Across the world, there is no denying that the workforce is changing.
Not only have workers’ demographics shifted over the years, but so too did the social contract between employers and employees.
“Different generations have different values from their lifetimes’ experiences. They all have different ways in which they would either like to manage or be managed,” explains Nadine Mather, senior associate in Bowmans’ employment law practice.
New entrants to the labour market: Millennials and Generation Z
Millennials, a demographic cohort born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, are, for instance, causing businesses to reconsider employment practices and policies, according to Bowmans.
They note that millennials will make up over 40% of the workforce this year.
“Are you familiar with them? Do you have a few at home?” asks Steven Hatfield, global future of work leader at Deloitte, who also sits on the company’s human capital executive committee.
Hatfield was asking about generation Z, the post-millennials born between the late 1990s and now.
It is the latter that human resource practitioners should be focusing on, in order to prepare the organisation for a changing future workplace. Generation Z has begun to enter the workforce.
“They are the most digital and mobile generation ever, spending an average of ten hours online per day,” says Hatfield, “It is how they work.
It is how they function.
It is how they understand the world.“What will it feel like when that generation enters the workplace and they cannot do their work on their phone?
Is your business ready for them?” he asks.
The boomer workforce and gig economy
Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are living healthier and longer lives, due to technology that improved their quality of life, says Hatfield.
Joanne Macris, managing director of recruitment agency Abantu Resources, adds that it’s essential that companies retain this particular talent by further developing skills and offering benefits for long-term retention.
Organisations also have a broad continuum of options for finding workers now, from hiring traditional full-time employees to using managed services and outsourcing, independent contractors, crowdsourcing and gig workers, according to Hatfield.
As labour-sourcing options increase, Deloitte notes that it opens the possibility for more efficiency and creativity in composing an organisation’s workforce.
But also taking into consideration that with more options, often comes more complexity.
According to Deloitte, employers should not only consider how roles are crafted when pairing humans with machines, but also the arrangement of their human workforce and what type of employment is best suited to obtain the creativity, passion, and skillsets needed for the work at hand.
In order to succeed, Deloitte says organisations should zoom out and imagine the possibilities so that they can compose work, the workforce, and the workplace in such a way that it increases both value and meaning.
This all the while taking advantage of the opportunities for efficiency at hand.
Deloitte gave examples of actions that employers could consider in directing forces of change in recruitment.
First, setting goals for the future of work that reach beyond cost and efficiency to include value and meaning.
Secondly, they can analyse and redesign work, workforce, and workplace options that take advantage of the value of automation, alternative talent sources, and collaborative workplaces.
Finally, employers could align the organisation, leadership, and workforce development programmes to access skills, curate next-generation experiences, and engage the workforce of the future in long-term relationships and business leaders in new ways of working.
“Organisations such as Absa have their team building across different generations, where they, for example, pair the younger workforce with the older, to learn from each other,” says Mather.
Most employers have found that one of the positive traits about hiring millennials is that they are the first generation to grow up using technology, or the internet to be more specific, which has created a big benefit to the organisation’s technological tools and increased the efficiency, she says.
The rise of the social enterprise
What we are seeing, thanks to the rise of social media, is that more and more workers have greater power to begin to influence how businesses step in to deal with certain societal issues.
“We have seen workers at Google, for instance, leaving the shop because they were protesting against Google allowing the censorship of information in places like China or working with the US Pentagon on drones,” says Hatfield.
They are forcing businesses to take a very hard look at how to deal with some of these problems.
In human capital trends, they call it the rise of the social enterprise, he says, adding that 88% of the millennials in Deloitte’s future of work 2018 study expect businesses to be measured on more than just financial performance.
About 90% believe that climate change is the number one issue to address.
The mega theme going forward is caring capitalism, says Dr MartynDavies, managing director at Deloitte.
Employers should be mindful of whether something like a team-building exercise or outings they plan will do what they’re supposed to do, which is to build a team.
They ought to ensure that it is an activity that everybody likes, instead of getting rugby or ballet tickets for all employees, with the assumption that they are doing everyone a favour, says Luway Mongie, partner at Bowmans.
“You need to come up with team-building initiatives that are accommodating both to your old and younger workforce. You sort of have to find a middle ground,” says Yonela Sicam, an associate at Bowmans.
On mental health, she says that from a survey Bowmans conducted on how to create awareness and be more supportive, some of the suggestions included mindfulness, independent in-house counselling, wellness lunches, wellness days and even a crying room.
Parent jobseekers are nowadays looking out for whether the employer has a crèche, which may be an attractive solution to juggling career and family.