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Trends that are revolutionising the working world

Posted on 31/07/2013 by Jamie Eaton in Category Managed Services
How will your organisation embrace changing working trends?  A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) entitled 'Megatrends – The trends shaping work and working lives' highlights four megatrends that will impact us all in the next decade.

According to the report, the last century has seen the working world change beyond recognition. In particular it reveals that from 1998 to 2010, the proportion of private sector employment accounted for by organisations with more than 250 employees fell from 49% to 40%, while the proportion of employees in the smallest firms (one to four employees) doubled from 11% to 22%.

Also, key trends that appear to have shaped work in recent times include de-industrialisation, demographic change, and educational attainment. Looking ahead, the report identified four new megatrends that could dramatically impact the working world in the next decade. These are:

  • Have we seen the end of the pay rise?

  • Are we seeing the end of the ‘job for life’?

  • Are we working harder than ever? 

  • Are organisations losing the trust of their workers?

Perhaps the most notable of these future trends is the end of the ‘job for life’. As organisations continue to grapple with the current economic climate, there has been a steady increase in the use of temporary labour and contract staff. According to the Monthly Hiring Trends report June/July, the volume of professional temporary labour placements rose by 6.1% compared to the same time last year. The reasons for this are varied and complex – however one thing is certain – organisations across both the public and private sector now want the greater flexibility that comes with non permanent staff. They want experienced senior people who have the depth of knowledge to see the business through tough economic times, and they want the flexibility of a contingent labour force that can be deployed at short notice.

While many of the changes in the workforce are being driven by a changing business environment, individuals themselves are also driving a new approach to work. Many people choose flexible working as a lifestyle choice that can strike a balance between the security of permanent work and the entrepreneurial excitement of being self employed.  Many of the country’s most educated and highly skilled professionals now hold contract positions in highly complex and challenging roles including IT, engineering and management. Forward thinking organisations have realised that experience and talent come in many different forms and that embracing all kinds of working arrangements makes sense, not just from a HR perspective but commercially too. 

If we cast our minds ahead to 2020 and beyond, I believe that we will see a further evolution of working trends.  If automatic pay rises and the job for life are a thing of the past, what else is in store over the coming decades? What is clear is:

  • there is a severe shortage of skilled workers particularly across science, technical and engineering roles. If we can’t meet the shortfall from UK graduates, we will have to look elsewhere meaning a much more internationally diverse workforce. 

  • with an ageing population and the end to the default retirement age, employers will truly have to embrace an older workforce and provide even greater work-life balance  

  • varying levels of growth in the traditional labour force coupled with new types of roles will mean that employers will need to recruit from a wider section of society, opening up higher participation from women, the elderly and people with disabilities

  • technological advances will continue at pace so new skills will be required by the workforce. Examples of this include our PCs and workbooks will support even more real-time speech recognition and translation. Also, in manufacturing, advanced robotics will play an even greater role, changing the role of the workforce

  • flexible working may overtake the fixed 9 to 5 working day. Age UK is calling for jobs to be ‘flexible by default’ by 2020.​

The trends that have shaped our workplace over the past century have resulted in a much more productive, more flexible and a happier, healthier workforce, benefitting businesses and people. What’s coming our way can be equally beneficial as long as we are brave enough to start looking ahead now and prepare our businesses and people for new ways of working, truly embracing the potential of both people and technology.​