The Future of Work: How leaders can prepare

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As most of us this week are back to work, fully invigorated for the year ahead, it’s the natural time to start thinking about goals for 2018 – be these personal, business based or, as we see the lines between work and personal become more and more blurry, a mixture of the two.

One of the key themes I was involved in debating at a number of events last year was ‘The Future of Work’. With this context many organisations are looking further ahead to the next 10 years when thinking about setting goals in the more immediate term.

It’s been predicted by The Centre Online that by 2028:

  • 53% of existing jobs will be replaced by Artificial intelligence
  • 65% of jobs available we haven’t even heard of yet
  • 62% of us will live in urban cities
  • 1 in 3 will live beyond 100
  • Chinese will be the most spoken language, followed closely by Spanish


  • China will have been the largest economy for 14 years closely followed by India

So what does this really mean for the future of work and what should leaders think about when supporting their teams in 2018? With the trends towards globalisation, automation and mobility, the traditional, large organisational structured hierarchy will erode and we will see more flexible networks of people driven by purpose emerge, with a diverse range of skills to create effective and adaptable working groups.

Recently we have seen a move away from “a job for life” towards a flexible career model, with many of us often now completely changing industry and role a number of times throughout our careers. This means a lot more empowerment, a lot more learning by doing with a lot more of us becoming multi-skilled, in roles created specifically for us without a rule book to refer to.

Mirroring this trend for breaking down the barriers, the war for talent will continue to increase with competition on a global level as virtual working provides organisations with more flexibility and a wider pool to find the right skills. This works as an advantage for individuals looking for work and talent attraction and retention are going to be even more important in order for businesses to win and stay ahead.

The following 5 points are some of the most important things that leaders setting goals for the year around talent attraction and retention need to be thinking about in order to prepare:

1. We need to Inspire and be passionate about what we believe in – it’s not about reporting lines and team members ‘having’ to do things because of the hierarchy it’s about them wanting to work with leaders who broaden and help develop skills.

2. Listen to what people have to say. Encourage new ideas and face up to issues where it’s not working as soon as possible. Respect and trust are the foundations for any company.

3. Start with Questions not always straight to a decision. As leaders we don’t know everything and we are not always right. Let’s keep things in perspective by understanding issues from the point of view of teams that are closer to the issue.

4. If you don’t ask for feedback on successes and failures how can you work at pace and be ahead? Clock issues, sort them and move on. Do it regularly so it becomes a normal part of working life.

5. And most importantly, Be Human, be yourself. Communicating and cascading company messages with no personality won’t encourage open cultures. Lead with personality and authenticity, your teams will follow and believe in you.

Whether it’s 2018 or 2028 or 2038, the fundamental need to be human – to be an authentic leader in order to be successful – doesn’t and won’t change.

Happy goal setting!