Category Archives: entrepreneurship

Predicting the Future Workplace Today

As the dawn of a new year fast approaches, many people are thinking about what changes are ahead of them for 2018. In HR that may look like addressing sexual harassment policies and procedures, moving away from passive hiring or beefing up cybersecurity systems. But what about changes in the more distant future, say 2030 and beyond?future technology

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently released an extensive report entitled Workforce of the Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030. The report is based on research from PwC and the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at the Said Business School in Oxford, United Kingdom, and a survey of 10,000 people in China, India, Germany, the UK and United States.

The results from the report “provide insights into how people think the workplace will evolve and how this will affect their employment prospects and future working lives.”

PwC presents four possible workplace scenarios, categorized as different worlds: yellow, red, green and blue. Each world details what’s important to the employers and employees, the impact of technology and the role of HR.

The yellow world focuses on humanity. Ethics and fairness are highly emphasized and both employers and employees seek out meaningful work. Technology in this world has been utilized to provide easy access to crowdfunding capital, which has helped entrepreneurial companies thrive where corporations once ruled. The issue with technology in this world, however, is one we may start facing soon: automation of jobs.

There doesn’t seem to be space for an actual HR department—the role, as we know it today, is held by company leaders or worker guilds (think medieval trade associations).

In the red world, innovation is king; specialists and niche profit-makers thrive. Specialized skills are highly sought-after, and companies are lean. As new products and businesses are developed in the blink of an eye, regulation lags, making the high-risk red world fast-paced and highly competitive.

HR doesn’t exist—automation, outsourcing and self-organizing teams have replaced it entirely.

Capitalism is at the core of the blue world, but the workforce is scarce. Exceptional talent is highly prized and human effort is pushed to its limits through physical and medical biotechnology, creating a “new breed of super-workers.” Companies obsessively collect personal employee data to predict performance and risk by monitoring the performance, health and well-being of every employee at home and at work.

HR plays a large role in this world and uses advanced analytics to determine performance and retention issues and predict future talent.

Like the yellow world, the green world focuses on humanity first. Green world organizations have a strong social conscious and sense of environmental responsibility. Natural resources are scarce and international regulations grow. Technology is important in this world because it helps protect resources and reduce environmental harm. Unfortunately, just like the yellow world, reliance on technology and automation may make human jobs obsolete.

HR has a major responsibility to not only create an environmentally- and socially-conscious culture, but also protect the company from “sustainability and reputational risk.”

Though these four worlds may feel a little like the Hunger Games, nothing within them is too far-fetched; we’re already seeing some of these changes now with automation and technology.

To prepare for whatever color our workforce becomes, leaders need to act now and plan for dynamic changes. PwC recommends that companies keep abreast of artificial intelligence and automation trends because advances in technology will rapidly and significantly impact everyone.

The most important takeaway, besides being proactive about preparing for the future, is to help quell employees’ fear of automation. Employees are less likely to embrace change if they think their jobs are on the line.

To remain productive and competitive, employers should begin thinking about how they can protect their people. PwC suggests fostering agility, adaptability and skill sharing so that employees feel secure even as the world quickly transforms around them.

Millennials: Not So Entrepreneurial

Earlier this month I wrote about some surprising research that suggests many millennial workers defy the slacker stereotypes and are apt to be workaholics.

ThinkstockPhotos-485914233Here’s another surprise: It turns out that millennials are shaping up to be less entrepreneurial than previous generations, too. That defies not only the general preconception about this generation, but the millennial self-image as well.

Add these findings together and we may be getting a glimpse of the future: Millennial workers, if treated right, may turn out to be more industrious and loyal to their employers than anyone imagined.

The entrepreneurship data came early this year in a study by the Small Business Administration that didn’t get as much attention as it deserved. Credit goes to the Economic Innovation Group and EY for highlighting the data in September along with results of their own survey of millennial workers. (Hat tip also to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog for reporting this first.)

millennial-entrepreneursSBA economist Daniel Wilmoth’s study, published in February, used Census data to look at self-employment rates by age for three generations: millennials (born after 1981), Gen-Xers (1963-1981) and baby boomers (1944-1962). In short, he found that self-employment rates declined for each succeeding generation (see graphic above) .

