4 Imperatives For The Future of Work

The war for talent is on. With unemployment at a 5 year low of 5%, companies are struggling to find, attract and retain talent. The problem no longer lies only within HR departments as 54% of business leaders say that these shortages will impact their ability to meet client needs. Effective hiring and talent management have become strategic imperatives.

Furthermore, external forces including the global economy, technology, society, the environment and demographics, are forcing businesses to change the way they get work done. Consider that in 2016 Millennials will be the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.  These 20-40 year old workers have vastly different perspectives and motivations than their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors.

With this in mind, I believe that winning companies will employ strategies to understand and adapt to these generational differences.  Specifically they will become more flexible, holistic, transparent, and global.

Flexible – It is no secret that telecommuting, freelancing, flexible work arrangements, distributed teams and even entirely virtual companies have exploded over the past few years. Technology is bringing the work to the workers, reversing the almost antiquated model of bringing workers to the work. Work will no longer be considered a place. Employers will meet their workers where they are, in a manner of their workers choosing. Additionally, the rise of entrepreneurial-minded millennials in the workforce has created a more on-demand culture – younger employees demand flexible hours and work-life balance. For businesses that want to bring in the right worker for the right job at the right time, they will need to be flexible in when and where the work takes place.

Holistic – In addition to employers being more flexible, millennial expert Michael Parrish Dudell notes that they will be looking to hire and retain flexible talent or “liquid talent”—employees who have the ability to cultivate a broad range of skills across a variety of departments and disciplines. As the economy continues to promote agility and Millennials advance into leadership roles, organizations will have to reimagine how and why they hire. Creating a workplace that embraces holistic growth will become one of the most effective ways to attract and retain superior talent.

Transparent – To stay competitive, businesses are moving faster than ever.  However, this “need for speed” has to be balanced with transparent process analysis if a business is going to be both fast and successful. The collection, analysis and sharing of data will be paramount in recruiting, hiring and managing teams.  Data science-driven HR will become an important way for companies to gauge the effectiveness of things like team structure, individual progress, collaboration tools, workflows and decision-making processes, and working relationships between team members. Sharing this data will allow all employees to get on board with objectives, processes and goals.

Global – The tremendous growth of online work has changed the way businesses hire talent and structure their workforces, allowing them to build teams that cross borders, time zones and skill sets. But it also yields opportunity for workers around the world to tap into global demand that far outpaces the needs of local or even national markets. This elimination of geographic boundaries will refresh perspectives and development in new and interesting ways. It also means that individuals have the freedom and the marketplace to choose which projects interest them most, as well as when, where, and how often to work.

The office has left the building, time clocks are being dismantled and the performance reviews are being replaced with scientific analyses of our behaviors and outcomes. To win the talent war in 2016 and beyond, businesses must view these shifts not as new battlefronts but as opportunities to gain strategic ground on a new frontier.

Gary Swart is an entrepreneur expert and a veteran of Silicon Valley.  He is credited with building the world’s largest online marketplace oDesk.

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