The Future of Work - Part 1 of 5

added by Craig Steel

The outbreak of COVID-19 has not only disrupted the lives of millions, it has changed business for good.

As a result, flexible working and talent management have become a top priority for everyone.

In years gone by, the need for Chief Executives to delve into their people practices was at most intermittent, whereas today, they know these subjects will determine their very survival.

The speed at which new technologies are disrupting industry means our competitors in 2-3 years’ time may not yet even exist.

Further to this, new ways of working means tomorrow’s workforce will be more mobile and informed which will tilt the balance of power.

With over 40 percent of the global workforce considering leaving their employer in the coming year, companies will need to reinvent the way they work if they are to retain the talent they need going forward.


As Microsoft points out in its latest (2021) Work Trend Index Annual Report*, there are 7 trends businesses need to understand if they are to remain competitive in the future.

These include:

  • The permanence of flexible working
  • The fact leaders are out of touch with their employees and need to address it
  • That our historically high productivity levels are masking employee exhaustion
  • That Gen Z is at risk and needs to be re-energised
  • That shrinking networks are endangering innovation
  • That authenticity, when demonstrated, still spurs productivity and engagement, and
  • That talent is everywhere and available to those who embrace next-generation practices.



As performance specialists, we are excited about the changes taking place, but we are also cognisant of the pressures they are placing on businesses the world over.

Through no fault of their own, we are seeing historically successful companies being thrown into turmoil because they haven’t had the headspace to look around the corner.

Equally, we are seeing organisations that are otherwise unremarkable winning business because they have had the foresight to focus on their people’s experience.

Irrespective of your situation, you need to know what’s coming and how it will affect your sector.

You also need to recognise that conventional management theories are being thrown out faster than at any time in history because they’re in conflict with the new world people want to work in.

While there’s no doubt some industries will have more time to change than others, it is clear every organisation competing in the global market will need to adopt more employee-centric processes if they are to retain the goodwill of their people.

They will also need to think of their people’s experience as the key to winning customers, and champion diversity and inclusion; not only because it’s the right thing to do but because if they don’t, they’ll get run over by those who embrace it.

Further to this, they will need to simplify their business to reduce the stress their staff are experiencing rather than throwing money at wellness programmes and resilience training in an attempt to try and address it.

Most importantly though, leaders need to start thinking about their people as the only sustainable point of difference they’ve got rather than a resource they require to operate.

For those who address these things, they will enjoy a long and prosperous future. However, for those who don’t, they will simply disappear.


Additional Considerations

The World Economic Forum’s six imperatives for business leaders* are:

  • Developing new leadership capabilities
  • Managing the integration of technology in the workplace
  • Enhancing the employee experience
  • Building an agile and personalised learning culture
  • Establishing appropriate metrics for valuing human capital
  • Embedding diversity and inclusion




This article is part of our white paper 'The Future of Work: a performance-focused insight.' To request a copy, please email us at [email protected]


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