As we covered in this seminal post on Workforce Success, where and how we work is changing rapidly. This is driven by three seismic changes happening in parallel:
50% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020;
75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025;
The way we consume information and communicate has fundamentally changed with the advent of the smartphone
What does this mean for businesses and what do they have to do to future proof themselves in this new context? That’s what we’ll address here and we’ll start by providing a bit more background to each of the changes listed above.
The new normal: A deskless, tech savvy millennial workforce
A majority of the working population don’t sit behind a desk. 2.7 bn people are in fact deskless.
In the UK, the number of people estimated to work in the gig economy is 5 million! That's more than 15 per cent of the total full and part-time workforce. Imagine - one in six jobs in the UK are in the gig economy. What’s behind this enormous growth? The main driver is technology, which has enabled people to work from any location, collaborate and interact and produce services without being a salaried employee in the traditional sense. On-demand companies like Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo are now a natural part of making our lives more convenient.
The demographic of the workforce is being turned upside down. 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials in just a few years and not only do they think and appreciate other things than the generation before them, they have grown up doing things differently.
This generation values learning and development very highly - in fact, it’s one of their top priorities when choosing where to work and whether to stay! Moreover, 81% of millennials state that self-paced learning will be important to help them perform their best.
The way we consume information and communicate has radically changed with the advent of the smartphone. Mobile is the fastest growing technology in human history. There are 4 bn. smartphone users in the world and they outnumber PCs 2.5x.
According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, We check our phones every 12 minutes of the waking day, which roughly equates to 150 times per day! And that’s based on the average adult use, which is less than millennials…
The challenges facing modern companies
As outlined above, jobs are shifting into non-traditional industries. To positions that are not desk-based. We’ve got a shorter attention spans but more information to take in. Deloitte research shows that employees take less than 25 minutes of time to actually slow down and learn on a weekly basis. The people working are also different with new priorities and ways of doing things.
Whilst this is happening, there’s an ever increasing need to up-skill and re-skill people to stay competitive and to ensure that company objectives are met.
There’s a barrage of information and a need to surface the most important and relevant information from the noise that surrounds us. And this information has to be very accessible at the point of need and serve short attention spans through short-form content in an engaging way that fits with the way we work and consume information.
Your workforce expects that their 9-5 should look more like their 5-9 (i.e. leisure time) when it comes to seamless, effortless experience, largely enabled by technology.
It’s important to recognise that your workforce’s B2C experiences (on-demand food delivery, streaming music etc) influence their B2B expectations (how you as a company deliver your services to them). Why should that be any less convenient and accessible?
Doing nothing will cost you. Dearly…
What happens if you have employees that are unengaged with your company, your products? They are lacking in job enthusiasm and not offering their best for your customers.
Put simply – if you are not doing your best for them, they are not doing their best for you.
According to Gallup, 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged at work. Productivity and profitability often suffers as a result. The opposite is also true: in businesses with highly engaged teams, Gallup also found that profitability increased by 21%, sales productivity by 20%, output quality by 40%, and absenteeism went down by 41%. Think what those statistics can translate to in revenue.
In a Dale Carnegie and MSW study, companies with engaged employees outperformed others by up to 202%.
A study by Workplace Research Foundation run over a number of years found that a 10% increase in investment on employee engagement could increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year, and that increased employee motivation resulted in a higher share price.
Workforce Success: the way to future-proof your business
Faced with these facts what is the appropriate response from companies that want to future-proof their business? How do you empower your changing workforce so that they can access the information they need and acquire the skills required to perform at their best - regardless of where they perform their job?
Starting with learning opportunities, let’s rule out reliance on face to face interaction, which is not attainable at scale. Putting people in front of traditional, clunky and boring eLearning - that’s not engaging and doesn’t actually deliver real knowledge retention - is a thing of the past.
When it comes to communicating with your modern workforce, emails are not accessible by everyone in the new types of jobs created and suffer from low engagement; and popular tools like WhatsApp don’t scale and they are ineffective at organising information or check for knowledge retention.
By now, just about everyone is familiar with the concept of Customer Success, which is the function managing the relationship between a vendor and its customers. The goal of Customer Success is to ensure that customers achieve their desired outcomes using your product or service.
Similarly, the goal of Workforce Success is to ensure that your workforce is empowered with the knowledge they require to be successful in their job.
You have to provide learning opportunities and relevant information at the point of need. Josh Bersin, the world’s most influential HR analyst calls the learning part here “Learning in the flow of work”.
Research shows that short-form learning content results in 20% higher information retention and it fits into busy schedules with lots of starts/stops.
Providing highly accessible and engaging up-skilling opportunities coupled with the ability to surface relevant information at the appropriate time will empower your workforce to perform at their best. It will motivate and engage. You’ll be able to build a sense of community and build your culture. This will breed loyalty and productivity.