Zoltan Vadkerti is a work-life expert, blogger and co-founder of the WorkLife HUB.
The trends can be grouped around the next segments: society and the individual, technology and innovation, business and economy, resources and environment, law and politics. Due to the vast scope of the future of work debate, in the next bullet points, we focus on those trends alone that we directly meet at the WorkLife HUB, hence can identify, through our work:
Due to the recent socio-economic trends (rising level of women’s labour market participation and purchasing power, longevity and demographic changes) and external factors (government lead initiatives, peer pressure, public opinion) businesses started looking into the ways through which they could expand their workforce planning and recruit, retain and promote more talent.
Furthermore, to connect with and benefit from a larger and more diverse talent pool organisations are researching generational needs and differences, kicking-off gender initiatives, finding out new ways for networking and attraction opportunities. Gender equality and diversity have featured in the CSR efforts of companies, however there are a number of studies, which look at the optimal use of labour in an economy and the extent to which gender discrimination is lowering the average productivity of labour available in the economy.
Desire for work-life balance
More and more people, organisations, companies, institutions across the Globe are increasingly and actively embracing ideas of creating a better work environment, improving the working and living conditions of employees, setting up flexible working policies or pioneering company level leave schemes. There are tectonic shifts deep under the surface at the policy level too. For instance, the European Council has just recently adopted a new directive to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working parents and carers.
It is the first time in the history of work that the workforce includes 5 generations in the workplace at the same time. Longevity impacts both ends of the age spectrum as older workers, still physically and mentally capable, and the younger generation, high-school and university students, get involved in the labour market.
With slowing fertility rates the succession of talent is problematic, coupled with high levels of labour migration, some countries and regions face dire labour shortages.
Across countries the fastest growing demographic at work are the 40+ workers with care responsibilities for elderly parents. In addition, compared to previous times, when workers retired at 62 and then died at 67, we are now facing with the current logic 20+ years to be spent in retirement. This involuntary inactivity is not chosen by many, difficult to manage financially and also has negative consequences on health. Therefore, a demand for flexibility is now driven not only by Millennials, but mainly by the pre-retirement age group.
Advancement of women in higher education and labour market participation
Women now make up the majority of tertiary education graduates, they want to work and to some extent need to work on the formal labour market. Therefore, there is an increase in dual-earner households, which means that the traditional arrangement of 1 breadwinner and 1 caregiver is disrupted. However, as women are still performing the bulk of caring and household work, the involvement of men in caring and household work, as well as the availability of quality childcare and elder-care services are key in creating the favourable environment for women to enter the labour market or returning after having had children.
Increasing care responsibilities of workers
In 2010, 5 million adults in England had caring responsibilities for a sick, disabled or elderly person. One in six carers gives up or cuts back work to care, with implications for their longer-term financial well-being and implications for employers in terms of the availability of skills.
Reduced costs of consumer goods
This has a very interesting impact on why people work. One of the impacts of exponential technology changes is the demonetization of services or goods. We either no longer pay, or we pay very little. In addition, the price of technology is also continuously being reduced, all the while their functionality increases. As an example, a cell phone today combines not only a number of different devices (camera, diary, calculator…), but they are getting cheaper, while getting more performant. These non-essential items are getting cheaper, which means that they are accessible by virtually everyone. Previously organisations would only have material incentives (bonuses, salary, company phone…) are now owned by everyone, and they also have their own personal freedom of choice in the matter. Therefore motivating the workforce with purely monetary incentives, such as bonuses are not efficient in the long-run. However, personal and quality services are getting more expensive (quality early childhood care, mental health services, preventive health services), and therefore these can act as very important levers in attracting and retaining talent, in particular for the highly specialised and skilled workforce.
Digitalisation and disruptive innovation
Digitalisation and disruptive innovation in virtually all sectors have a huge impact on the numbers of people employed and on the work they are expected to perform. No large organisation is safe from the disruptive startups that are biting away at their monopolies and challenging their products and services. These agile and nimble companies are growing fast, innovative, in addition embrace a very different work culture as employers from the large institutions, organisations. There are a lot more stringent selection processes, which mainly recruit for cultural fit and soft skills and then offer a lot more perks and benefits than their traditional counterparts.
You can now explore more about these key trends and their impact on the workforce from One Life - How the most forward-looking organisations leverage work-life integration to attract talent and foster employee wellbeing.