The Future of Work: How Employers Must Prepare in 2022

future work

Work is no longer what it used to be; there is a changing paradigm and it affects every sector, industry and every aspect of the corporate world. Whether small or big, none is left out. There has been a massive increase in the level of technological advancement between the 20th and 21st century and this is not limited to the tech world alone but affects so many other areas, changing the way in which many organizations now carry our their activities and reducing the need for human involvement.

With the global trends in recent times, especially with the worldwide pandemic that keeps evolving daily, it is certain as well that the normus changing yet again as organizations shift from the regular working pattern to explore other possibilities such as hybrid work all in a bid to ensure survival and continued success.

Combining all these changes, it really will not be long before many of the tasks being performed in present day would become fully automsted. 2022 is that year where more disruptive innovations are unveiled and many organizations are rising up to the challenge. Changes are bring made to job requirements, some positions entirely scrapped and new ones created to fit into the unique system of each company.

With the constant evolving, it is imperative, therefore, for employers to keep themselves abreast of such changes and adapt as required. Cognizance needs to be taken of the trends affecting now and the future, and plans made ahead to easily fit into such changes.

Trends in various sectors and industries

There are various transformations taking place across many sectors and these need to be closely monitored by organizations and employers of labour to note how it affects their success, morale of their staff, profitability, cost of running and many other areas. Some of the trends in some sectors are discussed below.

Manufacturing

There has been rapid development in how products are manufactured. Organizations in this sector constantly have to adapt to changing technologies. One of such is the advent of the 3D printing machines that have aided the rapid recreation of equipment. This however requires a certain level of expertise and most employers will find that there would be an increase in their investments in their employees if they are to be able to recruit the right talents.

Automation is also another vital aspect of this sector. Many organizations were already embracing automated machines prior to the pandemic. With the increased risk of infection, and the struggle to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its many variants, more companies are shifting to automation and there is barely any need for human efforts with most of these machines allowing for remote control. There is even still the possibility of a reduction in need for labour in the physical maintenance of the machines. Employers are more in need of strategies to keep up with the change.

Healthcare

Remote healthcare has been in existence prior to now. It however gained more prominence during the pandemic as there was limited access to health infrastructures and doctors. Most individuals turned to the internet and the limited number of healthcare software available at the time, with about 48% of physicians in the US stating they treated patients virtually during the covid period as against 18%  of them in 2018. With the certainty that circumstances will not be changing anytime soon, and the fact that many consumers are now much more comfortable with obtaining health services virtually, there would be a reduced need for the physical position, while expert skills will be required.

Organizations that also specialize in the production of wearables for monitoring health will also require more skilled talents in programming such gadgets. Employers would need to combine technology and knowledge of their staff together effectively, to ensure maximum productivity. They would also need to keep up with the boost in business by constantly generating newer ideas and strategies. This sector is also influencing the level of priority placed on employee wellness as it has developed the means whereby organizations are able to properly monitor the health of workers to prevent burnout.

Education

The use of AI in aiding learning is gaining grounds fast. There has been an upsurge in the number of online schools and courses available to learn from. This means that employees will no longer find it difficult to obtain certifications and skills to enable them to deliver well in the right setting. According to a report by Coursera, its users reached 189 million in 2021, signalling that more people are recognizing the need to augment professional and non-professional skills. This will further increase the competitiveness of organizations in attracting the best talents and give more leverage and power to the employees. 

Finance

The finance industry is among the leading industries in the use of technology and digital softwares. Fintech companies are gaining more visibility everyday. The fast adapting from traditional banking involving physical buildings to banks without branches and virtual banks has made it easier for employers to cope with the changes brought about by the pandemic. Remuneration of staff is relatively easy and organizations are able to cut down on some banking-related expenses. This however requires that an organization be at the forefront of the use of technology or it would have a hard time navigating the world of internet banking.

Specific to the finance sector, as a result of increased automation, is the need for less people to work behind machines and computers in different organizations. What is the urgent requirement there now is talents with enough skill to supply trusted solutions to financial problems that cannot be handled by pure algorithm or models.

