Let’s Talk Future Workforce
The world of work is changing rapidly. Automation and artificial intelligence is fast replacing traditional jobs and tasks. New skills are required as technology transforms the way we work and new roles are being created to replace those that have been lost. Many of the jobs of the future haven’t even been defined yet. We are working for longer and our workplaces increasingly have many generations of workers – creating a rich mix of skills knowledge and experience. People are retraining and changing professions throughout their lifetime.
We have different demands and ideas about what we want from work and we want greater flexibility and variety. Our psychological connections with work are changing and may differ from one person to the next, and may also change for an individual over time. The traditional employer/employee work relationship is being shaken up – with more people shifting to self-employment and the freelance or ‘gig’ economy. We are also better at understanding that work is not all about pay. Millennials are increasingly looking for a sense of mission and purpose at work. For our aging population who have time to spare, volunteering and unpaid work plays a huge part in our economy – work roles keep people active and keep people well.
The world is getting smaller and more accessible and we increasingly work with colleagues across continents and in different time zones. Digital technology brings us together. Employers now reach for talent from across the globe not just in their local employment markets.
Our future workforce is a big subject; it’s exciting but in many ways it’s unknown. To understand it is to recognise that we don’t have all the answers. In order to manage it, we need to maintain an open mind and be flexible and adaptable in our approach.
Why is this important for HR professionals?
As work requirements change, the skills we are looking for change and can lead to talent shortfalls – with a serious impact on organisational performance. Equally skills no longer needed can result in unemployment. Both have a major impact for workforce planning; succession; learning and development.
Where there are skills shortfalls, employers will need to work harder to attract and retain staff. Employees with valuable skills will have greater choice and employers will need to understand what employees from work in order to attract them. They will also have to live up to their promise to retain them.
Employees need to keep learning and developing their skills and behaviours for the future. They may need to change professions or roles over time and organisations need to support this, helping people to adapt and re-skill.
Job changes can result in uncertainty and anxiety. HR will need to continue to facilitate effective engagement with employees to shape understanding of work requirements, support staff in adapting and transforming the way they work.
The future of work will change as a result of:
- Technological changes – AI and automation transforming the workplace
- New jobs emerging as automation replaces old jobs
- Our aging population – people working for longer, creating a multi-generational workforce
- Changing social contracts – people wanting different things from work and having more say
- Globalisation – more movement of people and a greater reach for talent from further afield
- More flexibility and agility in the way work can be done
As HR Professionals we will need to help individuals and organisations to adapt by:
- Working closely with IT and business to understand the shifting trends
- Collaborating with governments and society at large in responding responsibly to changes
- Supporting individuals in life-long learning & the development of new skill acquisition
- Workforce planning and development of talent pipelines to address skills shortfalls
- Developing employer/employment propositions that appeal to future workers and help attract and retain workers
- Communicating and engaging with workers to share an understanding of motivations and concerns about changing
Back to Let’s Talk Themes page