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Embracing the Evolving Workforce

Strategies for Employers to Thrive in the Changing Employee Landscape

Today's workforce has changed. Long tenured staff are disappearing and the gig economy is expanding 3x faster than the total US workforce. The next ten years will see even more significant changes: Upskilling and digital dexterity will outweigh tenure and experience, and many will search for work that has purpose, not just great pay.

For employers, what does this mean? It means employers must embrace change, learn to foster a more inclusive and collaborative culture, and prioritize upskilling. It also means that employers will need to find ways to integrate they 'why' of what they do as an organization into the everyday.

Here are some of the primary shifts that are taking place in the workforce:

  1. Longevity vs Gig Economy: historically employees have sought security and stability in their jobs, leading to a workforce characterized by loyal, long-tenured staff. Today's job seekers are looking for career growth, skill development, and flexible schedules. This has led to greater employee mobility and various career paths for today's workforce.

  2. Technological Advances: new careers are being created as fast as others are disappearing. Those entering a degree program today may find that what they learned in the first two years is obsolete by the time they graduate. Technology is driving job market changes that everyone is trying to keep up with, which will only speed up.

  3. Increased Project-Based Work: more companies are recognizing the value of assembling, then disbanding, groups brought together to focus on specific projects. It is more cost effective and allows companies to hire individuals with specialized skills that they may not have in-house.

  4. Market Dynamics: economic fluctuations have always existed; however, they seem to be more prevalent than before. Globalization and technological advancements have resulted in layoffs and restructuring, ultimately reducing job security.

To survive (and thrive) employers must embrace and learn to leverage this evolution. It is no longer a one-size-fits-all model, and employers who can embrace flexibility, emphasize upskilling, and foster inclusivity and collaboration will come out on top.

Flexible work arrangements are at the top of many job seekers' must-haves. This doesn't just mean the ability to work remotely - it also means the ability to work flexible hours or as a contractor/freelancer rather than a full-timer. Those in the gig economy are thriving as they acquire more skills faster than their full time counterparts and have access to opportunities across countries and industries. They also remain in control of who they work with and when they work. Employers who begin to focus more on outcomes and deliverables, rather than worrying about whether or not someone is at their desk by 9am, will be able to attract higher caliber candidates.

Upskilling has long been in play for many employers. It's often more beneficial to upskill existing staff than looking to fill from outside. This requires a shift to a learning-for-life mindset for employers; a willingness to embrace new ways of doing things. Not only does this provide growth opportunities for employees but it can often be a cost savings for the employers. Extended job vacancies can be closed faster through upskilling, and retention and engagement rates tend to climb for organizations embracing upskilling. Not to mention a great employer brand: like attracts like, and high performing candidates want to know a company is willing to invest in them.

Fostering inclusivity and collaboration is a matter of fairness, social responsibility, and a strategic business decision. Inclusive companies were found to be 60% more likely to outperform their peers in decision making. McKinsey reports that "employees who feel included within their organizations are about three times more likely than other peers to feel excited by and committed to organization missions..." Hiring diverse team members - those who think differently and have different values and personalities - can enhance team innovation by up to 20%. Inclusivity and collaboration is a bottom-line initiative that has proven ROI.

Integrating the 'why' is at the heart of creating a purpose-driven culture. It is about 'what' employees do daily along with 'why' and 'how' they do it. In a purpose-driven culture, employees have a heartfelt sense of ownership: they know who they serve, what they serve, and how to embody brand promises. When working with clients, I often discuss the importance of the 'how' in coaching performance; for example, should their work style be collaborative and consultative or should they be prepared to make decisions swiftly and quickly based on their own experience? How should they partner with clients: collaborative, consultative, advisory, or authoritative? Should they be competitive and results-driven when focusing on deliverables? Behaviors are equally crucial as tasks, and being specific on the why and how things are done drives an aligned and resilient team.

What will happen to those companies that don't adapt? They won't be able to continue to compete in their markets, will ultimately stagnate, and they will lose talent, plain and simple. Today's workforce demands a shift in organizational strategies, cultures, and practices, or you'll be left behind.


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