The needs of a new generation of workers and evolving technologies are just some of the challenges the workplace of the 2020s will encounter.
There are many discussions on how to make a new start in the next decade. The year 2020 comes on the cusp of many workplace challenges. The most noted ones of the last decade are pay equality for women, fairness and inclusion, the broadening of diversity as it relates to sexual orientation and the talent war. They are not new challenges, just ones we continue to encounter as part of the effort to make progress. What can we expect in 2020? Much of the same along with a few more impacts to the workplace.
The workplace has included the use of technology for at least the last 20 years. However, digitizing the workspace is a part of most large organizations’ strategic plans for the next 5 years. As leaders, the alignment of technology, employees and business processes to improve efficiency and meet company goals directly impacts success. Managers are challenged to get the employees engaged in the process when, in some instances, the strategy impacts their role. There is another perspective to consider. The digitalization of the workplace will call for a decentralized workforce. This will increase the number of remote workers, use of video and dependency on the cloud.
In previous years the focus was on employee engagement. With the increase of millennials and Gen Y/Z entering the workforce, the way we work continues to change. They are the drivers of an evolution in the employee experience. These workers have a need to connect with their employers through a focus on shared purpose. Employers will need to continue to share the bigger picture and be more transparent with employees rather than focusing mainly on customer needs.
AI is tied heavily to technology. There should be a separate focus here to drive the importance it will have on business decisions and automation. Here are a few other major impacts AI will bring:
Relying upon a single skill set will no longer be sufficient in the workplace. Employees will need to expand their abilities and become more creative and multifunctional as it relates to data. Data training, literacy and interpretation skills will be needed from the workforce.
When it comes to their role as consumers, the younger generation displays far different expectations. They expect a short or immediate response time. Customer service and response time are severally impacted by AI. The workplace must be positioned to meet this demand which is correlated to productivity.
From generation to generation there are significant gaps in leadership capabilities. The shift occurring from the second largest generation going towards retirement is one of the key contributors to this gap. The need to expedite the succession plan or the challenges to source the hard to fill positions directly impacts the leadership role. Employees are promoted before organizations can develop them for the people management demands of the job. The lack of leadership skills hinders them in effectively leading and inspiring their employees, managing their teams and driving change. To be successful, employers will need to make a major investment in management training.
The need for more meaningful work is one of the top factors the next generation workforce uses to select its next gig. Where they work must integrate with their personal values and views. The interrelationship of work and life has the potential to become one big blurred line. As the company culture changes to be more socially responsible inside and outside the workplace, we’ll see a global effort to make the world a better place.
The need for social responsibility is one part of the next generation’s passion. An inclusive workplace is just as important. The need to be seen and accepted as an individual is also crucial. This leads to the rise of unconscious bias as people’s views and beliefs are challenged by the freedom of others to express opposing ones. The workplace is not excluded from the exposure of these challenges. There is need for employees to feel valued and accepted without conforming to previous norms.
Employers will find themselves addressing a new set of challenges. The approach will require every area and level of an organization to operate with these new perspectives. The company or organization will be responsible for ensuring that compliance training occurs, that management training is a top priority and that the way they approach work takes all the mentioned perspectives into consideration. The strategic plan, goals and business operations take these workplace trends into account—aligning the business at every level to ensure success.