What will the workforce of the future look like?

July 12, 2019

workforce of the future

In the era of automation, it’s natural for you to want to know what is in store for you in the future. Add the volatility of the current economic climate and gaps between unemployment and skill shortages, and you’ll find yourself wondering if the workforce of the future will be relevant and employable for incoming demands.

Disruptive forces of change are impacting 3 dimensions of work- the nature of work, where it happens and who (i.e. the workforce) will be doing it. Business leaders have realized that achieving high-maturity is linked to extracting value out of these changes.

Just as millennials are succeeding the baby boomers leaving the workforce, a time will come when generation Z in the workforce will make up the majority of the workplace composition.

Let’s look into what you’ll need to know beforehand when it comes to managing generation Z in the workplace.

1. Generation Z in the workplace: The workforce of 2030

Generation Z refer to those born between the years 1995-2010. Also known as the digitally-ready workforce, members of this generation are on the cusp of employment.

The working relationship between millennials and gen z will see the former managing the latter. They’re marked by their early introduction to technology, making it easier for them to adapt to the 4.0 Industrial Revolution.

On a professional front, the future of workforce will need employees who are unafraid of automation. After all, in a connected workplace where human capabilities are augmented by Artificial Intelligence applications, the relevance of skills potential rests on technical readiness.

Here are the factors that let you decide if your firm is ready to retain the interest levels of the next generation of employees;

A. Addressing talent gaps

A skills gap persists when there’s a shortage of critical skills on one hand, and high unemployment rates on the other. The problem isn’t a dearth in jobs, but a shift in the type of labor needed to drive future work.

Addressing talent gaps begin with promoting reskilling and upskilling from a learning perspective. Employers should work closely with the educational sector in this regard. Aspirants would then be able to acquaint themselves with the skills needed for technology sciences, creative thinking and automated processes.

The benefit of onboarding a future ready workforce applies to both the business and graduating class, equally.

For one, the cost to replace and train candidates get drastically slashed, since there already exists a level of working knowledge. And for another, what a new hire lacks in experience can be compensated by the considerably shorter time to master a new knowledge-area.

B. Automation in the workforce

Depending on the kind of usage it’s being put to, Artificial Intelligence can be further categorized into:

Assisted intelligence – The kind that simplifies your work for you. For example, a staff contract automatic renewal system.

Augmented intelligence – Intelligence that benefits businesses and end-users, such as a performance appraisal.

Autonomous intelligence – The machine runs itself with minimal human interference. For example, a data registry.

Automation in the workforce simplifies work by connecting project teams to processes and plans seamlessly. As such, employees are free to think and plan at a strategic level rather than have that time go into endless administrative and operational work.

Besides improving the ability to leverage core skills, skill shift automation and the future of the workforce will influence the need to acquire a different set of skills.

The McKinsey Global Institute’s skill shift study echoes this by pointing out that 2016-2030 will see the need for decision-making ability and socio-emotional skills picking up pace- considering how machines are a long way from mastering human sentiment!

C. Understand the contingent workforce

A contingent workforce comprises of different resource types, besides full-time staff. The freelance economy is not only proving to be cost-effective but is also enabling businesses to capitalize on different work perspectives.

Simply put, a workforce that’s flexible in shifts as well as experience would have acquired skills on the projects they took up previously. As such, they can think outside the box and ensure there isn’t a skills crunch when inflight projects are competing for resources.

Statista has estimated that freelancers will make up about 50% of the US workforce economy by 2027. This figure is indicative of the measures businesses would have to take to retain the workforce of the future by 2030.

For starters, remote work i.e the option to work out of a space conducive to workforce productivity would attract both millennials and gen z alike. For one, businesses would save relocation and costs to rent office spaces, while employees are left with more time to get work done rather than shuttle between their home and offices. Moreover, the flexibility lets both parties negotiate schedules and pay on the agreed deliverables.

While we’re on the subject of accommodating a gig workforce, let’s dive into more measures to prepare the workforce of the future!

2. Preparing the workforce of the future

preparing the workforce of the future

The key to removing uncertainties clouding the business landscape lies in the groundwork being done. And involving your workforce in the changes enable them to deliver, with effectiveness.

Here are a few ways by which the workforce of the future will remain a relevant force;

a. Plan the talent pipeline – Considering the fact that work itself will change, incoming demands would have to be gauged in order to scientifically size up your workforce capacity.

You can accordingly record the skills the business is falling short of, or has excesses of and restructure the workforce composition such that you have the right quality, and quantity of talent to fulfill the pipeline.

b. Keep track of resource profiles– A resource management software beats other tools by a long shot when it comes to knowing a project’s progress against the resources deployed to it.

It lets you track multiple bookings for critical skills against the assigned hours, ensuring no single resource is overloaded or benched despite being available and work-ready.

c. Repurpose roles – Roles would have to be redesigned bearing in mind the skills that are to be unbundled. In other words, niche capabilities would have to align with the organizational strategy.

Cognitive skills required to make critical decisions, absorb information and lead teams are where people will have the edge. Besides boosting team dynamics, good communicative ability will also facilitate a collaborative work environment.

d. Hire boomerang talent – Hiring employees who come out of retirement or return back to the workplace they were in previously comes with its own set of advantages.

Besides being digitally literate, boomerang employees bring diverse skills, more years of experiential expertise and can even expand professional connections to help narrow down the search for subsequent hiring drives.

Acceptance is the first step to managing change, which means knowing where you want to go, and the measures you’ll need to take to get there. While 37% of corporations fear automation replacing human labor, the truth is that this distribution differs according to the skill in question. While the demand for manual labor will gradually decline, the future of AI and automation in the workplace will involve transforming the labor market by enhancing human capabilities.

Are you ready to usher in the 4th industrial revolution and the impact it will have on the workforce of the future?

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