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Via LiveMint : The workplace of the future

Will the future workplace be ruled by technology or changing demographics? Will we have to be more cognizant about the changes in work culture?

What will the workplace of the future look like? Will it be ruled by technology or changing demographics? Will we have to be more cognizant about the changes in work culture? Will robots, chatbots, and artificial intelligence and virtual reality assistants work alongside the full-time, part-time, contingency, and gig workers?

What should we be prepared for, and what should we be concerned about?

Amid these questions, a certainty looms. Jobs are really not going anywhere. They are just evolving to the next levels. The question is: How high and different are those levels?

It is all about skills, not scale

Clearly, it is not about headcount any more. It is all about skills, not scale. This is the fundamental game changer of the future workplace. Revenue will be linked not to headcount, but to the right skills. The future will be “scale” for such skills. From my experience, I am convinced that clients will be willing to pay for better skills.

Get ready for skills ‘Uberization’

Millennials will rewrite both the demographics and patterns of working. Independent workers will significantly increase in number. In India, the estimated number of freelancers is more than 15 million—about 40% of the world’s freelance jobs.

Skills will be available on demand and connected to organizations by digital platforms. And if reports are to be believed, even CEO skills are set to be “Uberized”.

The World Economic Forum’s prediction in its report Future of Jobs says that 65% of children who enter primary school today will take up jobs that don’t exist yet. Furthermore, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be those that are not considered important today.

Technology will have a profound impact

Undoubtedly, rapidly advancing technologies are opening new windows of opportunity across business lines—robotic process automation, Big Data analytics, internet of things, augmented reality, machine learning, natural language processing, cloud and cybersecurity services. The upshot of this is that the bar on what seems “good enough” will keep constantly rising. In terms of what we call the workplace (where and when we choose to work, who will deliver the work, and how we deliver results), there will be profound changes. Digitalization will spread rapidly, as will automation.

We will continue to lose routine and repetitive jobs to machines—the ones that require no human intelligence and skills. We should be happy to let them go for the sake of increased productivity and efficiency. This is reality and we need to align strategies, business models and resources.

Most important, we should be upskilling our people.

Skill development, a critical imperative

Nasscom asserts that 60-70% of the existing workforce will need to be reskilled to meet future needs. It is heartening to note that as an industry, we are working together to create a comprehensive digital skilling platform to reskill 1.5-2 million people in the next four-five years.

Better collaboration between human resources, procurement, information technology and legal will help organizations to manage a successful blended workforce. Developing leadership skills of employees is equally critical. Organizations need leaders and managers who are ready for the demands of the future.

Work culture, the powerful glue for future workforce

Rewiring the cultural mindset in both organizations and professionals will be an imperative for tomorrow’s workplace. Holacracy (decentralized management) could well be the new operating system to redefine and redistribute control of work practices.

Employees need to be given the leeway to act more like entrepreneurs in self-directing their work. Work-life balance and “work-from-anywhere” are two realities to reckon with. Security teams need to create secure tech environs with advanced security analytics and machine learning—and without privacy conflicts.

In all, exciting times loom ahead. There is uncertainty, and there are challenges, too. But there are more than enough promise and possibilities for the industry to look ahead with confidence to the workplace and workforce of the future.

Via Chief Executive : How CEOs Can Drive Culture Change And Workplace Diversity

A diverse workplace — one that recognizes and respects all unique individuals across the business — is widely accepted as crucial to a successful organization. In its “Why Diversity Matters” report, workplace research firm McKinsey documents the higher financial performance by diverse companies across industries.

Yet, despite recent efforts, diversity remains a much-discussed topic — and not because companies are great at it. Take Google’s data-driven diversity program. It cost $265 million to implement but still failed to significantly change the composition of its workforce.

The critical missing link for many organizations is often strong CEO involvement. By putting their stamp on diversity initiatives as part of a proactive, robust strategy, CEOs can help their business leaders drive change from the top down. Here are four ways to make that happen.

