Six Trends to Catch to Meet the Future of Work

Professional woman talking to diverse group of colleagues

by K. David Hirschey 

Disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things, robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live and work. They are creating seismic social and economic shifts in politics, business, and the culture at large. In short, they are transforming the world.

The rapid adoption of these technologies is directly challenging current and future organizations to remain contemporary and viable. How are you and your organization adapting to these new realities?

Organization development and human resources specialist K. David Hirschey describes six trends organization leaders can catch to meet the future of work.

K. David Hirschey

1. Unstructured and Dynamic Environments
Faced with all of these technological changes, businesses will need to adapt to stay relevant. Organizations should strive for more flexible and dynamic organizational structures, abandoning hierarchical configurations, so they may respond more quickly to changes in their markets. Successful organizations are arranging around nimble work teams which are set up quickly, work together for a specific undertaking, and then move on to other projects within the operation. 

2. Continuous Learning

An employee’s career may last from four to forty years! Taking into account the speed of technological advancement, how can we prepare ourselves for the unforeseeable changes to come in the next few decades? The answer is to have a continuous learning mindset. We can no longer satisfy ourselves with obtaining a degree and basing our future career on what we learn during those years. The new definition of a career is a journey of continuous learning. To keep employees current with ongoing skills needs, organizations are taking advantage of more flexible and curated learning models that can be used in real time, all the time. Companies are adapting their learning management systems to this continuous learning revolution by incorporating microlearning, certification programs, videos, mobile content, and game-based learning.

3. Valuing Diversity and Inclusion
As organizations strive to become more global, more digital, and more transparent, the issue of true, broad-based employee inclusion cannot be overestimated. Many stakeholders—employees in particular—attach increasing importance to these principles. Consumers, and the public in general, have become more exacting in their demands for respect for cultural diversity and gender equality (e.g., rethinking sexual harassment abatement training). Leaders who champion true inclusion among employees will not only make their organizations more efficient, innovative, and productive, they will also improve their brand image and reputation.  

4. Improved Employee Contribution and Performance Evaluations
Education, work experience, tenure, personality traits, and relationships are no longer the primary assessment factors of performance evaluations. There has been a shift toward faster and more flexible evaluation models. Contemporary managers are looking for new appraisal models based on well-defined objectives, competencies, and continuous feedback; progressive organizations are experimenting with new ways to review, reward, and recognize employee contributions.

5. Positive Employee Experiences 
Leaders are working to develop and maintain a unique organizational culture; improve employee engagement; stay abreast of the demands of the new, diversified workforce; and offer better learning opportunities to employees. The quest to enhance the employee experience—from recruitment through retirement—will involve improving employee satisfaction, enhancing the company’s brand (in an increasingly demanding and saturated marketing environment), and facilitating the transition toward a more dynamic, agile, and flexible organizational model.

6. Synergy of People and Technology
New technologies pose a variety of challenges for organizations such as identifying the kinds of jobs that can be enhanced or replaced by technology versus jobs that should be performed by people. While some organizations may be worried about the negative impact of the technological revolution, they should see it as an opportunity: combining workers and machines (which some people call the “augmented workforce”) will create new jobs, boost productivity, and allow workers to focus on the creative and human aspects of work.

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K. David Hirschey is the principal of Personnel Management and instructs a variety of courses for the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies, including Manage Performance and Develop Talent, Measure Training Results, and Workforce Talent Assessment and Planning. For a full list and more about Hirschey, see his bio.