A major change is taking place in the way that people are thinking about the traditional idea of work. Today’s workforce is increasingly mobile, global and on-call, meaning that the current constructs of office and company culture will need a serious refresh if they’re planning on keeping up with a new set of employee needs and expectations. As evidence of this state of flux, a whopping 68% of Gen Xers and Ys believe that work needs to be radically reinvented, according to The Curve Report from NBCUniversal Integrated Media.
Why is this shift taking place, and what exactly are the forces driving this evolution? In collaboration with the minds behind The Curve Report, PSFK examines the reinvention of the modern workplace and looks at how today’s workers are preparing themselves for success.
While previous generations may have had the promise of long-term job security and support from their employer, in today’s world of corporate downsizing, layoffs, and vanished pensions, putting all your eggs into one employer’s basket doesn’t ensure the same payoff that it used to. In fact, according to The Curve Report, more than half (57%) of Gen Xers and Ys believe that the American Dream is a thing of the past, but feel they have very little guidance in what to aspire to going forward; 59% say they wish there were new blueprints for how to navigate life today.
Challenged by a less definitive roadmap for achieving success, particularly within a single company, today’s workers have to be able to improvise and adapt to be able to take advantage of openings in the marketplace. This increased malleability has led to the freelance lifestyle becoming a more acceptable and mainstream alternative, while simultaneously creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs to disrupt entire industries. But how do workers ready themselves to make the leap and how can companies ensure that they’re able to attract and cultivate this new talent?
There are a variety of new technologies emerging to help people adapt to the changing nature of work and maintain the skills they need in order to progress along their chosen career paths. For example, ResumUp has created a step-by-step visual roadmap that charts where workers are and where they want to go with their careers, and helps identify the intermediary steps that will help them achieve their long-term goals. ResumUp also utilizes contacts within users’ social networks who can provide suitable advice and information. Services such as this are key in helping aspirational workers understand how to navigate the new job market and get ahead in their careers.
Similarly, workers are facing the issue of needing an entirely new set of skills to work effectively in the digital era. To help with this knowledge, technology company Treehouse has created an online learning platform to teach students and workers how to develop their own applications and sites for web and mobile. Users can learn a variety of programming languages to design, develop and write for the web and mobile platforms. This kind of online learning opportunity from sites such as Treehouse allow workers to develop and hone their own set of skills, which help them grow outside the traditional boundaries of the workplace.
Coming at it from the opposite direction, companies and organizations are being faced with the challenge of becoming more adaptive and nimble in order to attract and maintain a skilled and engaged workforce. A radical example of one way this is being accomplished is software developer Valve, who quite literally invites employees to be their own boss, guided only by suggestions in their employee handbook. Employees at Valve work on their own projects 100% of the time, completed through peer-to-peer, project-by-project teams that assemble and disassemble as work is completed. The overall direction of the company is decided entirely by the employees and what they decide to work on as a collective. This interesting approach highlights an entirely different way of structuring an organization to empower employees, improve morale and foster creativity.
As individual workers and entire organizations try to find their footing within this fluid marketplace, there are new opportunities for progressive and even revolutionary thinkers to create innovative tools, modes of thinking and solutions to support this evolving set of needs. Examples like ResumUp, Treehouse and Valve show how some workers and employers are already adapting to these challenges.
Looking ahead, the workforce will be relying on the creativity of upcoming generations to envision new ways for employment to remain an innovative, productive, and ultimately rewarding pursuit. In fact, according to The Curve Report, 61% of 18- to 49-year-olds say you can’t count on retirement, so it’s best to have fun and explore passions now rather than wait.
For a closer look at these new trends in the workforce and how they are being leveraged, be sure to head over to The Curve Report to check out Life, Reconstructed, which examines the new borders that are being drawn for the everyday territories of work, education, home, and family.