Re-examine the workplace environment

To really tap into the benefits of diversity and inclusion, CEOs can encourage their organizations to look beyond traditional diversity categories. A workplace that fails to adapt to the needs of different age groups, personalities, individual qualities and work styles will likely find efficiency and performance suffer.

For example, many workplace environments are built around eye contact, noisy group work and generally overstimulating settings, from the interview process to long-term decision making. But these traditional workplace environments and routines may not encourage top performance from all types of workers.

If your company features an open plan environment, make sure you offer access to private work spaces, too. Consider how lighting and noisy distractions could impact individuals with autism or hyper-sensitive personalities. Encourage a company culture that values subtle collaborative practices — and be sure you model this behavior across your C-suite, too.

Learn from strengths and weaknesses

By opening the doors to nonlinear thinking, business leaders can maximize employees’ individual strengths and solve difficult problems. If nurtured in the right way, these skills are extremely valuable to a business.

For example, global giant EY implemented a pilot in 2016 to hire individuals with Asperger’s syndrome to help analyze the effectiveness of account operations and determine specific client needs. With a talent for detail-orientated and process-driven work, these employees demonstrated they could deliver results in an innovative and efficient way.

While it’s fine to set individual and highly specialized tasks, it’s still important to keep a collaborative element to roles. Encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback on other workplace projects to ensure everyone feels part of a team and no one becomes too isolated.

Promote flexibility and cater to individuals

Pioneering computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper once said the most dangerous phrase in data processing is “We’ve always done it this way.

The same could be said for any business. Hiding behind bureaucracy to deter employees from making requests for greater flexibility can be a major obstacle to achieving greater inclusion and diversity. And employees say that flexibility is highly important: A study by PGi found 70 percent of employees were more productive, 80 percent had higher morale and 82 percent had lower stress when allowed to telecommute.

Lead the charge to promote flexible policies with work-from-home options and encourage employees to use that time when they need it. This proactively demonstrates your company’s goal of supporting the varied needs of individuals.

Apply that same flexibility to rewarding staff when they excel. Happy hours or golf outings may work well for some employees but will leave others flat. Working parents might not be able to arrange child care after work or on the weekends, for instance. Would your star performer prefer a few bonus days off? Early release days? A team breakfast or lunch?

Test alternative recruiting strategies

The cost of losing an employee can range from thousands of dollars to more than twice the employee’s annual salary. These costs include hiring, training, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover and higher business error rates. That’s why it’s vital to invest in finding the right employees for your company.

However, the personalities of some individuals may run counter to common notions of what makes a good employee. Concentrating only on conventional benchmarks — such as solid communication skills, teamwork and the ability to network — may systematically screen out individuals with unique gifts.

Talk with your HR leaders to discuss ways you can adapt hiring policies to encourage diversity. In some cases, it might be more effective to conduct interviews virtually, since some candidates may interview better in familiar surroundings.

Or as Microsoft found, sometimes it’s better not to hold traditional interviews at all. Adapting the structure of its interview process was a key action the company took in its bid to attract colleagues with autism. Instead of a traditional interviewing process, candidates were invited on campus for two weeks to work on projects, while being casually monitored by managers looking for new team members.

Companies that emphasize a flexible, inclusive workplace culture will find it easier to attract and keep top talent — employees who feel supported to realize their full potential. That ultimately leads to business innovation, growth and profit — top of the wish list for CEOs the world over.

Via Benefits Pro : How automation will impact the next generation of work

Artificial intelligence, data analytics and other emerging automated technologies are not only going to impact low-wage workers, but also highly compensated executives and other professionals – and employers should be helping them to prepare now for the digital New World, according to Guardian’s report, “The Next Generation of Work.”

Most workers shouldn’t fear their jobs will become obsolete, though – only about 5 percent of all jobs will be phased out entirely due to automation, according to the report. However, most jobs will continue to change and workers will be redeployed, and to remain viable, workers will need to beef up their skills in creativity, collaboration and communication.

