Opened-planned office spaces, hot desking, and 30 year-old CEOs with billions in the bank - today’s workplace is virtually unrecognisable from what it was a decade ago.
In recent years we have seen a surge of new technologies enter the workplace, such as cloud-based software, big data and artificial intelligence (AI), completely transformed our everyday working lives, and changing how we think and feel about work in general.
Another vital influencer of the modern workplace is the uncertainty of today’s political and economic environment. Our post-recession age has been dominated by rapid social and political change, compelling organisations to take a more hands-on approach towards risk management, talent management, and future planning.
These two factors are forcing organisations to adapt and take on a more agile and collaborative approach to their business in order to remain competitive.
But there’s another major factor that is redefining the modern workplace: the generational differences in people’s perception of work.
With five generations under one roof, each with their own vastly different views and expectations of what work and life in general is all about, the modern workforce is by no means homogenous.
Organisations cannot treat each of these generations as though they are the same; instead, organisations should acknowledge and embrace these often-opposing opinions towards work, recognition and reward in order to create a cohesive workforce.
Just think, in a decade’s time 30% of today’s workforce would have retired, meaning younger workers will occupy 70% of the workforce – so it is crucial that organisations cater to the needs of all workers, not just a selected few.
It is today’s multi-generational workforce, combined with the growing impact of digital disruption and geo-political uncertainty, that’s driving organisations to rethink their approaches to these three areas of interest:
Talent attraction and engagement.
Creating an enviable corporate culture that current and future employees will beg to buy into is no easy feat to master.
We live in a time where modern employees seek out companies with a purpose that aligns with their own personal objectives. Defining your company’s purpose and communicating that message to the world is now a talent management necessity.
While your vision, mission statement, principles and values highlight how your organisation should perceive and conduct itself, your company’s purpose should be built around who you’re trying to serve.
Rather than relying entirely on corporate messaging, organisations should encourage and inspire employees to deliver an excellent service, and share this impact with the world.
In this instance, actions truly do speak louder than words. Capture real life human stories about your customers or clients, and your company culture, and share these stories in a way that makes your target audience feel it.
Talent assessment and selection.
Recent advances in technology have introduced a wealth of new tools to the workplace, from cloud-software solutions to automation and analytics tools, enabling people to grow their capabilities and take on new skills.
And while experience with the latest technology is always going to be in high demand, nowadays, work-based skills have an average shelf life of only two and a half to five years.
Therefore, organisations need to be careful not to pigeonhole people based on their skillset or functional background; instead focus on finding individuals with a combination of adequate skills and, more importantly, the right mindset – these people will be more willing to adopt new technologies and working practices, such as fluid team structures.
It’s also worth defining what ‘talent’ looks like in your organisation’s eyes – what does great look like? What attributes drive productivity? Are you looking for agility, collaboration, communication, or all of the above? And consider how well the candidate will fit in with the team – and what mindset they will need to succeed in the role? These traits will play a pivotal role in the person’s later performance and success.
Talent development and retention.
Younger workers aren’t prone to following the beaten path – instead of making their way up the traditional corporate leadership path like their predecessors, millennial workers want the chance to prove themselves right for leadership from the outset.
To meet these shifting demands, organisations need to reexamine their existing business structures and consider how a team centric, fluid approach could operate.
We are seeing a number of organisations investing in flatter structures to accommodate the differing expectations and preferred working styles of all different generations, as well as to drive agile working. By allowing employees to work in more collaborative, self-governing groups to tackle projects and challenges, you can encourage leadership at all levels of your organisation, not just those that occupy a corner office (that’s assuming your company still has corner offices).
Another trend we are seeing is the replacement of annual performance reviews with continuous and frequent feedback. Modern workers take a ‘learn fast’ approach to learning and development, and they want to know where they stand within the organisation throughout the year.
When it comes to taking on new skills, it’s worth noting that modern workers often take a Googlisation approach to learning and development, having become accustomed to teaching themselves how to use new digital platforms by researching on Google, or watching tutorial videos on YouTube.
Organisations can encourage this approach by implementing project-based training and ongoing development based on the individual, as well as investing in mentoring programmes.
Building a culture that truly utilises the values and knowledge of your employee’s will help them feel happier and more valued, and subsequently, contribute to your organisation’s talent attraction, engagement and retention strategies.