Hello, 2020! Key trends For The Future Of Work

Gone are the days when businesses can rely on favourable reputation and social responsibility alone.

Yes, the commercial world is constantly evolving. New technologies and trends that came into force in 2019 have created a significant impact on the world of work. In particular, 5G is speeding up day-to-day tasks, employee well-being has become a key focus for businesses, workers are demanding more flexibility and a whole new generation has joined the workforce.

For businesses looking to gain a competitive edge or win the battle for top talent, recognising and exploiting these trends may be what sets them apart in the year ahead.

Employee well-being is no longer a nice-to-have

Employee well-being has been an area of increased focus for businesses in 2019 heading into the new decade. There has been an increased awareness of burnout at work and the detrimental effect this can have on physical and mental health.

A recent Levell study found that 60% of workers experience performance drops as a result of chronic stress and burnout in the workplace, whilst Kronos research shows that 95% of HR leaders think that stress is “sabotaging workforce retention”.

So how do businesses tackle burnout and re-engage employees? One method that has gained attention is practising mindfulness at work, with firms like McKinsey, Nike, Google and Apple all implementing programmes ranging from meditation to courses of cognitive behavioural training.

These techniques can refocus and relax employees, with neurological studies showing that meditation can increase the areas of the brain that can regulate emotion, improve attention span, increase job performance and productivity as well as improving job satisfaction at work.

Core changes to how we work can also have a profound effect on well-being. Working on the basis of productivity, not time in the office, and retaining full pay, leads to increased happiness among employees, lower stress, and higher engagement and job satisfaction.

Workers worldwide demand flexibility 

One of the biggest trends relating to work around the globe is based on flexibility – just like The Perpetual Guardian four-day workweek model. Today, the option for flexible working, be it flexible work locations or flexible hours has been implemented in many multinational companies to meet the demands of the future workforce – 62% of businesses worldwide now offer flexible work arrangements making it a current trend.

According to Statistics New Zealand, over half of Kiwi employees have flexible hours, allowing them to start and finish work at different times each day with one-third of them choosing to work from home.

Rapid technological advancements and the growing globalisation of the workplace have enabled such flexibility possible. When firms allow their people more autonomy in managing their work schedule, it increases employee satisfaction, workforce retention, loyalty and well-being.

Flexible work policies benefit employers as well, with the IWG Global Workspace Survey observed that most business leaders believe these policies improve workplace efficiency, with over two-thirds claiming they increase productivity by 20% or more. Not only this, but employees that take advantage of flexible working policies are shown to be absent less often, as they are able to adjust their work schedule in line with their life outside of work.

Generation Z in the workforce 

This year witnessed more employees from Gen Z entering the workforce for the first time. They are known as the first fully digital generation with studies showing that 60% of Gen Z prefer to learn through YouTube tutorials and videos. This presents a new challenge for organisations having to adapt existing training methods to incorporate more digital and visual features in order to engage with these social media natives.

Gen Z also has different perceptions and ideals compared to their predecessors. A recent report by Deloitte states that Gen Z place more emphasis on diversity and particularly LGBT identity and religion than their elders. Businesses can no longer rely on favourable reputation and social responsibility alone but need to demonstrate equality and care for their workforce to attract the top Gen Z talent.