The confluence of technology, socioeconomic changes, and workforce demographics will conspire to create six significant developments for the workplace of the future (circa 2025-2030).
In looking at the workforce, we’ll see the tail end of the Baby Boomers retiring and the Gen Xers, those born between 1965 and 1980, entering retirement. That means the Gen Y generation, those born between 1980 and 1995, should be hitting their professional stride and entering their peak earning years, while the Gen Z cohort, those born between 1995 and 2010, will be in the early stages of their career.
These changing demographics will create a significant culture shift within the business community:
1. More people working past traditional retirement age
Insecurity about social security means that more people will continue working past the finish line of traditional retirement age to bolster their retirement nest eggs. Indeed, 70 or 72 will be the new 65 and mandatory retirement age business policies may come under scrutiny.
Regardless of whether they can prove it in court, older workers in the job market often face covert age discrimination. That reality will lead many who wish to continue leading productive lives on the job to create their own jobs and become entrepreneurs or offer their services and experience in other ways.
Smart businesses will be lucky to capitalize on that horsepower, through mentorship and other flexible job arrangements.
2. Entrepreneurship will reach new heights
The unprecedented power of the Internet and technology advances that can turn every computer into a virtual business center allows more people to start new companies than ever before. Boomers and Gen Xers supplementing their retirement savings will accelerate this trend as well as the predominance of Gen Ys in the workforce who grew up believing that anyone with a computer can create the next Facebook.
Along with the explosion of new online businesses will be those unscrupulous individuals who seek to defraud honest consumers and it will lead to new Internet laws aimed at tightening the rule of law. In the process the scammers will learn that there is no such thing as “too small to sue.”
But in the meantime, we’ll experience an avalanche of new products and services that will enrich our lives and create new jobs and emerging business cultures. Harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of your employees can catapult even the most staid business to new heights. The failure to do so might just launch a future competitor.
3. Great workplaces will be nimble and responsive
Gen Ys entering their prime will greatly influence business cultures. They’re tech savvy and their preference for mobility and work/life balance means that retaining top talent will require great workplaces to accommodate more virtual environments. As a result, more employees will be working remotely instead of cubicle farms under a single roof and great workplaces will need to embrace that flexibility if they want to survive.
Face time will be replaced with results as the real measure of productivity and the fast paced environment will also demand that employee performance reviews and course corrections be conducted more frequently. When face to face meetings are necessary, a premium will be placed on running efficient meetings. It will put a new emphasis on employer-employee relations that will require executives, managers and entrepreneurs to develop a new skill set.
4. Great workplaces will be inclusive
Anti-bullying laws, already adopted in eight states, will become widespread and pose a serious obstacle to the continuation of “do as I say” command and control cultures often found in “too big to fail” enterprises.
The anti-bullying trend will foster more inclusiveness in the decision making process, allowing more employees to make meaningful contributions and feel like they are making a difference. It will therefore lead to greater job satisfaction and reduce employee turnover rates, one of the single highest costs for entrepreneurs.
Inclusion and openness to new ideas from all corners of the organization will also be necessary to maintain a competitive edge in the market place since international competition will continue to increase from emerging economic powers: China, India and Brazil. Their respective Gen Y cohort is not stereotyped by a sense of entitlement embroidered with Redbox mental health days as Gen Ys in the US. (Yes, I know that’s a gross generalization and doesn’t apply to everyone in that cohort; but, that’s what stereotypes are -- generalizations.)
In contrast, their international counterparts have been parented by Dragon Moms and as a result their workaholic ethos is more akin to that of the Baby Boomers. That means our Gen Y will have to bring their A+ game if they want to stay world class.
5. Great workplaces will value leadership development
Employees are typically promoted because of superior performance in their area of specialization. Yet as their span of control increases with each promotion they are not always prepared to take on the additional legal or human resource management issues that come with the territory.
Great workplaces recognize the need for additional leadership development to help fill this gap and in the workplace of the future excellent people skills will be essential to create and maintain employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity.
Gen Ys measure success by a different yardstick than their predecessors. As a result, business leaders will need new skills and incentives beyond the traditional triggers of money, power, and prestige if they expect to successfully cultivate employee engagement.
6. Great workplaces of the future will be more transparent
More transparency and higher business ethics comes with greater leadership skills and such transparency will also be necessitated by Gen Z, the cohort following Gen Y. They are even more tech savvy than Gen Y. They’re highly connected and should probably be called the “super connectors.” They will help spark a need for more business ethics because their high connectivity not only makes whistle blowing a breeze, but also reflexive. It’s part of their value system. It’s how they’re wired.
It’s often said that if you build your people they will build your business enterprise. That’s never been truer than today, especially if you build and support your people. Give them a purpose and let them feel part of a bigger whole through inclusion and transparency and they will reward you with engagement and loyalty. It unleashes potential and power of a TEAM.
Businesses that embrace these changes now can be frontrunners and benefit by attracting and retaining the best talent. It’s the secret to sustainability and long term success.
Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, Esq., is The No Nonsense Lawyer™ and America’s Legal Advocate for Entrepreneurs. She is a licensed attorney, an award winning author, speaker, and founder of the consulting firm Business M.O., LLC and the Legal Leverage® Academy (www.nononsenselawyer.com).
Business M.O. is the recent winner of the ACQ Global Award for 2013 in the category of US – Leadership Advisory of the Year.
Hanna’s analyses and recommendations have assisted influential decision makers ranging from start-ups to Big Tobacco, and the White House and featured in print publications, radio and TV, including MSNBC, FoxNews, as well as on America’s Premier Experts (aired on ABC, NBC CBS and Fox affiliates nationwide).
Books include the Amazon best seller Champions: Knockout Strategies for Health, Wealth, and Success from Today’s Leading Experts, and The Business Guide to Legal Literacy: What Every Manager Should Know about the Law.
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