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Global and regional trends: The future of work in CEEMEA and how employers can adapt to it

Future of Work

May 22, 2018

Although no one can predict the future we do have a wealth of growing workplace trends to help inform and shape our future strategy.

Reportedly 65% of children entering primary school today will grow up to take jobs in roles that don’t yet exist—somehow, we need to be prepared for this. While no one can predict the future, we do already have some growing workplace trends to help inform strategy.


Yet somehow, we need to be prepared for this. Impossible, right? No one can predict the future.

While I agree with this, we do also have a wealth of growing workplace trends to help inform and shape strategy. So let’s take a look at four of the most important ones and ask how they could impact your business going forward.

1.  Big data

Yes, the internet is rapidly consuming our lives. We have tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, and laptops. We’re always connected, creating huge amounts of data, and it’s rapidly changing how we operate our businesses.

For a start, it requires specific skills to collect and store all this information. We need new digital skills and IT security architects – requirements that that didn’t exist a decade ago. Yet, 77% of organisations list missing skills as the single biggest problem they face. How are you meant to identify gaps in the workplace if you’re not sure yourself what’s missing?

Thankfully for us, storing data offers the opportunity to mine it, extract powerful analytics and improve decision-making, especially when hiring and managing talent. Employee self-assessments and performance reviews, for example, offer a chance to get to grips with the worker landscape and prioritise filling gaps in knowledge. I’m increasingly seeing HR becoming vital to helping companies defining strategic needs.

2. Automation

The Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Future Of Work Survey found that three years ago, 91% of jobs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) were done by humans. Today it’s 85%. In three years’ time it’s expected to be 75%.

Automation is a scary prospect for many in the workplace. Will it steal jobs? Well, that same surveywith responses from 909 employers across 38 countries – also found that this is one of the biggest automation myths. Reducing human error and costs are just part of the story. Nearly half (45%) of EMEA responders named transformation – the augmentation of human performance – as automation’s main role.

I think transformation is especially important for those in HR. After all, it’s all about engaging people and developing potential. The priority for HR professionals should be to ensure digital automation solutions are employed to make the best use of employees’ strengths.

However, I can’t deny that job loss due to automation is still an issue. It’s estimated that 5% of employees will have 100% of their day-to-day tasks automated. Employers have to help workers upskill before it is too late, while also shifting the types of jobs on offer – adapting some roles to be carried out by workers with low skill sets while redesigning others to satisfy those with wider skill sets.

3. Instability

According to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Future Of Work Survey, the next three years will see a 6% drop in the number of full-time employees, globally and across the EMEA.

As automation deconstructs jobs, work stability is falling and use of non-employee talent – such as freelancers – is rising.
So the full-time worker model is slowly changing. This means contingent staff cannot be taken for granted. Increasingly employers are providing contingent staff with the recognition they deserve. Let’s flick back to that Global Future Of Work Survey: Three-quarters (76%) of responders said that learning and development programmes were already available to these staff or would be soon. They are no longer the outsiders.

4. Changing expectations

Today’s workers know that technological advances can afford greater flexibility and freedom in their employment. And the vast amount of information at their disposal means they are far savvier about the kinds of extra rewards the really top-level employers can offer. Increasingly globalised talent networks are creating competition at all levels and if you’re smart you can harness this to your advantage. Therefore, you have to think about your Employee Value Proposition – how you balance rewards and benefits in return for performance. Some of us argue that the ‘Employee Value Proposition’ should be further broadened into a ‘Worker Value Proposition’ to cater for the increasing use of no-employee talent.

The latter is a real problem for employers who, I’m afraid to say, are just not on it. I’m sorry to harp on about the Willis Towers Watson Global Future Of Work Survey, but it did show that an incredible 88% of employers are yet to reconfigure their benefit schemes in response to worker trends. This means the biggest talents – the workers who could transform their business – will almost certainly be looking elsewhere. After all, if you were a highly skilled tech professional looking for work, you would be looking for a competitive benefits package, right?

The future of trends

These are the current and emerging trends now, but who knows how long they will last. Or when the next wave of technology will completely change things once again. So keep monitoring the trends, and keep adapting strategy to suit them.

It’s the best way for any business – for your business – to stay ahead of the game.

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