HR & Management

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Responding to a new way of working

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The government estimates that digital skills will be needed for 90 per cent of jobs in 20 years’ time, and as technology continues to evolve, the skills learned at school and university today may not be relevant in the future, meaning a new way of working will be required.

At the same time, technological advancement is making it easier to work flexibly. Uber grew from a startup to having over one million active drivers in over 350 cities in six years. It’s businesses like this, working in the gig economy, which have disrupted the notion of the traditional 9-5 job; putting increasing pressure on governments and businesses, as people have welcomed the promise of greater freedom and on-demand opportunities.

This has given rise to a new model of working – NextGen work. In a world of rapid change, it will be skills, combined with a new way of working, that will provide career security, opportunity for growth, and prosperity for individuals and businesses alike.

A new way of working

NextGen work revolves around getting the job done through part-time, contingent, contract, temporary, freelance and on-demand online channels.

Employers and employees alike want more choice and flexibility when it comes to working styles. Nearly 40 per cent of people say that schedule flexibility – especially flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home — is one of the top three factors when making career decisions. Also, if employees can work flexibly, they want their benefits to do the same. They want certifications, pensions and even training funds to travel with them from job to job.

Here are three factors driving people to choose this new way of working.

(1) Opportunity to earn more

With job uncertainty likely to rise over the coming decade, people are no longer reliant on one source of income. The global recession, automation and low productivity continue to impact wages – 65 per cent of households in developed countries earned the same in 2014 as they did in 2005.

However, NextGen work enables people to supplement their income, providing the freedom to explore different roles and offer in-demand skills that businesses desperately need. Young millennials are most likely to choose NextGen working practices to earn additional income, so it’s important that organisations offer greater flexibility to accommodate this new workforce.

(2) Skills development

Some 40 per cent of employers can’t find the skills they need and 65 per cent of the jobs young millennials (18-24) will do, don’t even exist yet. Skills development is vitally important for the UK’s global competitiveness and remains a top priority for government and industry to solve.

Businesses want to find the best talent and individuals are increasingly seeing in-demand skills as an enabler to climb the corporate ladder and secure long-term employment. The focus must be on self-development and continuous learning. This can be through external training programmes or the opportunity to work on different projects around the business. Research shows 80 per cent of NextGen staff see work as the key place to learn and develop new skills.

(3) Taking control

The lines between home life and work life are becoming increasingly blurred, and people have turned to NextGen Work models to make it easier to manage and enjoy their personal time. For many, the ability to balance spending more time with their families can make the difference between working or not.

Shifting career priorities are adjusting how, when and where people choose to work. It’s important therefore, for businesses to understand this shift and create jobs that allow for happier, more engaged employees. If businesses fail to get employee engagement right, employees may well look to move to other companies that do.

People are choosing to work differently and finding a new way of working is on the rise. Whether it’s young graduates trying to break into the workforce, mid-careers trying to balance caring for newborns, teenagers or older family members, people want jobs that are more agile than the traditional job-for-life model.

To meet this demand, businesses must find the best balance of flexibility and responsibility. To do so effectively, they need to do more to develop and keep their staff energised and engaged.

Whether that’s offering flexible working hours or on-demand opportunities, leaders must enable, not prevent, NextGen Work. The trend is set to continue in the coming years and it’s time that employees and businesses alike embrace this new way of working.

Martin Ewings, Director of Specialist Markets, Experis

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