Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Future is Here, Are We Ready?

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Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” Change is all around us, impacting every aspect of business from our workforce and our technologies, to the world in which we work.
When I first joined the workforce a few decades ago, I was surprised by the number of people I met who had over 30 years of service with the same organization. They worked traditional business hours and then left the office (and their work) behind to return home to their families.

Today, statistics show that younger workers have an average tenure of only 3 years of service. And the traditional workday has given way to a world of 24/7 global connectivity where “the barriers between work and life have all but been eliminated.”
The makeup of our workforce is also changing. A 2012 Economic Intelligence Unit Study shows that by the year 2030, 50% of the workforce will be made up of contingent workers (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors, temporary workers).

Today, Millennials make up over half of our workforce and they have vastly different expectations than the previous generations. This changing workforce is on the receiving end of the shift in the balance of power. With all the transparency brought about by LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other social media, employees have greater control over navigating their careers and fulfilling their goals of finding flexibility and purpose in life.

Not only is the workforce changing, but so is the overall job market. Some jobs are going away, while new jobs are on the horizon. According to a US Department of Labor report, “65% of today’s students will be in jobs that don’t yet exist.” Already, we have seen a proliferation of jobs that didn’t exist even 10 years ago, such as App Developer, Chief Listening Officer, Data Scientist, or Cloud Engineer. Are we ready for some of the new jobs that Fast Company predicts will be in place by 2025? Where will “Corporate Disorganizers” or “Digital Detox Specialists” fit into our future organizations?

These are just a few examples of how the world of work is changing. The question is: are we ready for all the changes that are coming at us at an ever-increasing pace? According to Stephen Hawking, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” So, how can we become more intelligent as business leaders and learn how to adapt to change?

It’s not enough to simply be aware of the trends. We need to take a more active role to understand these changes, prepare for their impacts, and in some cases, reinvent our organizations to get ahead of them.
Just as the floppy disc has given way to new cloud storage solutions, so too must our organizations evolve to meet the needs of our changing workforce. We should take a good hard look at our organizational structures, systems, and processes to make sure we are preparing for the future, versus perpetuating what might have worked in the past.

For example, how will we recruit, attract and retain employees in a world where ‘job hopping’ is the new normal? How will we modify annual performance review processes to meet the immediate feedback needs of the new generations? How will we manage all the information that is available to us without being crushed by its sheer volume and complexity? How will we leverage new technologies to train our workforce for skills that don’t yet exist? And how will we develop our future leaders in a world where the pace of change is more rapid than at any other time in history?

Even among these challenges, according to the Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, Deloitte researchers found that the number one challenge facing business leaders in this “new world of work” is culture and engagement, (with 87% of organizations citing it as one of their top business challenges). “An organization’s culture—which can be loosely defined as “the way things work around here”—is increasingly visible for all the world to see.” How will our leaders create cultures that drive employee engagement in this age of changing expectations and increased transparency?

These are just some examples of the challenges that organizations are facing as the world around us changes. While this list of changes and challenges may seem daunting, as with many things in life, it’s less about what is happening, but more about how we approach and react to it.

The single most important thing we can do is have a mindset that welcomes and embraces change. Having a competency for getting ahead of change and managing it effectively will continue to be a source of competitive advantage. Arguably, those who view change as an opportunity will be the ones who succeed in this ever-changing world.

As Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”

Change is here to stay. Are we ready?

 

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/tenure_09182014.htm

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press

[1] http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman/reports/futurework/report.htm

[1] http://www.fastcoexist.com/3015652/futurist-forum/8-new-jobs-people-will-have-in-2025