The changing workforce
Where and how we work is evolving rapidly. This is being driven by three seismic changes, happening in parallel:
The contingent workforce is growing. 80% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020.
Shifting workforce demographics. 64% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials and Gen Z by 2025.
The evolution of smartphone technology. The way we consume information and communicate has fundamentally changed with the advent of the smartphone.
What does this mean for your company’s need and ability to ensure that your workforce is equipped to deliver their best?
Before we answer that question, let’s take a closer look at each of these major changes in a bit more detail.
Deskless workers are on the rise
Where we work is changing - fast. Soon, 80% of the global workforce will be working remotely for at least part of their time.
Did you know the majority of the working population don’t sit behind a desk? 2.7 bn people are in fact deskless.
One part of the “alternative” distributed workforce (i.e. non-typical salaried employees) is made up of freelancers. New research shows that freelance workers may comprise as much as half of the U.S. workforce by the year 2027.
In Europe, freelancers are the fastest-growing segment of the employment market, with the number doubling between 2000 and 2014. The growth in freelancing is outpacing employment growth in the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands.
Another study found that almost all of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.
The Economist published a thought-provoking article a while ago about the rise of the gig economy and what it would be like if there were no jobs anymore. The general gist was that jobs at McDonalds would be 100% outsourced - you have to bid for them on TaskRabbit, the service platform connecting you to so called Taskers, who perform jobs and errands for you!
The media headline would then be: “The First Fortune 500 Company With No Employees”. Whilst this is a tongue in cheek suggestion, it's an uncontested fact that a rapidly growing number of the workforce no longer fit under the traditional employee label.
McKinsey released a report a couple of years ago, which found that more than 160 million people in Europe and the United States — equivalent to 20-30 per cent of the working-age population— were engaged in some form of independent work.
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? Well, the main reason 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. If you think about it for a moment and reflect upon the people you meet or interact with during an average week, how many of those would actually fall into this category? On-demand companies like Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo are now a natural part of making our lives more convenient.
More Millennials in the workplace
The demographics of the workforce are being turned upside down. What percentage of the millennials make up the workforce? By 2025, it’s estimated that Millennials (people born 1981 and later) and Gen Z will collectively make up 64% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials 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!
43% of millennials expect to leave their jobs within 2 years and according to Deloitte, 73% of young professionals who plan to stay with their employers for more than 5 years say their organisations are strong providers of education and training. This is because the role of employer as educator continues to take on significance and can’t be ignored.
Among those millennials who would willingly leave their employers within the next two years, 62% regard the gig economy as a viable alternative to full-time employment. Why? The promise of a higher income, with increased flexibility and freedom. Moreover, 81% of millennials state that self-paced learning will be important to help them perform their best.
The evolution of smartphones
Which brings us to the third point. Smartphones rule the world - 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…
From the same report we find that two in five adults (40%) first look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65% of those aged under 35, while 37% of adults check their phones five minutes before lights out, again rising to 60% of under-35s.
Employees have less time and shorter attention spans
So, jobs are shifting into non-traditional industries. To positions that are not desk-based. We’ve got a shorter average 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 upskill and reskill employees to stay competitive and to ensure that company objectives are met.
Easier access to information is required
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?
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.
Introducing Workforce Success
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 - it’s 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.
The time has come for Workforce Success, which empowers every single person part of your workforce to perform at their very best.
eduMe is a Workforce Success platform used by modern companies across 6 continents to train, inform and engage their remote workforce. By having effective learning and relevant information on-demand at their point of need, the workforce at our partner companies like Uber, goPuff, Deliveroo, Vodafone and Deloitte are empowered to perform at their very best.
Are you ready to join Uber, goPuff and others, and step into the future of work?
Pop your details in and we’ll give you a quick, no strings attached tour of eduMe. 👇