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21 trends transforming talent and the future of work

Study: 21 trends transforming talent and the future of work

ManpowerGroup outlines in its latest study the 21 trends transforming talent and the future of work in 2021, and how organizations can better prepare. One of the trends is accelerating gender gap.

Existing and new trends in the workplace are accelerating, driving digital transformation at an unprecedented scale as a result of the global health, economic and social crisis. In this context, organizations need to transform their workforces to ensure they have the skills and competencies needed to retain and retool for an uncertain future, ManpowerGroup notes in its study ‘21 Trends for 2021: Transforming Talent and the Future of Work’.

According to the company, businesses can better prepare for the trends impacting talent and the new global “work” order by creating greater workforce flexibility, strengthening talent sustainability and worker well-being and powering digital transformations. The 21 trends outline the major forces of demographic shifts, rise of individual choice, growing client sophistication, technological revolution as well as emerging trends shaping the workplace and workforce of the future.

Trend #1

Skills scarcity

Skills scarcity is accelerating due to the most significant workforce transformation since World War II, ManpowerGroup notes in its study. The global talent shortage is expected to result in 85m unfilled roles by 2030. Tech and human skills will continue to grow in demand while admin, hospitality, and legal/business support jobs will decline. Individuals and organizations will need more and faster reskilling solutions.

Trend #2

Growing polarization requires companies to stand up and speak out

Increasing social tension and greater recognition of inequity, especially race, will call for more transparency from organizations around human capital, diversity and inclusion as key to recovery and growth. 

Employee and customer demands for companies to take a stand on social justice, climate change and other global issues, will continue to magnify where politicians have done too little. Policies will emerge to address social challenges and disclosures on race, gender and other Human Capital metrics as Stakeholder Capitalism picks up pace.

Trend #3

Rapid rise in remote work

Creating an on-demand workforce, hybrid work models and untethered work are all on the rise. Reducing real estate footprint, an increasing urban exodus, global mobility and creating job opportunities beyond borders will drive both employee and employer preferences. According to the study, 43% of workers think the Covid-19 crisis marks the end of every day in the workplace. Data show that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.

Trend #4

Gender gap accelerating

Women are disproportionately affected by both social and economic crises due to the pandemic. Therefore, they are over-represented in job losses across industries including retail, leisure and hospitality and underrepresented in growth sectors including tech, ops and logistics, while also taking on more caring responsibilities at home.

Women are more likely than men to be furloughed (12% vs 10%), more concerned about going back to the workplace, and more appreciative of the office as a means of separating work from home. Men, one the other hand, are more likely to want to be in the office for visibility & promotion, and feel more relieved, happy and confident about a return to the workplace.

Trend #5

New hierarchy of individual needs calls for greater flexibility, autonomy and choice

Concerns for health, employment security and skills development along with flexibility to achieve best blend and balance of work and home responsibilities will be shared by individuals and organizations alike.

The homebody economy will grow as consumer behaviors shift and wellness at work becomes the norm. Employers will increasingly redesign and revalue the workplace for the best blend of ‘heads down’ remote work and ‘heads up’ collaboration and creativity. Gig, freelance and contract work will optimize worker choice, study notes.

Trend #6

Importance of health and well-being, both physical and emotional

With never-seen-before levels of employer responsibility, this requires a greater role for HR, with more duty of care including ways to help employees switch off and disconnect. There is a growing need for new empathetic leadership skills for the caring age. Acknowledgement of using tech for good, including the value of sharing personal data to support overall health and prevent virus spread.

Trend #7

Omnipresence of digital action

Increased adoption of social networking and virtual communities is swelling digital adoption with new ways to interact anywhere, anyhow, anytime.

Trend #8

Employees as consumers with louder demands for transparency and equity

We see employees as consumers within the organization with the emergence of a new employer / employee relationship that reflects What Workers Want – security, sustainability

of skills, work life blend, and wellness. There is increased demand on organizations to act as global citizens and environmental stewards, adopting new levels of stakeholderism with clear environmental, social and corporate governance goals and metrics.