That will take workers learning more specialized skills — but to date, many have not and hence, they risk becoming less valued in their current work environment, according to the report. A minority of working Americans have taken on a new role at their current employer (23 percent), been cross-trained (18 percent), made a career change (12 percent) or returned to school for further education (11 percent).

“A more technology-enabled workplace is creating a widening gap between the skills employees possess and the skills employers require,” the authors write. “Job openings increasingly are in occupations that require higher-level social or analytic skills; physical or manual skills are fading somewhat in importance.”

Some of the strategies that Guardian recommends for employers to adapt to an increasingly digitized workplace include modernizing the workforce by reinventing the recruiting, hiring and training processes; closing existing skills gaps and building competencies in business technology, communication, writing and problem-solving; enabling the organization to anticipate and respond to on-demand talent needs, or to secure specific skills required to remain competitive in the evolving workplace; adapting workplace strategies for the millions of working Americans (many of them millennials) who embrace a new work paradigm and choose flexible or remote work arrangements and non-traditional career paths; and implementing a change management strategy that enables the organization — from top to bottom — to overcome barriers to success in a more automated and digital world.

Other study highlights include:

  • Twice as many businesses expect total employment to increase (38 percent) in the next five years compared to those anticipating downsizing (16 percent). Jobs will continue to change and workers will be re-deployed and require skills in creativity, collaboration and communication.
  • Millennials are more likely to embrace opportunities to acquire new skills, such as taking on a new role, cross-training, making a career change or returning to school. Gen Xers, who still have 10 to 25 years before retirement, are less likely to have taken steps to improve skills. One in five Baby Boomers would retire when faced with significant work/job changes.
  • Nearly four in ten employers indicate that staffing (including recruiting, hiring and training) is a top business challenge for their organization.
  • One in five U.S. companies expect an increase in their agile workforce in the coming five years as younger generations lean toward non-traditional employment arrangements, flexible schedules, part-time/contingent and non-permanent positions.

Via Forbes : 5 Powerful Ways To Confront Change In The Workplace

The American workplace is changing at a rapid pace that’s rarely been seen before. New technologies, combined with an influx of millions of millennials into the workforce, means change is inevitable.

Are you prepared to handle it?

Change is Inevitable

As they say, the only constant in life is change. The business world is the perfect example of this, where technology, ideas, and theories are continually evolving. At times, all of this uncertainty can be overwhelming, but you can’t let it frustrate you. Change is what ultimately drives growth, so you have to be willing to accept it.

“Humans are programmed to like certainty. We’ve all had times where something that ‘should’ have happened doesn’t and we all know that feeling of annoyance that creeps up. If what happens is something we really didn’t want, well, annoyance blows into anger for some,” says James Kessick of Netpicks, a trading platform that helps traders deal with uncertainty.

But why do we get annoyed by change? Kessick says it happens because we, as humans, love the illusion of control. “Look around you – the human race has devised an infinite number of devices and contraptions with the idea of controlling the previously uncontrollable.”

Until you recognize that change is going to happen, and get over the frustration that comes with it, you won’t be able to effectively manage your business. This isn’t to say change is no longer problematic after you learn to accept it, but it does become easier to deal with.

5 Tips for Managing Change in the Workplace

From a management and leadership perspective, managing change is a major challenge. Not only is technology advancing at a rapid pace, but the infusion of millennials into the workplace means ideologies and approaches are changing. There’s an entirely new perspective on what work entails and the role people and businesses play in carrying out particular tasks.

1. Prepare for Multiple Outcomes

It’s impossible to know what the future holds. The very nature of change is such that you can’t predict or control what happens. Having said that, the best thing you can do is stop trying to guess what will happen. Instead, you should place as many small bets as you can on a variety of different outcomes. While you’ll miss on some of them, the idea is that the change you do account for will ultimately benefit you more. By preparing for multiple outcomes in a scenario, you’re essentially hedging your bets. You’re ensuring that you don’t get caught in a situation where you’re unprepared or unable to move.

