When you think about the future of work, what comes to mind? Do you picture a room full of robots typing away at computers? (Actually, that sounds redundant when you consider the fact that computers are a form of robotics, but I digress.) Regardless of what you imagine the future of work will look like, one thing is certain: The future is here!
A few years ago, we kept hearing that Millennials would make up 75% of the workforce by 2020, and looking back, that seemed to be the most pressing concern for employers that were planning for the future of work. Little did we know that Millennials would be the least of our problems.
Now, employers must juggle the diverse needs of a multigenerational workforce—one that includes not only Millennials but also Generation Z—while trying to stay ahead of their competition, recruit and retain talent amid a growing skills gap, and learn how to embrace the constant change that is crippling industries across the nation.
If employers are looking to get (and stay) ahead, they must adapt to the constant change and be prepared to accommodate new strategies to be successful in the future. This is the main takeaway from a new Ceridian report that uncovers what the future of work looks like.
According to Ceridian’s “The 2020 Future of Work Report,” many employers are failing to embrace change and are therefore getting left behind. Instead of blaming technological advances for workplace disruption, organizations need to be effectively using these technologies to get ahead.
Stop Looking at Technology as a Disrupter
“The perceived disruption [caused by new technology], not the opportunity for transformation, is causing companies to proceed with caution instead of seizing the future by the reins,” finds the report. Not only will technology help improve your employees’ productivity, but it’ll also help attract tech-savvy workers to your company.
Additionally, when you start embracing technology, you’ll be able to start solving other issues your company may face. For instance, the growing skills gap continues to plague employers, but this issue could best be resolved by implementing technology to help train and upskill your existing workforce.
According to Ceridian’s findings, “[O]rganizations are beginning to embrace technology for greater organizational efficiency, and recognize human-machine collaboration can lead to smarter and more strategic decision-making and better performance.”
Companies that adjust their mind-sets when it comes to technology will have better success in the future of work. “Tech development is a struggle, but also an opportunity. It’s unfortunate that it’s perceived as negative because it’s also an enabler,” says Constellation Research VP and principal analyst Holger Mueller in the report. “Technology improvements and advances can fuel productivity and wealth. Rapid tech deployment is an awesome opportunity.”
Partner with Learning Institutions to Reduce the Skills Gap
As mentioned above, the growing skills gap continues to be a burden on employers that are looking to recruit new workers and retain current ones who may be falling behind in their skill sets.
One Deloitte report found that “the half-life of skill sets will decrease to five years in the future of work.” Ceridian explains this further: “Throughout a 30-year career, an individual would have to update and refresh their skills six times”! Additionally, The World Economic Forum discovered that “65% of children now entering primary school will hold jobs that currently don’t exist.”
You may be questioning how these students will learn the appropriate skills required to work in the future, and that’s where you, as an employer, come into play—but more on that in a minute.
Ceridian also found that many companies believe that job skill requirements will change in the next 2 years. Ceridian says that “most [companies] will automate certain job functions (81%), and the need for more employees with technical skills (80%)” will also become increasingly more important in the future. “These changes will require HR and business leaders to work even more collaboratively to ensure the right experiences, education, and expectations are in place for people and leadership alike,” the report says.
While employers may be actively working to train and upskill their current workforce, Ceridian says many companies are missing out on a great opportunity to close the skills gap: partnering with learning institutions to help train children on the skills they’ll need for success later in life.
According to Ceridian’s Chief People and Culture Officer, Lisa Sterling, “Partnerships with organizations and educational entities could be a key driver in addressing skills gaps before they occur. It requires a significant rethinking by HR.”
“These partnerships should start well before individuals enter their last few years of university,” Sterling adds. “We have an untapped market opportunity to build partnerships with high schools and universities. If leveraged, we can provide education that assists future workers in determining potential career paths and the necessary skills to success, and provide insight into our organizational needs.”
Cater to Your Multigenerational Workforce’s Needs
The multigenerational workforce doesn’t just consist of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials anymore; now, employers must accommodate the emerging Gen Z workforce, as well. Some employers may say that meeting the diverse needs of four different generations is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Many companies are thinking about this challenge in terms of generational stereotypes, including the idea that there’s a wide gap between digital natives and their older analogue counterparts,” says Ceridian. But, if you shift your frame of mind to a more personalized approach, you’ll be able to accommodate workers of all ages.
Employers’ new “focus should be less on perceived generational differences, and more on life stages and personalizing the employee experience,” says Sterling. “Classifying employees by generations actually reinforces siloes and stereotypes.” If you think you can get away with diversity and inclusion training to combat these problems, think again.
“Diversity and inclusion training has nothing to do with workforce generation issues,” says Sterling. “Anyone aiming to solve a multi-generational workforce issue by implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives is doing it for the wrong reasons. Building an inclusive culture goes far beyond addressing generational differences.”
To cater to your multigen needs, you must be focused on where these workers are in their lives. For example, does your paid-time-off (PTO) policy cover time off for childcare needs and adult caregiving needs? If you’re catering to Millennials’ need to care for their children but not Gen Xers’ need to care for their aging parents, your PTO policy will cause a rift among workers.
Additionally, Gen Z is just now graduating from college, and most of these green workers may not even have children yet, so how would such policies benefit them? Would you allow a Gen Z worker to take time off to go to a class to help him or her obtain a graduate degree? If your policies and benefits only cater to one generation over another, you’re unknowingly causing a divide that shows workers you only care about one specific group.
“We should be focused on meeting people where they’re at in their lives, not ‘how to deal with the multi-generational workforce,’” says Sterling. “Whether it’s providing an awesome parental leave program, or awesome compassionate care program, all people want the same trust, power, and respect. What they need might be different, depending on their stage of life. This is not specifically related to their age.”
Looking Even Farther Ahead
With 2020 right around the corner, it makes us question what the next decade will have in store. Will robots officially take over human roles? Doubtful, but for some industries, this is inevitable! The only way to survive is to be open to new ideas and strategies. Embrace the change that’s currently disrupting the way we work, and be mindful of what the future may hold.
When looking ahead, Ceridian offers this advice: Employers must adopt “a strategy that is transformational, not simply reactive. It needs an approach to managing people that is holistic, not siloed, and a mindset about technology that is inclusive, not fearful.”