Biz Tips: The Future Of Work Is Now: 3 Practical Ways To Empower Your Employees To Succeed

Biz Tips: The Future Of Work Is Now: 3 Practical Ways To Empower Your Employees To Succeed


The Future Of Work Is Now: 3 Practical Ways To Empower Your Employees To Succeed

The idea of lifelong employment at one company is becoming an archaic notion.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an increasing percentage of U.S. workers are in nontraditional employment relationships. And “nontraditional” takes many forms. It might mean working as on-call workers, independent contractors, leasing agency workers, or freelancing.

Digital technology is changing the terms on which employees work — across every industry — and company leaders have to evolve as well.

It might sound a little intimidating, but really, organizing and optimizing your future workforce boils down to a few solid guiding principles. If you implement them effectively, you’ll be in a great place to weather the demands of an ever-shifting workforce. With a new year mere weeks away, it’s never been more important to take to heart that the nature of work is changing beyond recognition.

Here’s how to gear yourself up for the new work landscape of 2019 and beyond:

1. Encourage lifelong learning.

The skills you graduated college with — whether they be in library sciences, agriculture, or accounting — are likely now a little outdated.

The pace of technology has quickened exponentially over the past few years. According to Pew Research Center, as many as 87% of American employees say they need to develop new skills continually to keep pace in their careers. It’s hard enough to keep up with the newest features on the new iPhone, let alone with the major changes happening in the workforce.

That’s why lifelong learning is critical to weathering this shifting landscape — for company leaders and employees alike.

Employees who constantly evolve their skills will not only have the most job security, but they’ll also be far more productive and innovative. As an employer, you should allow employees to self-direct their learning, connect them with mentors, create opportunities, and build a library of resources. Employees should take advantage of workplaces with these resources, or otherwise create them independently.

This way, no one gets left behind.

2. Don’t let new tech scare you off.

If you walked into an auto factory 50 years ago, you’d see row after row of employees assembling really specific parts.

Today, that same factory would be full of robots. The work that once took a thousand humans can now be done with a small fraction of that number.

It’s an age-old tale but that’s the scale of the change we all have to get used to. Technology has advanced beyond simply replacing manual labor and is now being trained to perform cognitive tasks, as well. McKinsey predicted that by 2030, 800 million jobs will be lost to automation. And a lot of people are afraid.

But trying to resist change will get you nowhere — there are lots of ways to remain competitive in the machine age.

For example, you can learn how to take advantage of all this new technology. If you can figure out how to derive powerful insights from AI software like chatbots, virtual assistants, and analytics platforms, you’ll be a valuable asset to any company in the machine age. If you don’t know where to start, you can get a leg up by using and practicing with open-source AI software.

Even if tech just isn’t your thing, that’s okay. While AI easily outperforms humans in repetitive tasks and computing operations, creativity remains the most unique and important part of human intelligence. Creativity isn’t just fine art — it covers everything from scientific discovery to organizational solutions. Cultivating these types of skills that can’t be performed by computers will make you more employable in the machine age. Soft skills are even more important in this new age.

Ultimately, AI will create more jobs than it will replace — there’s no reason to be scared if you’re smart about it.

3. Take advantage of new and nontraditional work structures.

The idea of what a workplace looks like is rapidly changing.

Many companies have rejected the idea of a brick-and-mortar office wholesale, instead employing geographically-dispersed remote workforces. Even those companies that still have a traditional office are increasingly relying on temporary workers, consultants, and independent contractors.

Employers have depended on temporary labor for decades, but experts say today’s non-employee workforce is larger and more varied than ever before — studies show the majority of U.S. workers will be freelancing by 2027.

When I started Ximble, I built a remote team out of necessity. I live in California, where real estate is famously expensive, so I couldn’t afford to hire the programmer next door. But I was able to use technology to recruit super skilled people across the country and even around the world.

As tech continues to weaken the bonds between work and the workplace, a greater proportion of the labor force will be working at home or in other locations. Companies should be taking advantage of technologies like Slack, Skype, and Dropbox that encourage collaboration among remote workers to keep employees connected, creative, and productive. Leaders who are open-minded and adaptable will wind up with an all-star team assembled from a diverse talent pool.

But you have to get comfortable being in a state of flux. The workforce today doesn’t look anything like it did 20 years ago. Twenty years from now, it’ll probably look just as foreign.

If you stay one step ahead of the curve and remember that change is inevitable, you’ll empower your employees to do their best.

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