Are you building a 21st century workforce?

Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
08 Mar 2019

08 Mar 2019 • by Changeboard Team

The world of work is evolving at pace. No sooner did we say goodbye to the one-company, gold-watch-collecting salary man, than the employer-hopping, career-progressing go-getter is also starting to wobble at the top of their corporate ladder. They’re being replaced by people who value development over promotion and adaptation over progression.

With the workplace changing, with uncertainty over which skills will become redundant in the future, particularly with advances in AI and automation, people want to be able to adapt. And in order to be able to do that, they want to learn from their jobs: new skills, new techniques, sometimes completely new professions. A position is seen less in terms of money or job title, more as an experience. It can be good, bad, useful, fun, painful: but each experience teaches that person something. Therefore, careers aren’t what they once were: a career can now be described as a series of experiences.

This means employers need to lure in employees with training and personal development that the employee will, almost certainly, take to another employer. It sounds counter-intuitive, but there is no choice. This is what people want, so the better an offering, the better the candidate you’re going to attract.

So are employers set for this? Embracing something that, in theory, means a better-trained, more flexible and adaptable workforce. In short: no.

In Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, while “building the 21st century career” was the third most important trend – 47% of respondents described it as very important - only 9% of respondents were ready to address this trend.

Just 20% said that their organisation develops employees through experiential learning, and 18% feel they give employees the ability to actively develop themselves. Some 54% had no programs to build the skills of the future, with internal mobility still habitually driven by tenure, title, and internal politics.

The required shift in attitude won’t be easy, in part because any culture change takes time, but also because the nature of the employee-employer relationship is changing. On one hand, employee rights and wellbeing are rightfully seen as extremely important; on the other hand, the rapid rise in self-employment means that many organisations have people working with them on a contract or ‘gig’ basis.

An increase in home-working, too, has added to the disparate nature of the workforce. This makes development and training all the more challenging and the chances of the fruits of that learning being taken elsewhere.

But still that’s a risk that needs taking. And, of course, the employer who loses someone that they’ve spent time and money training up will probably gain someone who’s been trained elsewhere. Not only that, but a reputation for development will be attractive to the best people possible.

People’s ambitions are now different: employers need to be different, too.

To read Workday’s white paper on building a better workforce, click here