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Working the Future

Our future of work blog 

01/05/2019, 11:40


 ’Future’ implies somewhere further out on the horizon, and not therefore a problem for today. The here and now is already too complex, uncertain and often overwhelming to even consider something that doesn’t exist yet. Yet the future of work is now.

We’ve been analysing the convergent trends transforming theway we work for the last three years now, and we think we’ve hit a roadblock. 

We think it’s a problem of semantics. When we talk about the’future of work’, we think we give permission to defer addressing thegame-changing transformations that will alter the entire fabric of how we work toanother day and time. ’Future’ implies somewhere further out on the horizon,and not therefore a problem for today. The here and now is already too complex,uncertain and often overwhelming to even consider something that doesn’t existyet. 

And yet the future of work is now

When we have conversations with CEOs, one of the most commonchallenges business owners share with us has to do with staff recruitment and retention.  

Let’s add some context.In 2017, KPMGpublished a report showing that the average tenure for a millennial is now threeyears. Randstad, the global Human Capital consulting firm, hascalculated the average cost of replacing a ’professional’ level employeewho resigns at GBP£30,500. This figure encompasses not only recruitment andinduction costs, but also the cost of getting a new hire up to speed. Theproductivity cost of ’disengagement’ isn’t quantified and yet newlypublished research by Peakon, a platform that measures employee engagement,suggests that employees are typically disengaged for NINE months before takingthe leap and moving on. 

In spite of all the talk about millennials at work in recentyears, there’s still significant disconnect between what younger workers saythey want from their workplaces and what employers are offering up. Thisproblem is only set to exacerbate - PWChas reported that this demographic will constitute 50% of the globalworkforce by 2020, and the Centennial generation is also now hot on its heels.Unlike previous generations, younger people are far less tolerant of outdatedpractices, tools, and bluntly disconnected ways of doing and being in theworkplace. If the average tenure of a worker is currently three years, unlessthe messaging behind the wave of disruptive and transformative automationtechnologies about to hit the commercial landscape is authentic andpeople-centric, we can only imagine that the retention challenge will worsen foremployers. 

Forward-thinking CEOs, those with a long-term game plan andwho want to leave a positive mark on the world, are already working tofuture-proof their organisations by evolving towards the creation of 21stCentury talent eco-systems. They do this by clearly defining their values,vision and organisational purpose, and by placing deliberate focus on apeople-first culture. 

By taking time to listen to the individual aspirations ofeach contributor within the eco-system, people feel connected, aligned, andsafe enough to innovate in a way that wholly improves the end experience. Bydefault, these organisations also succeed in overcoming retention issues asthey’re focused on and committed to building eco-systems in which all workers,regardless of employment status, feel a sense of belonging that enables them tothink creatively when approaching complex problem-solving.  

Recruitment also becomes much easier, as youngerworkers love to share the details of the great places where they work. 

In 2017, Quartzran an article that examined the timeline of the future of work. It seemsthe future of work went mainstream as a topic in 2016, with a subjectpreviously only discussed by a minority few suddenly going viral across themediasphere. That the future of work conversation is expanding is positive; wecan’t over-discuss a topic that will inevitably impact all of us, our children,and our children’s’ children. 

The challenge, however, is that for as long as we talk aboutthe ’future’ of work, it’s always far off and intangible. But its headwinds,the increasing churn of staff, or worse, the inability to attract them in thefirst instance, are already confounding even the most seasoned CEO. The soonerwe admit the future of work is already with us, the better.

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