I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time predicting if I'll get any work done in a given day--let alone how work will get done in the workplace of the future.

But the changing nature of how work gets done, and of the workers who do that work, is the subject of recent Gallup research.

Lucky for all of us.

Here's what the research showed and what to do about it:

1. Lack of learning and growth opportunities will become a lightning rod.

Research conflicts as to whether or not Millennials job-hop any more than other generations.

What's clear is that Millennials, who now make up the largest share (34 percent) of the workforce, value opportunities to learn and grow more than any other generation. And when they don't get them, they become disengaged--enter job hopping.

In fact, only 50 percent of such Millennials say they plan to be with their current company one year from now.

Prioritize and then plan for learning opportunities by discussing three questions with your employees:

  • What do they need to learn to advance their careers?
  • What do they want to learn to advance their cause? (In other words, how can they work on the things personally important to them?)
  • What are they interested in learning to feed their curiosity?

Three questions, one portfolio of learning and growth opportunities. (If you're interested in reading more about how to build that portfolio, you're in luck: I wrote a whole article about it just last month.)

2. Fear of being replaced by artificial intelligence will take an emotional toll.

This blew me away: Nearly four in ten Millennials (37 percent) "are at high risk of having their job replaced by automation."

Think it doesn't apply to your industry?

Innovations in machine learning are advancing at such a blistering pace that more and more jobs will be automated, creating a greater number of employees fearful for their job. 87 percent of manufacturing jobs over a recent ten year period were lost to robots, while only 13 percent were lost to foreign companies.

Turns out it's the Rise of the Machines we have to fear, not China or Mexico.

And it's already weighing on the workforce.

I'm not advocating the unwinding of progress. I'm suggesting proactive communication. Gallup's research indicates that the companies best handling the revolution have a plan for communicating with employees well in advance of introducing new technology.

Those companies are forthright about the impact on jobs (if any), but also diffuse anxiety by explaining the positive impact the technology will have on jobs--especially when it affects how employees will collaborate and learn. They also map out the role artificial intelligence will play and how it might impact the workforce.

3. Major social trends will impact the need for greater workplace planning.

Staffing plans will have to accommodate the reality that retirement is happening later in life. Gallup's research indicated that the percentage of post-retirement-aged workers (aged 65 and older) in full-time jobs more than doubled from 2001-2002 (four percent) to 2015-2016 (nine percent).

Changing social views of Millennials also have implications.

Millennials are delaying marriage longer than any other generation, but they're not delaying having babies. Babies "out of wedlock" are becoming much more socially accepted, which has implications on benefits planning--as does the fact that Millennials are twice as likely as older Americans to identify as LGBT.

This changing social backdrop also requires greater awareness and emotional intelligence of future leaders to interact in an in-touch capacity.

So while no one really knows when things like self-driving cars will be ubiquitous, it's time for self-driven leaders to embrace realities already becoming ubiquitous.

It's time for the Rise of the Leader.

Published on: Jun 15, 2017
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