Trends. Trends. Trends. In 2020, the world is obsessed with what’s currently trending, and even more concerned with what will be trending in the foreseeable future. One question I’ve been asking myself has been: Who is driving these workplace trends? I’ve been following workplace-related topics for some time now and I’d like to share my aggregated thoughts on who I’ve found to be the driving force behind the latest and upcoming trends – and a couple resounding factors that are causing businesses to adapt their operations.
Let’s face the fact that between millennials and Gen Z, the workforce is becoming increasingly younger (a trend in itself). Millennials are expected to make up half of the US workforce this year alone, and 75 percent of the global workforce in the next five years. Baby boomers are on their way out, and this new wave of younger generations is bringing with them all kinds of expectations, and dare I say, demands. Speaking as a millennial, we lived our preteen years with kid-friendly technology basically consisting of dial-up internet, AOL Instant Messenger, and Saturday morning cartoons on TV. Growing into young adults we experienced the boom of social media. Those two points are to say that we recognize, and ultimately want, a balance of technology and human interaction – heck, even a mixture of both, like Skype meetings will do.
Next, we have Gen Z. A generation that only knows life with more advanced consumer technology. Their preteen years consisted of the first iPhone release. That statement alone lets you know what this generation is about. Technology. And it is almost synonymous with air for these individuals. This necessity in lifestyle has spilled over into the workplace in various forms.
These two generations answer the “who” of my original question: Who is driving these workplace trends? Sure, it might have been obvious already, but it’s fun to informally break down a couple of the latent drivers behind businesses reshaping their day-to-day operation structure and overall workplace offerings.
So what workplace trends are these generations driving? Technology will undoubtedly be an umbrella theme encompassing almost all workplace trends, but I’ve found that two things, in particular, will continue to shape future trends.
No, I’m not referring to being able to contort your body to achieve ultimate yogi status. This type of flexibility is about when and where work is done. Tying technology back into the equation, we now live in a world where all kinds of work can be done from anywhere. And younger generations understand how to both utilize and leverage tech to increase productivity outside the office while keeping team communication at a peak. Workers can now stay connected to a company without being physically connected.
A study carried out by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that 35% of the US workforce in 2019 freelanced. That number is expected to increase by 15% this year, with 50% of the millennial and Gen Z generations comprising that number. To gain long-term tenancy, employers are shifting what it means to be a full-time employee, and what these positions look like from a financial and workload standpoint. The use of scheduling, time-keeping, project management, and business communication & collaboration software is on an upward tick as employers explore tools to help them attract, retain, communicate, and ultimately work best with these incoming, technology-enveloped generations.
Working With A Purpose
If you’ve ever read or heard anything from Simon Sinek, you’ve probably come across him saying that younger generations (particularly millennials) want to feel that the work they are doing has meaning behind it. They want to know “why” they’re doing the work they are doing. This means that younger generations want to work for companies whose ultimate purpose aligns with their personal values. Younger generations want to feel fulfilled by the work they are doing, whether that’s in or out of the office. In a world where automation can do so many of the mundane tasks that humans need not do, the upcoming workforce is looking for a deeper reason for being. Gone are the days where completing the job at hand is the purpose of the job. In a study by Deloitte, it was found that 87% of millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance. Younger generations are judging companies more and more by what a business does and how it treats people. And this is expressed in a company’s culture.
We are seeing employers showcase their company culture now more than ever. And they are paying big bucks for consultants to come in and help them redefine what it means to work at and for their companies. Recruiting firms are now leading with the, “Why You Want To Work Here” approach, and citing an in-depth company culture description, rather than opening with 401k plans and insurance benefits.
Flexibility and working with a purpose are just two workplace trends I feel the upcoming generations in the workforce will continue to push forward. As technology remains a staple that allows workers to perform from anywhere in the world and still be fully connected, the human touch of feeling like the work being done matters to a higher degree becomes increasingly important.
What are some of the workplace trends you think are on the rise and here to stay? What are some other topics you’d like covered in 2020?
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