There are five key themes that will reshape the future of work, said Bain & Company recently when releasing results of a related survey.
Survey results indicate that 58% of workers across 10 major economies feel the pandemic has forced them to rethink the balance between their work and their personal lives.
The firm said it and Dynata surveyed 20,000 workers from 10 countries—the US, China, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil—that represent around 65% of global GDP as well as 100 indepth interviews.
The five key themes that will reshape the future of work are as follows, according to Bain.
Motivations for work are changing. Gains in living standards over the past 150 years are allowing us to spend less of our time working and raising expectations about what a job should provide.
While compensation still ranks among the top priorities for most workers, only one in five now rank it as the number one factor in a job with interesting work, job security and flexibility also among the most important priorities.
This new research shows that as community organisations and religious observance have declined in prominence, new generations of workers may turn to their careers to provide social connection and a sense of higher purpose.
Far from the idle leisure class of bygone eras, the upper echelons of today’s society now work the longest hours of all, as busyness is seen as a sign of status.
Those at the bottom of the income hierarchy now work the least hours, as they are often unable to secure the stable full-time employment they desire.
Beliefs about what makes a “good job” are diverging. As attitudes toward work fragment, the average worker is no longer a useful approximation.
Bain has identified six worker archetypes, each with a different set of priorities: operators, givers, artisans, explorers, strivers and pioneers.
For instance, 25% of US executives are “pioneers”—risk-tolerant workers who are on a mission to change the world and will make great personal sacrifices accordingly—compared with only 9% of the nation’s working population.
This research shows the need for business leaders to recognise that their personal perspective of what a good job looks like won’t necessarily be shared by everyone in their organisation, especially those on the front lines.
Automation is helping to rehumanise work. Distinctly human advantages— problem solving skills, interpersonal connection and creativity—are growing in importance as automation eliminates routine work.
Bain expects to see a shifting occupational mix in developed economies that will favour uniquely human skills in the workforce of the future. This will require a major reskilling of the workforce.
Technological change is blurring the boundaries of the firm. The pandemic has profoundly shifted the way workers interact with their firms.
Together, the rise of work-from-home and the gig economy have loosened the boundaries of the firm, making the ideas of a workplace and a worker more fluid.
While these changes decrease costs for companies, they offer a mixed bag for workers. The job satisfaction levels of contract workers are markedly below those of permanent employees.
Bain’s survey shows that 47% of workers globally view many of their colleagues as friends. This level of connection and trust is a critical ingredient for effectively operating complex businesses.
The big question is whether companies can maintain connection and trust without the physical connection provided by offices.
Younger generations are increasingly overwhelmed. Young people, especially in advanced economies, are under mounting psychological strain that spills over into their work lives.
In Western markets, 61% of respondents under 35 cited financial issues, job security or failing to meet their career goals as major concerns for the next decade. Only 40% of those over 35 cited the same concerns.
A path forward for business leaders
Taking these trends into account, Bain & Company identifies three actions for business leaders.
From talent takers to talent makers. This requires scaling investments in learning, thinking laterally about career journeys and cultivating a growth mindset in their organisation.
While incumbents increasingly struggle against skills shortages, their insurgent rivals are finding creative ways to tap into the hidden potential of their people.
Stop managing workers like machines. Instead leaders need to support workers in building personal capacity and create a career that matches their individual idea of a meaningful life.
As part of this, leaders will reorganise workflows to help individuals best utilise their uniquely human advantages.
Offering a sense of belonging. Winning firms will build an organisation that offers a sense of belonging and opportunity for its many unique workers while remaining united through a shared vision and communal values.
“Growing competition for talent has put the future of work squarely in the spotlight for business leaders,” said James Root, partner at Bain & Company and co-chair of Bain Futures. “Now is the time to focus the human side of work, which will allow leading firms to attract, develop and retain the workforce that is core to their future success.”