The world of work, nine years from now
Some days ago while I was preparing a speech for a conference, it occurred to me that I have experienced radical changes not only in my professional career but also in my work environment. What’s odd is that sometime later, by accident I came across a very interesting survey by Manpower, an international job seeker company, which had commissioned a report in February 2006 examining how employers and workers anticipate the world of work will change in the next 10 years. The report is based on independent research into 2,122 United Kingdom businesses conducted by National Opinion Polls (NOP), with separate research of 1,085 workers by Manpower.
The report reveals significant insights into the opinions of employers and employees on the workplace of the future and in particular, very different expectations of the direction of future employment practice.
Thus, the report shows that by 2016:
* 81% of employees do not expect to work beyond the age of 65, but a majority (52%) of employers want them to do so
* a clear majority of employers expect to measure their staff on productivity (68%) and for those staff to develop more skills (72%), but only a minority of employees believe this will be the case (22% and 49%, respectively;)
* the vast majority of employers think that IT will have a great impact on work (84%), compared with less than half of workers (43%)
* working from home will not significantly increase because of lack of demand from employers and employees (25% and 15%, respectively)
* workers want to work flexibly (63%) and employers recognize this as a significant benefit in terms of retention (84%);
* employers believe more men will stay at home to bring up the family (41%) and women will continue to break through the glass ceiling, playing an increasingly important role in management (83%).
The workplace a decade from now will have changed noticeably. IT will play a greater role. Generally the workforce will be older; people will have developed more skills; there will be an increased focus on productivity. Flexibility will increasingly be the norm. Women will take more management positions; men will play a larger role in raising children. So, the world of work is changing.
We can already see average organizations facing a range of people issues such as identifying the skills they need to succeed in the future; developing the right recruitment and retention programs at every level of an organization; identifying the training needs of a workforce; looking outside a traditional labour pool to consider a truly diverse workforce including older workers and those from overseas; managing downsizing; and considering how best to outsource or ‘offshore’ their operation.
Changing demographics–an ageing population and a declining birth rate–mean that the workforce is shrinking and will continue to do so, making finding people with the right skills more difficult. However, for those people with the right skills or who are willing to reskill, the opportunities are many and varied.
It will be the responsibility of employers, employees and governments to address the issues of education, training and skills development to equip people to succeed in the workplace of the future. It will be particularly important for both employers and employees to recognize these changes and to be flexible in their approach to the needs of each other. It is vital for the employers and employees identified in this research to work out their expectations if they are to move forward into the future successfully, productively and competitively.
Jaquelina Jimena is a business journalist and advisor in CSR issues, based in Mendoza, Argentina, and can be reached at [email protected]