Are you ready for a new era of work-related challenges?

Are you ready for a new era of work-related challenges?

The heads of the People Services Department at KPMG describe the work environment of the future and analyze the challenges ahead for both employers and employees.

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Peggy Velliotou, Partner

Who are the millennials, for whom there has been so much talk lately? 

PV: In 10 years from now, the millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) will constitute 75% of the workforce. They are more tolerant of diversity and more concerned about social justice issues. They are most heterogeneous generation in history.In the workplace, they want to develop in their own way and at their own pace. They want to have access to knowledge and experience, and they also want to cooperate. They do not need ‘trophies’ but seek empowerment instead.According to recent surveys, 98% of millennials believe that having a workplace mentor is fundamental for their development. They ranked training and development three times higher than a cash bonus. Also, 88% of millennials choose employers whose social responsibility and values reflect their own. They dislike inflexible work schedules and the lack of social consciousness. On average, millennials expect to stay at a company for no more than two years.

How can companies attract and retain millennials?

PV: It is a great challenge for companies today to attract and retain millennials who wish to work in a business environment with more freedom and less control or bureaucracy.As presented at the World Executive Search Congress (Sept. 2016), what matters the most to this generation is the prospect of their work to have a substantial impact on the company, as well as he achievement of work-life balance. In addition, their development and the opportunity to receive continuous feedback are of great significance. They take the values of the company and the atmosphere in the workplace into great account, while income comes last on their list.Companies must become creative in their approach, reconsider their remuneration structures, clearly communicate the career opportunities, and modernize their recruitment packages. They should take into account the needs of millennials for mentors and design their roles in a way that will make them feel like working in startups. Firms also need to learn to appreciate their need for independence and accept that talent retention will be for shorter periods of time without “taking it personally”.

How are workplace structures changing?

PV: One of the key trends in the workplace is the collapse of the corporate ladder, according to which loyal employees climb step-by-step to the upper echelons of management.  Workforce composition is becoming much more diverse, which, combined with technological advances, has fuelled the demand for a more collaborative and flexible work environment. The companies have “lost” many intermediate management layers, going into a grid structure where ideas flow horizontally, vertically and diagonally.The same happens with employees' careers, which are changed from a “straight path” to a course full of zigzags. The grid model provides more opportunities and possibilities for success. While in the staircase model the only direction was upwards, in the grid model the growth potential can be found in different roles, by gaining new experiences and skills and by utilizing new networks. As the world now is less predictable than it was in the industrial age, it is very critical for people to acquire transferable skills.

Are jobs being lost?

PV: According to Oxford University, 47% of job positions will disappear in the next 20 years. In the same survey, hundreds of job profiles were studied and 25 critical human aptitudes expected to become increasingly important as technology evolves, were identified. These are skills that are substantially human and provide guidelines for the redesign of jobs and careers in the future. Capabilities such as emotional intelligence, understanding, communication, and prioritization are human ones. So, the answer to this question is no - jobs are not lost; they are just changing and each of us must redesign what we do best, in order to be prepared for the future.

Veroni Papatzimou, Partner

What characteristics will the work environment of the future have?

VP: These features are summarized as follows:

  1. Gradually, technology dominates and claims a more important role. Digital expansion is a fact, as computers acquire more intelligence and solely perform work that, until recently, was undertaken jointly with employees; the so-called “virtual robot”. At the same time, new applications and machines that can handle the purely administrative tasks are created.
  2. Social networks are expanding and now cover all areas of people’s professional and personal life, offering solutions and answers to questions that previously required more time and money.
  3. Improving communication networks no longer requires the presence of employees in the ordinary workplaces. Plenty of tasks can now be carried out remotely, with individuals choosing their place of residence and work according to completely different criteria.
  4. The extension of working life, which amounts to 40 years of employment, requires the coexistence in the workplace of more than three generations, with different characteristics, experiences, needs, expectations, priorities and administrative characteristics.
  5. As a consequence of the aforementioned trends, employees have more freedom and autonomy at work and greater responsibility for the outcome. Prospective managers have to provide more opportunities, autonomy and initiatives to their subordinates.

What jobs will be affected by the expansion of digital technology and the further automation of work?

VP: In the same way that robots changed, fifty years ago, the landscape in the automotive industry, the use of software today automates clerical work through robotic process automation. According to Frey & Osborne, technology will affect every job for which the following elements are not required:

  • High skill and the need to differentiate between subjects in a demanding environment, e.g. the hairdresser because no one wants to find a severed ear.
  • Creativity, in particular in relation to the arts, e.g. landscape photographer or piano virtuoso.
  • Social feedback or social intelligence, e.g. a social worker or primary school teacher.

Therefore, all those tasks that can be performed by a PC will gradually replace professionals such as accountants, bank tellers, and customer service employees in call centers. At the same time, however, new jobs will be created that will require knowledge of new technology, skills such as flexibility, creativity and innovation, and employees who are not complacent and are constantly looking to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

What challenges will the Human Resources Department face in the future?

VP: The application of digital technology in the field of human resources is not as prevalent in other business functions, such as customer service or financial management. The sophisticated human resource management systems require fewer employees in administrative and bureaucratic occupations, while at the same time qualitatively enhancing their performance. Human resource executives must have a well-developed analytical and synthetic ability in order to add value to the information provided by the advanced information processing systems. This contributes to the repositioning of human resource as a strategic partner in a company.

In the current and future conditions, the Human Resources Department is called upon to formulate a strategic human resource plan registering the skills and capabilities that exist and those that are going to be developed in order to adequately address the business challenges of the future. In parallel, it is called upon to formulate the priorities and strategy for talent management to ensure sufficient capacity building.

© 2024 KPMG Advisors Single Member S.A., a Greek Societe Anonyme and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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