a day-to-day reality for many. As a result, management view collaborative skills as particularly important, with strong communication and diversity a key asset.

Globalisation has flattened the planet in many respects. A hugely mobile workforce now works in a 24/7 environment, heavily influenced by emerging markets and the increasingly prevalent effect of the Indian and Chinese economies. The sheer weight of the populations of these two countries is having a massive impact on the amount of graduates emerging from third level education, with the amount of students completing university education in India and China currently making up more than 25% of the global graduate population. In terms of educational facilities, Asia is raising its flag as home to centres of excellence, with, according to the presentation, five of the world’s top 50 universities located there, with Peking University in 46th place and Tokyo University in 27th place.

In terms of demographics, Emma explains that the good news is that people are living longer. Her presentation explained that at least 50% of babies born in 2007 are expected to live to more than 100. This continuing trend of longer life expectancy means that people will also be working for longer though, a fact exacerbated by the significant impact of a decline in voluntary pensions. Generation ‘Y’, which we discussed in the previous post, also has a huge part to play in the future of work, with this generation now expected to be the predominant age group in the workplace by 2020, surpassing Generation ‘X’, according to research on Labour Force Distribution within the United States.

The presentation then touched upon some of the themes which will likely become more important in the workplace as Generation ‘Y’ become increasingly dominant. Leadership is key, with resilience to the fore. The workplace of now and the near future demands transparency and activism from its leaders in dealing with a workforce which is empowered and more likely to think of their career in the short term.

Closing out her presentation, Emma said that some of the key questions for the future of the working world include; how will organisations adapt to new career models and the reality of a multi-generational workforce? How will organisations need to change their approach to talent management and what does the future look like for HR and leadership? She said it is important that organisations look at roles and responsibilities for their employees and how they will evolve, since the importance of participation is now a priority for workers. In a globalised world, successful organisations will need to balance the access to the global with the demands of the local and in terms of planning for the new workforce, the importance of coaching the next generation of leaders was reiterated.



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