How to Prepare for the Future of Work

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As employers prepare for the future of the workforce, they will face more challenges, according to a new study released earlier this month of 2,700 business leaders and 2,700 employees across the world, compiled by Oxford Economics and SAP.

The Workforce 2020 study found that only 39 percent of workers worldwide are satisfied with their jobs. This means employers will have to shape workplaces that not only fulfill their business goals but also inspire, engage and reward their employees.

Here are five ways employers can prepare for the future of work, from managing employees across different generations to adapting to new trends:

Related: How a Manager Can Promote the 'Future of Work'

1. Prepare leaders for a diverse workforce.

According to the Workforce 2020 study, only 44 percent of the U.S. executives polled believe their leaders can lead a diverse workforce.  

To boost diversity in the workplace, try to develop leaders from all backgrounds regardless of gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation. Also set up diversity training to boost awareness in the workplace.

To attract and retain diverse talent, create an environment where all employees feel that they play a significant role in meeting company goals. Celebrate all accomplishments based on performance and merit  and regularly reward all employees with surprises that everyone can share.

2. Offer more generous compensation and benefits.

Thirty-nine percent of U.S. employees surveyed said higher compensation would improve their engagement and loyalty at work. The study also revealed 84 percent of U.S. employees desire competitive compensation, 75 percent of them want retirement plans and 62 percent seek more vacation time. 

If employers want to retain top talent, they should focus more on employee compensation and benefits. In addition to offering traditional benefits including retirement plans, sick days, and vacation time, future employers may respond to requests for more flexibility during the work week in terms of when and where employees work. Companies may choose to offer the option for a staffer to have every other Friday off, work a half day or even telecommute certain days. 

Related: Why the Future of Work Is Already Here

3. Prioritize the needs of millennial talent.

More than half of the American executives surveyed hire recent graduates to fill entry-level positions and 35 percent say arrival of millennials in the workforce is having an effect on their approach, the Workforce 2020 study found.

Additionally, the study also revealed millennials want more formal training and mentoring to develop their skills.

To meet this need, I believe, employers should set up thorough onboarding programs for new millennial employees. Managers should also serve as mentors to guide millennial workers and teach them the ropes at their new positions.

4. Invest in skills training and ongoing learning.

One of the biggest fears that employees have about upcoming years is that their current skill sets will become obsolete in the workplace. Only 41 percent of employees worldwide said their employer provides opportunities to learn new skills.

Technology skills will be sorely needed in the future. The study revealed 48 percent of executives worldwide believe employees will need analytics skills and 59 percent also believe programming and development skills will be important.

To address this skills gap, employers should address the skills gap by providing ongoing training to help workers keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Training should be interactive and go beyond handing new employees a manual to read. Millennials have grown up in a technology-dependent age, expecting to receive the information they seek quickly and on the go, rather than preparing ahead of time. Training should be continuous and managers should make appropriate learning resources available for employees -- from mentors to quick reminder guides -- at all times near their workstations.

5. Use crowdsourced talent.

As businesses begin to shift to offering more services than selling products, employers will need to tap into external talent. The Workforce 2020 survey found that 83 percent of executives worldwide plan to increase use of consultant, contingent or intermittent employees over the next three years.

Crowdsourced talent lets employers to fill a need for talent on demand as their business and customer demands evolve. With the seasonal ebb and flow of business, employers can reach out to a pool of talent within a community to find temporary workers to fill positions during peak times. These contract employees or freelancers can take on projects when needed and then be released at the end of a project. This frees companies from a financial burden when there is not enough work to support a full staff.

What are some ways your company is preparing for the future of work? 

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