For example, let’s say you’re currently dealing with the idea of flexible work scheduling. Instead of suddenly allowing all of your employees to work from home whenever the please, it would be smarter to experiment with some different options. Let certain employees work from home once a week and others full-time. Then, let another group try flex scheduling, where they can choose the hours they come into the office. Some of these techniques will prove ineffective, but the fact that you’re accounting for multiple outcomes in the short-term ensures you’ll be able to find the best outcome in the long run.

2. Quiet Your Limbic System

Are you familiar with the limbic system? According to entrepreneur Travis Bradberry, “The limbic system responds to uncertainty with a knee-jerk fear reaction, and fear inhibits good decision-making. People who are good at dealing with uncertainty are wary of this fear and spot it as soon as it begins to surface. In this way, they can contain it before it gets out of control.”

Fear is a big part of change. Once you’re able to deal with the fear component of the equation, your decision making will naturally become more rational and calculated.

3. Get Over the Pursuit of Perfection

How many mistakes do you think you make on a daily basis? Five? Ten? Fifteen? Between little things and big responsibilities, we’re all making a handful of mistakes on a daily basis. According to research, the average person will make 773,618 decisions in a lifetime. Of those decisions, 143,262 – or nearly 20 percent – will be regrets. In other words, you aren’t going to be perfect – not even for a day.

The sooner you get over the notion that you can or should be perfect, change will come easier. You’ll put less pressure on yourself and be more willing to confront the challenges and decisions that await you.

4. Prioritize People Over Processes

Having processes in place can help you deal with change, just as certain mathematical equations can be used to help mathematicians solve unique problems. But ultimately, an equation can only do so much. The same is true of business processes. You can have processes in place to handle unique challenges, but it’s the people behind these processes that matter most.

When confronted with change, a computer program or piece of software is only going to do so much for you. You really need to have strong relationships with people you can trust. Together, you can use your collective knowledge, experience, and creativity to tackle these new issues. Prioritize people over processes and you’ll be better off almost every time.

5. Know Your Limits

As previously mentioned, you’re human and can’t be perfect. Once you realize this, you’re free to confront the fact that you have limitations. Recognizing your limits isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s a sign of self-awareness. When you know what you can and can’t do, you’re able to hand off certain responsibilities and processes to other people who are better prepared to handle a specific element of change. It can be humbling to do this, but it’s usually what’s best for the company.

For Best Results, Confront Change Head-On

The American workplace isn’t going to stop changing. If anything, it’ll evolve at an even faster rate moving forward. Naturally, your tendency will be to retreat. The status quo is much more comfortable and the majority of people prefer to keep things as is. You can’t resist change forever, though. At some point, change becomes inevitable and no business is immune.

The smartest thing you can do is confront change head-on. Picture yourself as a kick returner handling a kickoff in a football game. If you catch the ball, stand there, and wait for the kicking team to reach you, you’re going to get hurt. You may even fumble the ball and give it to the opposition with good field position. However, if you catch the ball and start running full speed ahead towards the kicking team, you have more options. Even if you aren’t able to evade the defenders, you’ll at least be able to hit back and deflect some of the force.

Change is scarier when you stand still. There’s something about moving towards it that gives you some semblance of control. As you deal with change in your business, remember to take action and do your best to set yourself up for success.

Via Business Daily :  Future of workplace with Generation Z knocking

In the next year or two, the workplace faces an unprecedented situation where for the first time, due to the fact that we’re all living longer, five generations may be working side by side: Veterans (pre-World War II); the Baby Boomers (World War II – 1960s); Generation X (mid-60s – late 1970s); Millennials (aka Generation Y) (1979 – 1991); and last, but not least, the largely unknown factor: Generation Z, born after 1992.

