One of the things that really intrigues me and I love to hear other people’s thoughts and opinion about is ‘The Changing Workforce’. We all know that the demographics of the workforce are changing. A large number of Baby Boomers are retiring in the next few years and there is just not as many of us Gen X’ers around to take on those roles left open. The size of the Gen Y and Millenials population will soon see them being the largest percentage of the workforce in x number of years.
Besides the changing demographics of the workforce, there are also a number of other factors at play. The shift to a services economy combined with technological advancements is seeing traditional work barriers such as location and hours of operation crumble. Now it is possible to perform your role in any location where you have a strong enough wifi signal. The days of having to commute into the city to be in the office at 9 and leave at 5 are remnants of a different view of the of employer/employee relationship.
Another change which I see happening on both the employer and employee side is the change in the views of work. We have seen union membership consistently decline as the work changes, but on a broader scale both companies and employees no longer want to be held to the constraints of an outdated workforce. It used to be that a person would work 20 years with one company or even spend their career with one company, this was common place and the goal of many people 1-2 generations ago – Find a company to work at, get a steady pay check and rinse and repeat. In today’s workforce, skilled employees are looking to associate themselves with roles and companies that help them achieve their own goals that are often not just monetary. For example some people want to continue to develop their skills and capabilities and may last 2-3 years at a company before moving on. Some people may be drawn to others who share the same workplace values as them. There no longer is one clear cut way to develop your career and this is accepted now, it is no longer seen as detrimental to move every 3 years as it once was as long as you make an impact in your role. Now more than ever employees are taking the opportunity to move their careers in a variety of directions. Employees will stay at a company when it aligns with their goals and needs, when that alignment disappears we see movement in the workforce.
The casualisation of the workforce creates more opportunities for those who seek those opportunities. The false sense of security that a ‘job for life’ once gave no longer prevails. I think this is a good thing. Staying fresh, staying challenged and continuing to grow (either skill based growth or your own personal growth) is a good thing. I think we will see many more people working for themselves in the future and see far more work assignments being project based assignments as opposed to on-going roles.
I look at my kids and wonder what their work world will look like in 10-20 years. I am actually quite excited at the prospects and opportunities I think they will have. The workforce will continue to change at a fast pace and I think that those who embrace change will be able to adapt and grow while those who try to deny any change is happening or do not accept change will struggle in the new work economy.