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Targeting the future in a new world of work

SUCCEEDING in the new world of work requires constant market monitoring. And whether you’re an employer, employee, a generation Xer or a baby boomer, the ability to change focus and direction is a priority.

While in the past it was common for a company to tailor a career and succession plan for its employees, there has been a significant shift in the employment sector, with a growth in temporary, contract, and part-time work, and no clearly defined retirement age.

According to Anson managing director Stephen Anson, the ‘revolving door’ workplace is an economic reality that has resulted in a growth in flexible workforces.

“Employers are looking at having a wide variety of people to meet the demands of the business,” Mr Anson said.

“In the 1970s one in 20 workers was a temporary or contractor. In 1998, one in three was a temporary, casual, part time or seasonal worker ... it’s now much more competitive and companies are looking more closely at their workforce.”

The new world of work demands that individuals manage their own career and employability and, because of this, Mr Anson said there was a noticeable shift in employee loyalty.

“In the 1970s one could expect a job for life and expect your employer to map out your career path for you and you get job security over a couple of decades,” he said.

“That is a tremendous commitment. Why wouldn’t the employer expect the same commitment in return? It was very much a sense of deep commitment.

“In more recent times people in the new world of commerce can’t give them a job for life. Instead, it is about stating the corporate objectives and getting someone who shares those objectives; someone who is aligned with those views.

“You can reasonably accept a degree of loyalty because of the common values and purpose.

The smart employers are tapping into the field of spirituality and creating a sense of fellowship. It’s loyalty in a different form.”

According to Envision Growth and Change Processes principal consultant Susan Leeming, the shift in loyalty, as well as Generation X’s different view on workplaces, is forcing baby boomer bosses to become better communicators.

“Generation Xers can go anywhere and are happy to go across the globe ... they want an employer they feel proud of and has socially responsible policies,” Ms Leeming said.

“There has been a lot mentioned about emotional intelligence and recognising emotions in other people.

“The baby boomers were not given skills in this area and it’s quite confronting for them when they grew up in a culture that was very much a ‘you do as I say’ attitude; it doesn’t feel right for a lot of them.”

The key for employers to attract and retain very good employees is to have an acceptable organisational culture and offer development opportunities to help individuals get to the next level in their careers, which may be at a different organisation or industry.

“Employers of choice have become proactive in sponsoring education. A person will not join an organisation where they can’t see they can develop,” Mr Anson said.

“If you are not growing, you are going. You can’t just achieve the status.”

With that in mind, it seems individuals are in the driver’s seat.

“Whether you are a Generation Y entering the workforce, a Generation X in the workforce, or an existing baby boomer worker, it’s all about managing your employability,” Mr Anson said.

“The key is employability and to monitor the demand for your skills and knowledge. The emerging workforce is thinking: ‘What am I going to learn here? What do I get in return?’ Individuals have taken back control.”

While the education sector has been quick to recognise the need for continuing eduction, those seeking added qualifications need to ensure the training they choose is relevant to their ultimate requirements.

“The answer is not to go and just study. It needs to be targeted … it needs to be strategic,” Mr Anson said.

But he said it was important individuals monitored that their career path is the one they want to take.

“Get advice on what you’re gifted with. Career coaching is a good idea. Who wants to invest in three or four decades for something they don’t like?” Mr Anson said.

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