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Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking

THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HERE: RETHINKING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

2019-05-01 11:40

Cathryn Barnard

Blog, FUTURE OF WORK CONSULTING, RECRUITMENT, FUTURE OF RECRUITMENT,

THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HERE: RETHINKING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

’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...

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We’ve been analysing the convergent trends transforming the way 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 the game-changing transformations that will alter the entire fabric of how we work to another 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 exist yet. 


And yet the future of work is now


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


Let’s add some context. In 2017, KPMG published a report showing that the average tenure for a millennial is now three years. Randstad, the global Human Capital consulting firm, has calculated the average cost of replacing a ’professional’ level employee who resigns at GBP£30,500. This figure encompasses not only recruitment and induction costs, but also the cost of getting a new hire up to speed. The productivity cost of ’disengagement’ isn’t quantified and yet newly published research by Peakon, a platform that measures employee engagement, suggests that employees are typically disengaged for NINE months before taking the leap and moving on. 


In spite of all the talk about millennials at work in recent years, there’s still significant disconnect between what younger workers say they want from their workplaces and what employers are offering up. This problem is only set to exacerbate - PWC has reported that this demographic will constitute 50% of the global workforce by 2020, and the Centennial generation is also now hot on its heels. Unlike previous generations, younger people are far less tolerant of outdated practices, tools, and bluntly disconnected ways of doing and being in the workplace. If the average tenure of a worker is currently three years, unless the messaging behind the wave of disruptive and transformative automation technologies about to hit the commercial landscape is authentic and people-centric, we can only imagine that the retention challenge will worsen for employers. 


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


By taking time to listen to the individual aspirations of each contributor within the eco-system, people feel connected, aligned, and safe enough to innovate in a way that wholly improves the end experience. By default, these organisations also succeed in overcoming retention issues as they’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 to think creatively when approaching complex problem-solving.  
Recruitment also becomes much easier, as younger workers love to share the details of the great places where they work. 


In 2017, Quartz ran an article that examined the timeline of the future of work. It seems the future of work went mainstream as a topic in 2016, with a subject previously only discussed by a minority few suddenly going viral across the mediasphere. That the future of work conversation is expanding is positive; we can’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 about the ’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 the first instance, are already confounding even the most seasoned CEO. The sooner we admit the future of work is already with us, the better.

 

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Looking to dive deeper into some of the areas covered in this blog post? Check out our Recruitment and Retention and Foresight Focus reports and products.

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