In just five years’ time, the majority of the UK and Irish workforce is expected to be flexible, a new report has found. According to 79% of HR decision makers, employees are expected to have multiple simultaneous careers by 2018, and more than half (60%) expect that workers will be either be on temporary contracts or working flexibly as contractors or freelancers. The report, from talent management specialist Right Management, also found that almost all organisations (92%) anticipate their older workers will opt to work part-time rather than retire.
The Flux Report, which surveyed 250 line managers and 100 HR decision makers in organisations with more than 500 employees, identified the changes that have affected businesses over the last five years and how these have fundamentally altered people management practices.
As well as indicating a future built on flexible working, the survey also uncovered a number of interesting conflicts. Nearly three quarters of HR decision makers (70%) expect the leadership teams and board members to become younger and to be promoted from within the business (54%). At the same time, only a quarter of line managers (24%) see themselves working in a more senior role with their current employer in just five years’ time and less than half, just 43%, have a clear idea of how they can progress with their current employer. The research indicates a clear expectation of line managers and younger workers to perform and create the next generation of leaders, yet many are struggling to understand their employers’ corporate vision and their place in it.
Ian Symes, general manager at Right Management UK & Ireland comments: “The last five years have seen a period of unprecedented change which is fundamentally transforming the way we work and what is expected from us as employees. Office hours are becoming blurred, people are having to learn more and develop faster than ever before and workers are expected to juggle a number of roles both at work and at home. And all of this is happening in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
“This report shows that people can cope with change to a point but, in many instances, workers are feeling overwhelmed, unsupported and unclear on their future direction. If businesses are going to make the most of improved economic conditions, they need to put people at the heart of their plans and provide their employees with the support, structures and vision they need to cope in an ever-changing environment.”
The perceived impact of flux is so great that in just five years’ time, 91% of HR directors think it’s likely that people will be recruited on their ability to deal with change and uncertainty. Resilience is becoming an important employee attribute, and both line managers (79%) and HR decision makers (75%) see employee wellness as something that will be formally measured and reported on by 2018. Currently however, as many as 72% of line managers think that their organisation could do more to help them manage periods of persistent stress.
Symes concludes: “Organisations need to strategically plan their workforce and look at the systems they have in place to support employees and the business through turbulent times. Without this, they will always be reacting to what is happening rather than being in control. This will only add to the stress and exhaustion that many staff are feeling so it’s important that businesses look at ways to boost the resilience of their organisation and their people. Planning ahead and being flexible are central to making this a reality.”
Having a truly flexible and resilient workforce will require investment in staff development and is expected to accelerate new ways of working. In 2018, many HR decision-makers (71%) expect that work will simply be done anytime and anywhere, based entirely on individual needs and nearly half (49%) expect holographic telepresence meetings. Almost half (46%) of HR directors also expect treadmill desks to be commonplace to combat sedentary office life in a bid to support a healthier employee lifestyle.