Customer service

In the past, customer care services comprised of employees who were constantly responding to the needs and requests of different categories of customers. In recent times, there has been the embrace of the use of chatbots, which are basically AI programmes to interact with and respond to the query of users. This has reduced the need for human staff and communication skills in this regard. However, communication and interpersonal skills are still very much relevant to employers of labour, especially where teamwork is a must. Where employees cannot be totally removed from the communication front, the use of AI to improve the connection has been of tremendous advantage to organizations as it has helped boost the efficiency of such processes.

All these trends discussed above have had diverse effects on how work is being done presently and how it will be done in the future. There shall be further discussion on salient areas of employment and workplace Culture and environment that will change the future of work and how organizations can prepare for such a future in 2022.

Some Important Stats and facts

  • About 44% of people around the world believe that the most important aspect of a job is the security it offers.
  • Technological advancement will continue to have a huge impact on how we work, even 10 years from now.
  • There are different opinions by different categories of employees and employees on what would have the biggest impact on work in the next ten years, including increasing need for environmental and economic efficiency, work-life balance necessities, and the need for diversified careers and organizations.
  • Traditional employment is gradually fading away, as skills sell faster than resumes now.
  • More than 50% of employers and managers believe that working in an office increases the performance of workers.
  • Organizations will fight to recruit and keep the best talents with the increased mobility of employees. This means human resource will most likely constantly be under pressure.
  • Employers will begin to value the input and opinions of their workers more. Ethics and values will be placed above profits eventually.
  • Employees and customers will begin to hold more power in dictating the direction organizations will take. This, however, will still not impede some large corporations from taking center stage.

Areas influencing the future of work and how employers can be prepared

Inclusivity and diversity

The workplace has become a place that showcases the uniqueness of individuals from different walks of life. In a typical organization, one might find Indians, Africans, whites and other people from other countries and cultures working together. Diversity also includes the gender makeup of an organization. Nowadays, one would find that women can now occupy positions that were originally given to only men.

Gradually, organizations are deleting from resumes, information that they feel might lead to bias in the recruitment process such as nationality, age, gender, race, religion and even grades. It is now more focused on having a workforce that is diverse in every way. This change precludes the increase in innovations and unique concepts that has will lead to the advancement of many organizations.

A diverse workforce creates the issue of inclusiveness. How involved do the employers allow the workers to be in the company? Do they create an atmosphere where everyone feels needed and valued for their opinions? More than employing people from across the globe, it is essential for an organization to find a balance in how employees are treated within the organization. Areas that employers need to take note of that can result in inclusivity bias include wages, work flexibility, bonuses and compensations paid to new or existing staff, etc. Employers should ensure that performance evaluation and rewards are merit-based and not based on the biases of managers or top executives.

Remote working/hybrid work

The pandemic has led to a lot of changes in how work is expected to be carried out and where. Prior to 2020, most organizations believed that having employees work from a central location or in an office setting motivated and increased their performance. However, in 2020, during the global lockdown, there was a radical shift in thinking that saw about 90% of the world workforce working from home and other remote locations. The individuals who found themselves still working out of home were majorly health workers and emergency respondent workers. Despite the relaxation of the lockdown rules and the gradual return to normalcy, most organizations have realized that remote working is not going away anytime soon.

Employers are now looking for ways to include remote working as a working norm. More and more individuals find themselves working from the comfort of their homes or working fewer days in the office. Some organizations have introduced the concept of ‘hybrid work’ that allows for a combination of working in the office and from home. Hybrid work is an working model that is designed around the employee. It allows workers to make the decision of where they want to work. This model might have resulted from the recruitment of talents during the pandemic, in locations other than the primary location of the business and coupled with the inability to move around.

Remote working and hybrid work promotes inclusivity, well-being and flexibility of work. However, employers are increasingly concerned about how to monitor the performance of workers that they cannot physically see. This problem is easily resolved as hybrid work is technology-based and the activities of workers can easily be tracked especially on an intranet network of the organization. This means that employers need to be updated on the evolving technologies and ensure that their staff are adequately trained to make use of such technology. Unless this is done there would be a breakdown in the system, inevitably leading to unproductivity and failure of the organization.

