When I was young, I had a clear sense of my future: finish high school, go to university, get a job and grow within that company for my entire career. This was a common approach for my generation, as stability was a key component of working life. But today, as we live through what is essentially a fourth industrial revolution, where advanced digital technology is changing the face of every industry, career paths are no longer quite so linear. We are living in the age of self-optimization, self-recognition, and self-customization, which is altering the workforce as we know it.
In my company, we see organizational trends that are shifting how we lead, how we organize, how we prioritize and how we develop people. I believe that it’s a company’s responsibility to stay ahead of the curve and to prepare itself for a new kind of workplace that will attract next generation talents. Here’s a look at the seven trends that we have identified which we think will help more companies do this:
An insight-driven career path
Through advanced analytics, new insights are coming to light that can enable workers to have progressive employee experiences. Data can help answer questions such as: ‘What is the best opportunity across the company which an employee should pursue?’, ‘What customized learning path should an employee take based on job performance and personal career objectives?’ Through the responsible use of people analytics, employers and employees alike will benefit from insight-driven career paths.
Leaders who coach
Leaders are shifting from directing to coaching. The coaching style is about empowering, motivating and giving teams greater autonomy. It should also provide ample room for workers to experiment, fail, adapt quickly and develop the best solutions for customers in a shorter amount of time.
Agile is just the beginning
Forward-thinking companies are experimenting with flexible ways of working throughout their global workforces. Whether it’s an agile methodology or similar, the goal is to cultivate and implement working models that project simplicity, dynamism and team-based collaboration. This is a style that is harmonious with the flat and open organization structure in my company, somewhat inspired by Scandinavian working culture.
Inclusion is the new order of business
Inclusion is a choice a company makes. While diversity efforts are about having the right policies and initiatives in place, we see that this is not enough. To be inclusive, companies need to actively address biases, seek to include varying viewpoints and work to enable diverse teams to reach to their full potential. It’s increasingly important for companies to address sensitive issues in order to tackle unconscious bias among all employees. It’s also critical to build competence among managers so that they are well-equipped to lead diverse teams.
Learning while earning
Learning is not just the responsibility of the school system anymore. Companies are now expected to offer learning opportunities to employees, such as through online courses, accelerator programs, mentorship initiatives, and on-the-job training. As an example, my company last year introduced the 40-Hour Challenge in which our employees are encouraged to use 40 hours of paid work time for training and education of their choice within the year.
Disconnect to connect
In our constantly connected world, employers have a responsibility to help employees prioritize balance in their lives. I believe that we will see a shift in habits, with more people adjusting their work schedules to fit their private lives rather than adjusting their private lives to fit work. Companies will also place more emphasis on flexibility, with consideration for the employee’s life phase, such as when becoming new parents or approaching retirement.
Have a purpose
Employees expect to be part of a company that they trust, that is purpose-driven, that abides by the right values and practices responsible business. Our actions should speak louder than the words written on our corporate website and annual report. The purpose question comes up increasingly often during job interviews, and it’s a growing expectation from young talents.
As I still look back on my career so far, I see dramatic changes to the workforce thanks to more advanced technology and the digitalization of the workplace. But with all of these changes, comes great expectations. As employers, we have a responsibility to our employees, a responsibility to be transparent, to contribute positively to societies, to empower teams, to provide learning and growth opportunities for employees, and to ensure that inclusion is at the heart of the organization. So let’s stay ahead of the curve and create organizations where people truly thrive.