“At age 30, less than 4 percent of millennials reported self-employment in their primary job in the previous year, compared with 5.4 percent for Generation X and 6.7 percent for baby boomers,” Wilmoth writes.

Of course, self-employment isn’t quite the same as entrepreneurship. And each generation grew up in different economies, with different technology. And we don’t know what may happen as that generation ages. But I think this research provides persuasive — and surprising — insight into millennial workers.

Those of us who  — ahem — happen to be in an older generation may not be the only ones surprised. Millennials might be as well. The Economic Innovation Group survey found that 55 percent of millennials surveyed believe their generation is more entrepreneurial than those that came before.

And 62 percent said they’ve considered starting their own business. But 42 percent said they can’t afford to take that step.

Little wonder: It’s well known that millennials have higher student-debt loads that previous generations did at comparable ages, and that their entry into the job market often was hampered by the Great Recession.

So it’s not unreasonable for employers to be optimistic about millennial workers. They may not turn out to be the job-hopping, disengaged, self-centered population some have imagined. If nothing else, this number from the Economic Innovation Group survey should be encouraging: 88 percent of millennials agreed that “hard work is an important factor to get ahead in life.”

 

 

 

 

 

Are Job Seekers Saying No to Entrepreneurship?

Despite all you’ve heard about the rise of the entrepreneur and the growing number of young job seekers striking out on their own 451846939 -- younger workersrather than adhere to today’s workplace status quo, Challenger Gray & Christmas says not so fast.

The Chicago-based outplacement and career consultancy posted on its site recently a somewhat surprising report indicating job seekers today are actually risk-averse and are shunning entrepreneurship, even in this much-improved economy.

“Now that the economy is finally hitting its stride, one might expect a surge in start-ups,” says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of the company. “While the percentage of unemployed managers and executives starting businesses has, in fact, increased, the survey results suggest that the severity of the recession [albeit over] had an adverse impact on would-be entrepreneurs, who appear to be far more sensitive to risk.”

Given the bulk of job seekers and newly-hired workers are younger — and given the results of a recent EY survey that Senior Editor Andrew McIlvaine posted about on May 7, finding millennials are getting fed up with the lack of flexibility in the current workforce — you’d think more of them would be setting out on their own.

Granted, the gradations in the Challenger report are fairly small, and it does indicate the numbers of entrepreneurs have, in fact, gone up since 2011:

“On average, just 5.1 percent of unemployed managers and executives started their own business in 2014, according to [the] quarterly survey of job seekers who found a position, pursued self-employment or retired.

“The 2014 start-up rate was down slightly from 2013, when it averaged 5.5 percent per quarter. However, both 2013 and 2014 rates were significantly better than the two previous years, when start-up activity averaged 4.2 percent in 2012 and 3.2 percent in 2011.”

But numbers are numbers, and 5.1 percent of unemployed Americans starting a business, in this economy, is surprising.

Especially considering all we’ve heard about the new age of self-employed self-starters … like this fairly recent account on the CNBC website. From the writer’s vantage point, there’s a whole lot of movement away from traditional employer-employee relationships. As the piece puts it:

“Watching the enormous success of companies like Facebook and Google — started by founders who were barely out of college — has dramatically altered the under-25’s sense of when it’s ‘right’ or ‘appropriate’ to pursue a good idea.”

It includes examples of some recent start-ups, some outside the United States, but not the numbers Challenger Gray & Christmas gives us.

Perhaps, as this HRE cover story from a year ago, “Leap of Faith,” suggests, maybe we’re not seeing as many entrepreneurs taking their dreams on the road because more employers are recognizing the power of innovation within their workforces and workplaces.

And maybe, for those millennials who want more flexibility but are staying put anyway, “intrapreneurship” is trumping work/life … at least for now.