Trend #9

The continued human-machine co-evolution

The reacceleration of automation at scale fueled by 5G will speed up the skills revolution, transform industries and drive increased productivity, with higher wages and more new-collar jobs.

Trend #10

Every company must become a tech company

Sophisticated and ethical AI, will change the nature of work while ‘SuperTeams’ will combine the best in human skills and intelligent machines working together to solve problems, gain insights, and create new value. The growth of cyber and remote working means every company must be a tech company to be able to compete and create more value.

Trend #11

Technology will allow individuals and employers to learn more about wellbeing management

Organizations will need to balance using technology as a tool to solve for ‘always on’ culture or enhancing productivity with growing responsibilities around data ownership and transparency as trust and ethics is increasingly viewed as a basic need.

Trend #12

Rise of digital disruptors and the digitization of the customer experience

The growth of new industries, including telemedicine, pharma, edtech, and self-care will drive changes in personalization and on-demand, remote, touch-free, and contactless solutions bringing together the best of technology and human skills.

Trend #13

Education (r)evolution

The ongoing need for upskilling and reskilling will change the future of education. Individuals and organizations will shift towards on demand, micro-certification, virtual teaching and cloud coaching at scale providing new solutions for the Skills Revolution.

Trend #14

Acceleration of workforce strategy and talent management

In a race to optimize workforce mix and achieve competitive advantage, organizations will seek out more internal, consumer-focused, personalized solutions, and new operating models for future agility to redefine the workplace and worker.

Trend #15

Data-centricity increasing demand for AI-driven assessments and solutions

The results producing meaningful interpretations, insights and actions that can bring data-driven changes in behavior, helping organizations predict performance and individuals know more about their skills and potential.

Trend #16

Supply chain resilience, creating connected platforms and ecosystems

Supply chain resilience and vendor consolidation will be at a premium to mitigate uncertainty and manage risk. Organizations will need to create ecosystems that establish increasing returns at scale, zero marginal costs, and sustainable competitive advantage via aggregated suppliers, satisfied users and amplified networks.

Trend #17

Renewed demands on leaders

There is renewed demand on leaders to lead with empathy and digital agility, championing ESG and being a part of driving the green deal and climate action regardless of sector, with focus on recovery and sustainability.

Trend #18

Recovery revolution with healthtech, edtech, greentech & ‘amazonization” of healthcare

Rapidly changing healthcare, new norms in telemedicine and AI diagnoses along with hybrid education will emerge reinvented post-pandemic. NextGen tech, healthcare, and green economy industries will compete for in-demand sustainable skills. The largest global vaccination program in decades will lead to new co-operation, roles, skills, pace of production and definition of last mile health delivery, as well as drive growing demand for healthcare supplies, distribution, biometrics and talent.

Trend #19

Pivoting to progress

Businesses will need to demonstrate greater agility: think Airbnb shifting to long term/ local rentals, high fashion to leisure wear, gyms to home fitness, restaurants to take-out. Heavily impacted industries are reinventing – air and travel, retail, finance & banking, fashion, commercial real estate, food and beverage will all transform for the long-term. 

86% of employers that are automating plan to increase or maintain their headcount, while 38% of companies are accelerating their digitization and automation efforts as a result of the pandemic.

Trend #20

Amplified consumerization of work

As tech and online retail advances and the workplace goes hybrid, Artificial and Ambient Intelligence, mixed realities and multisense, multi-device experiences will become people’s everyday interactions. Expectations of new opportunities and breakthroughs, along with a seamless, personalized virtual experience at work and home will be a new reality in the digitized post-Covid world.

Trend #21

Net zero employment emerges as the epitome of responsible ESG

As skills needs shift faster, best employers will commit to achieving a balance of being net zero on jobs. Every time companies restructure and jobs are lost, others will be created and people will be reskilled to fill new roles either inside or outside the organization.

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