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16 February 2021

The Workforce of the Future – Part 5

by User Not Found

In this final blog in the series, Richard Beaven answers the question: what does the workforce of the future look like.

He then goes on to summarise his reflections on the series, including the feedback he has received from a large number of people interested in this topic, including many executives and entrepreneurs thinking through how they set their businesses up to succeed in the future.

What does the insurance workforce of tomorrow look like? Final reflections

I’m pleased that the key messages from each of the blogs around working from home and empowerment have resonated with a lot of people; they and their businesses are clearly thinking about the future. It has been interesting to see how many people are like minded about the opportunity that Covid has presented to rethink business models and do different things in companies large and small.

In a world where data is the new religion, thinking about the workforce of the future is a very human thing to do. There are up to five generations in the workforce now. The next generation (Generation Alpha) will be joining the workforce shortly, and that generation will have the most dramatically different expectations from all the others that went before.

They will be fully digital. They will have zero expectations of a lifelong career. They will expect employers to take social responsibilities seriously and to demonstrate a business’s credibility in this area. Employers will have to demonstrate that they are environmentally friendly and truly care about these things.  There will have to be purpose to the work. Employees won’t want to learn by rote, or learn in classrooms, they want experiential learning and everything delivered in bitesized chunks, through VR and other media which previous generations have not experienced themselves. Sadly, I am one of the few people who is unable to wear a VR headset as it makes me very unwell but I commend it to those who are able to.

It will become harder than ever to recruit people into doing some of the more tedious manual work associated with insurance businesses, we will need to find ways to eliminate or automate it. Who wants to answer telephones for seven hours a day? I suspect few will, so we need to create more blended work, greater flexibility and working locations to provide better work-life blends.

How to make the leap and reach out to the next generation without this becoming the sole focus and dismissing the valuable contribution of the current generations? We need to start blending the new tech coming in (such as VR) with more traditional approaches. It is evolution not revolution. For example, at Brightside we are working with a technology firm to gamify fun in the virtual office and reward success through gamification – we’re running some experiments in the next few weeks. I never thought I’d do that.

It is a serious question for late middle-aged management: How do you get an oldster like me in business for 40 years thinking about how we engage with people who don’t think like me…..at all?

Organisations that are inclusive will thrive. Businesses with all white male management will find it hard to recruit.  Leadership will be much more data led and analytical, although leaders cannot be robots; the best leaders will balance analytical ability with nous and responsiveness to the flexibility employees are expecting of the businesses they choose to work for. Leaders will be adept at managing workforces who are mostly not office based, not the other way around.

Finally, a thought about diversity and inclusion. Let us be absolutely clear that however this lands, and wherever we go, I am convinced that only organisations that tackle inequalities and truly deliver on the promise of inclusive workforces and equal opportunity for everyone – in other words zero discrimination – will succeed in employing and retaining the workforce of the future.
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