The Changing World of Work

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So what will the future of work look like?  Recruitment Futurist, Kevin Wheeler from the Future of Talent Institute, delivered a keynote speech at the Australasian Talent Conference 2012 to address that question.

The key theme from the presentation was that the rules of business have changed, the economy has changed, but most organisations have not.  The new realities of what workers expect from their work life has shifted from traditional Baby Boomer values such as waiting for opportunities within an organisation, and the fundamental respect afforded to ‘company men’, to a dynamic and integrated balance with other life ambitions.

Five key changes in how people are viewing work are:

  • Meaning: People want their work to make a difference
  • Methodical: Grabbing opportunities when they can and moving when they need to.
  • Experience: Being in a good environment and working with good people
  • Dreams: People have money, but they want to live their dreams
  • Control: Giving people choice so that they are in control

Basically, life is short and people want to work somewhere awesome.

Kevin places the reason behind these changes to the shift in the population structure – less people are getting married, and Australia in particular is not replacing its population. People are having fewer children, are not investing in owning their own properties, and have more free time.  They want their work to integrate into this lifestyle, and employers will need to react to the changing demographics of the societies they operate in.

Young people are placing an increasing amount of value of sustainability – they are entrepreneurs and they have big dreams to grow up doing something meaningful. Kevin reports interviews with Gen Y’s where none of them wanted to work for a corporate, and sought to work only 40 hour weeks. Can employers afford to keep accusing the young generation of laziness, or is it time to accommodate the increasingly restless and unsatisfied future workforce?

Employers will need to learn to understand youth: they will need to get a grip on how they want to be engaged with and what they want from their careers. Young people live in a transparent world – they feel comfortable with having an online presence and expect to engage businesses and employers via social media channels. Employers can afford to be bold when communicating with their future workforce outside of traditional channels like company websites and job boards. Engage their brains to turn them on to new employment opportunities, and engage them where they are. Don’t always expect them to come to you!

What can we expect in 2013?

Mobile – Smart devices are increasingly affordable and have very high adoption rates. Users expect content designed for smaller screens and optimised for mobile usage.
Graphics – A decrease in written job descriptions and job ads. Employers will need to use media that people are comfortable with and engage them visually (take a look at these 117 creative job ads )
Video – Everything should be in video and accessible via mobile devices.

In 2013 and 2014, focus on:
Relationships and customer experiences – people want you to make them happy
Being authentic – personalise and build relationships

Kevin capped off his address by summarising that for Gen Y & Z, it’s all about:

  • Imagery and graphics
  • Social networks
  • Relationships

Savvy employers will be open to the changing world of work, and they will mitigate these changes by being flexible enough to adapt their future recruitment strategies to engage with this new breed of Career Seekers.

To find out more about the Changing World of Work, contact Kathy McCombe on



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