The World of Work Part I: What Does Work Look Like Today?

We are no longer in an era of change, but a change of era.
– Andy Stalman

The world of work is changing significantly.

As pointed out in Forbes, “change is occurring simultaneously, accelerating quickly, and creating so much complexity and uncertainty that even the savviest executives question whether they’re prepared for the revolution ahead.”

Since this is so I’ve decided to cover change in the world of work, in two parts. Part II will focus on the world of work of the future- what skills will be valued, what jobs will emerge, and how will we deal with the increased presence of technology?

For now, I’ve decided to begin Part I with changes in the world of work that are already here, today. What do younger generations expect, what are the characteristics of the modern workplace, and what do employers- including finance executives- need to know and take into account?

Every employer and employee should know and understand the new norms.
Read on to get a better understanding of the world of work today.


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

The world is changing faster than ever before, and the speed of change is increasing exponentially. But change refers to more than just changes in technology. It also applies to intangibles such as social and cultural changes-changes in our experiences, expectations, and norms.

From this perspective, what does the world of work look like today?

Keep up or move on out.

40% of the companies in the Fortune 500 list will not exist in ten years. And nine out of ten of those companies that were in the list in the mid-twentieth century are not there anymore.

Employees expect workplace flexibility. 

Digitalization has made it possible for us to work from wherever we want, whenever we want. Organizations are taking this into consideration.

For example, in December 2011 PwC introduced a flexibility plan that gave employees the right to ask for flexible work policies such as flextime, compressed workweeks, and reduced hours. 

Generations Y and Z aren’t expecting jobs for a lifetime. 

In their 2019 survey, Deloitte found that 49% of Millennials would, if they had a choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years. In their 2017 report, the number was 38%. They also found that “these are not idle threats- about a quarter of those saying they would leave within two years reported leaving an employer in the past 24 months…this is a challenge for companies seeking a stable workforce.”

Work-life balance is a priority. 

Millennials are not willing to give up their personal lives for work. A force of power, by 2020 Millennials will make up 35% of the workforce, and they are leveraging their power to challenge previously accepted norms.

Balancing work with their personal lives is a priority, so much so that even established financial services have taken this into account.

On their corporate site, PwC goes so far as to state that their “goal is to create a flexible work environment where [they] can respond in the most agile way to the demands of a client service business while providing…employees with control and influence over their own quality of life.”

Employees are working more hours than before.

Employees may prioritize work-life balance, but this does not mean they work less.

Employees are overwhelmed.

  • Unfortunately, fewer than 16% of companies have a program to “simplify work” or help employees deal with stress.
  • The “average” US worker works 47 hours, 49% work 50 hours or more per week, and 20% work 60+ hours per week.
  • To my dismay, 40% of the US population believes it is impossible to succeed at work and have a balanced family life.

(Sources: Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2014 and 2015)

Stress is everywhere, and it’s expensive. Very expensive.

According to the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, studies have found the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work” range between 29% to 40%.

This can result in a slew of health consequences ranging from feelings of fatigue and a lack of energy to heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

According to Deloitte, for employers this translates to $300B spent on employee wellness, healthcare, and absence costs every year.


Forces of change for the financial industry

The fundamentals and terms of work of traditional industries, such as financial services, are shifting. Employers need to consider what these changes mean. Silently but with immense force, the rules of the game have changed.

If organizations fail to address these changes they run the risk of losing employees, and this can come at a hefty cost.

According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs an organization an average of $4,129 to hire a replacement should it fail to retain an employee. This number is a rough estimate and doesn’t take into account the added value that a prized employee brings to an organization.

To remain competitive organizations must think differently in order to attract, develop, and maintain the workforce of today.

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