It’s estimated that there are more than two billion of Gen Z worldwide. In Africa, a third of the population is under the age of 21.

It may be too soon to be definitive about the characteristics of this generation, but they are said to be realistic, cause- and value-driven, entrepreneurial, financially prudent, and have boundless curiosity.

This is the first generation born into a fully technological environment — a world of being connected, being digital, and having mobile phones or tablets as a matter of course. They’re therefore more advanced in searching for information and figuring things out on their own.

It’s said that Generation Z will have jobs that have not even been created yet. But that’s not the only thing we aren’t sure of. Although there’s some indication of who they are and the influences shaping them, their characters are still forming and their role in the workplace is yet to take shape.

And, let’s face it: organisations are still struggling to analyse the challenge that Millennials pose in the workplace. These include fitting in with organisational culture, their communication style preferences and negative stereotypes of each generation. All these need to be managed in the workplace.

What exactly are they going to do when Generation Z arrives?

Business as usual

Popular wisdom argues for a fairly predictable set of approaches — all of which are wise. And increasingly people are understanding that while there are important differences between generations, they can be complementary and there is a significant opportunity for both ends of the age spectrum to learn from each other.

Listed staffing agency Robert Half asked chief financial offices where the biggest differences (and therefore opportunities for learning) lay between generations in the workplace. Thirty per cent said “communication skills”, 26 per cent said “adapting to change”, 23 per cent said “technical skills”, 14 per cent said “cross-departmental collaboration”, and seven per cent noted “no differences”.

The gist of tried and tested approaches is to encourage collaboration between generations; facilitate mentoring; allow for a cross-pollination of knowledge, where older employees share their experience, and younger employees contribute technological know-how, newer techniques and innovation.

It has also been well argued that managers should take the lead in adapting their management style rather than expecting staff to change.

The crucial bridge

But just how different will Generation Z really be? The Millennials (aka Generation Y) has been described more than once as “Generation X on steroids”. All indications are that Generation Z will take this up a notch.

Emma Davies, human resources manager for South African construction company ALEC, says the organisation has already experienced this to some extent with work experience students:

They are a very politically aware generation, and they have been taught to question everything, but to do so respectfully. The toddler stage of asking ‘why?’ does not end!

Both inside and outside the workplace, listening skills, patience, tolerance and humility will become more and more crucial for older generations. And two-way mentorship will become even more important than it has been with Millennials.

Generation Y has already pointed to some important changes that need to happen. Because they want involvement and feedback and are generally outspoken they have played a role in creating a more inclusive workplace as teamwork has become central to their work life.

This will be a crucial tool in making the most of the skills of Generation Z. This, combined with their strong communication skills and self-awareness, will emphasise the importance of teamwork.

These integration skills may prove crucial in helping to manage Generation Zs. Millennials, in this sense, may function as a bridge. This isn’t to say it will all be plain sailing, even if older employees are patient and ready to learn from the youngsters.

Generation Y and Z’s desire for connectedness and relationships on the part can be used for more successful mentorships. A desire for learning could also help alleviate tension with Generation Xs, Baby Boomers and Veterans, who may otherwise experience them as disrespectful or arrogant.

Focus on the similarities

But stereotyping needs to be avoided. South African organisations are very familiar with the effects that negative racial stereotyping can have on teams and productivity.

They need to guard against the same thing happening with different generations. By fixating on minor differences and taking them out of context, and by failing to appreciate similarities, organisations could be missing an opportunity.

More than that, the differences between generations might be smaller than we think. Research from the University of North Carolina showed that Millennials want the same things as Generation X and Baby Boomers: challenging, meaningful work; opportunities for learning, development and advancement; support to successfully integrate work and personal life; fair treatment and competitive compensation.

And all three generations agreed on the characteristics of an ideal leader — a person who leads by example, is accessible, acts as a coach and mentor, helps employees see how their roles contribute to the organisation, and challenges others and holds them accountable.

The chances are, Generation Z won’t be too far off this mark either.