Coming to an office near you...

Emily Castle, Nov 07,2018

…FOUR-DAY WEEKS, HYPER-FLEXIBILITY AND THE EVER-GROWING IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS

The Guardian ran a story this week about firms moving to a four-day week, in order to boost productivity and well-being (the UK has the unhappy combination of both long hours and low output).

This got us thinking about the other changes that might be coming our way. Keeping an eye on workplace trends might not always be top of the agenda, but we ignore them at our peril –  lack of planning can leave businesses seriously ill-equipped for the future.

These are some of the things we think you should watch out for –

 

The ever-growing appetite for flexibility

Mercer tells us that 72% of full-time employees say they would consider working on a contingent or contract basis. This shows how permanent employees now expect greater freedom to work when it suits them.

This is more than just flexible working arrangements, but complete career flexibility too.

People are no longer following traditional career ladders or linear pathways. Businesses that can offer real career customisation – allowing employees flexibility in terms of varied skills and roles, career breaks and changes, phased retirement and much more – will look increasingly attractive to the most talented employees.

 

Gen Z is here

There are already lots of generations working together, each bringing their different styles to the workplace. Now, there’s another one coming to an office near you – Gen Z.

A generation of digital natives who have grown up with new technologies, Nielsen claims they are used to being bombarded with messages from social media – which means they are able to quickly detect whether or not something is credible and relevant to them.

For businesses this means it’s even more important for communications (and the strategies that lie behind them) to be authentic and meaningful. Being purpose-led and living a brand-led culture will be essential if businesses are to create a connection to their employees and customers.

 

The rise of soft skills

The skills we need to thrive are changing, forcing businesses to focus on new priorities. As the role of technology grows in the workplace, taking over more and more functional tasks, people skills are becoming ever-more valuable.

Businesses are already experiencing challenges around this. Typical recruitment practice, which promotes employees based on their technical skills, has left us with a middle tier of managers who are often light on people skills.

This means they are failing to spot well-being and metal health challenges; struggling to offer true mentorship; finding it hard to motivate and inspire their teams.

Businesses of all kinds are going to have to work much harder to equip the next generation of managers with these new skills; re-evaluating the criteria around the kind of people they promote and finding new career options for those high-performing individuals who lack people leadership potential.

 

Overall…

As the demands of customers evolve, so do those of the workplace. Yet many businesses are still not sufficiently planning ahead or getting ready for what these changes will mean for us. It’s more than providing flexible working arrangements – that is just the tip of the iceberg. Now is the time for businesses to take a more bold and radical approach, to create a culture that will keep their brand truly fit for the future.

 

PS That guardian article can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/05/firms-switched-four-day-week-increase-efficiency-health-happiness

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