Employee health and wellness

In the new era of work, employers are getting more involved in the work-life balance of the employees. They will try to understand their workers better by using wellness as a metric. A Gartner survey in 2020 discovered that 94% of organizations invested significantly in wellness programs. There has also been the introduction of healthy foods into the meal system of many companies with top companies such as Google pioneering this change. 

In 2022, this change is expected to continue with organizations introducing more wellness and health programs to cater for different aspects of employees’ health such as mental, physical, financial health to enable them more easily predict the performance and motivations of workers. There will be major collaborations between employers of labour and the firms in the fitness industry to promote the health values of organizations. Organizations should be prepared to invest heavily in this as it is usually capital intensive to the organization.

Automation

The world is fast becoming an automated one, with most repetitive and easy tasks now being managed by robots and machines. Research shows that close to 65% of repetitive managerial work will be automated by 2025, and as more organizations shift towards the use of technology in running basic processes, there will be an increase in demand for individuals with interpersonal relationships and teamwork skills. Not all processes can be automated and there would be an increase in the need for employees to interact together and brainstorm ideas instead of sitting with computers all day.

In addition to people skills, employers would need to begin to train their staff to view AI as more than a tool but also as a co-worker that is highly capable but still imperfect in some areas. The use of AI will also lead to a reduction in the number of needed job positions leading to redundancy of workers. Organizations will need to be adequately prepared to compensate staff in the long run.

Sustainability

There are rising concerns from the public on how organizations utilize resources, especially non-renewable resources and also require the effect of organizational activities on the environment in general. This has made organizations more conscious of how efficiently and smartly they use resources. Employers now understand that their impact goes beyond just financials, they are also responsible for protecting the environment and improving society. Organizations are exploring ways of creating products and services that protect the environment and improve the living of consumers and employees alike. Steps are being taken to reduce the carbon footprints of employees, and stringent laws are being put in place by the government to ensure that organizations comply with ethical standards.

In future work, there would be increased flexibility in organizational structures, and a broader link between the behaviour of people in an organization in relation to society and the success or failure of such organizations. Employers would need to restate their values and use this to attract the best candidates. Financial benefits alone is no longer enough to attract talents, the organization must prove itself capable of impacting society positively. Care must also be taken by employers to see that the strict laws put in place do not hinder creativity and innovations.

Knowledge recruitment

Traditional employment based on certificates and positions is gradually fading away. A lot of major positions and job titles are being scrapped and replaced with skill based titles. Full-time employment is gradually being abandoned for freelancing. This will pose a major challenge to organizations that rely on the stability of employees in the organization. Most freelancers do not stay on a job for long and employment is trending towards being more contract-based. A survey has indicated that HR professionals expect at least 20% of their workforce to be contractual or temporary staff. There would be greater challenges faced by employers in recruiting and retaining staff as individuals are having more freedom to change jobs at any time. Organizations might need to rework their compensation schemes to attract talents that are willing to stay and grow with the company.

For the existing staff of companies, the need to keep them abreast of changing job demands is necessary. As job demands change, the required skills also change. There is an expected shift in about 48% of core skills required to perform in a workplace. Analytical thinking, active learning, human and technological skills are in growing demand to keep businesses running and employers must be ready to invest in training new and existing employees or risk being ousted from the competitive market. As a result, organizations must be at the forefront of developing their staff, through the onboarding of new recruits, frequent workshops and probably the provision of funding for employees to take up courses to improve their skills.

Conclusion

The future of work is not far off, it is now. Organizations, employers and managers must not cease to think of new ways of adapting to change. Planning ahead for the long term is critical to ensuring the continued survival of any organization whether growing or already established. Leaders within organizations should anticipate change and create possible solutions to various probable challenges. Change may be hard to predict but is unavoidable. In creating a workforce that is capable of delivering, wehireglobally is a global employer of records that specializes in helping organizations with the recruitment of the best talents from all around the world. Wehireglobally also helps with the onboarding of new employees into an organization’s system. We can help you recruit and retain your employees with the best onboarding process using new hire onboarding software and create a comprehensive payroll system on your behalf.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.