November 12, 2019

The future of work is here. Are you ready for it?

Ceridian’s new 2020 Future of Work report reveals how decision-makers view the changing world of work, and what they’re doing to prepare for the next decade. Here, Chief People and Culture Officer Lisa Sterling discusses the key findings, and challenges leaders to take action.

The very nature of work is continuing to evolve and change. How we define it, how we do it and from where are no longer static for any given period of time. The philosophy work is what you do not where you go is becoming more accepted than ever before.

As we have been hearing for some time now, there are essentially five generations in the workforce. Unemployment is at a record low. People no longer expect a traditional work day at a traditional office. Rapid innovation and adoption of technology – including AI and machine learning – is changing the composition of the modern workforce. And alternative work arrangements – gig work, freelance, and crowdsourced opportunities – are increasingly becoming part of the fabric of companies. As organizations adjust, they’re attempting to redefine what it means to be an employee. But is that even enough? Do we need to change our mindset beyond the definition of the classification of “employee”? The answer is yes.

As Ceridian’s Chief People and Culture Officer, (a.k.a. Culture Crusader) these factors and the impact they are and will continue to have on the workplace are top of mind, all the time. We refer to them as ‘Global Stressors,’ and have aligned them into five categories: adoption of disruptive technologies, the expertise gap for future work (commonly known as the skills gap), multi-gen workforce demands, global competition for talent, and regulatory and compliance complexities.

This combination of factors is propelling organizations towards seismic and uncertain change, with technology as a central driving force.

So the question remains, what is to be made of these emerging trends? We see a new list of trends every year and for a good majority of us, nothing changes. We don’t respond in the way we think, feel, or act. We simply take it all in and stay the current course.

We, as leaders, have an obligation to broaden our organizational mindset. To become more progressive with our approaches to our people strategies and workplace experiences. The risk of organizations doing nothing is no longer an option. Organizations that sit idle will ultimately be disrupted by more forward-thinking, provocative organizations, and will lose their competitive position and talented people to those that are moving forward.

To provide deeper insight into these philosophies, we’ve launched a new study focused on the future of work, conducted by Hanover Research. It explores the primary challenges faced by North American organizations, and how their leaders are addressing them. How are the forces driving the changing workplace impacting sentiment among business leaders and decision-makers? How are they responding, and where are they potentially vulnerable? Where is the opportunity?

 

There were a lot of questions we sought to understand and answer with our research. A few takeaways that stood out are as follows:

  • The majority (71%) of North American decision makers are very concerned about the future health of their industry
    • Rapid technological development, and a shortage of skilled talent were identified as two of our respondent’s biggest challenges
  • Half of respondents said they plan to adopt advanced technologies, including AI and machine learning, and many believe the size of their workforce will increase as a result. This runs contrary to the popular notion of machines replacing humans in their jobs, and suggests organizations recognize human-machine integration and collaboration can lead to smarter and more strategic decision-making and greater performance
  • While 45% of respondents believe they are currently facing a skills gap and believe this will persist over the next two years (63%), they may be missing key opportunities to address skill and knowledge gaps through strategic educational partnerships and better investments in modern learning.

Decision-makers are aware the nature of work is changing, but the data suggests they’re not necessarily seeing the bigger picture, or taking high-value actions that will drive business performance in a future of work that looks very different than the one we’re in today. The full Ceridian 2020 Future of Work Report highlights these and other findings from our research, including the rise of the gig economy and how organizations are utilizing it to amplify their workforce strategies and performance.

In short, the future of work is already here – and it’s not too late to put the right strategies in place to thrive in this new “normal.” But if you wait too long, underestimate its impact on your business, or simply think it won’t impact you, I wouldn’t envy you when it’s time to walk into the boardroom and explain why your people strategies are failing to execute as designed.

Lisa Sterling

As Chief People and Culture Officer, Lisa is responsible for executing Ceridian's global people strategy combined with leading the vision on the Dayforce Talent Management offering.

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