27th April 2023

The future of work trends and how to prepare for them

What are the major workplace trends and how can we prepare for future jobs? How does Luxembourg compare to the rest of the world? Lieven Lambrecht, Head of HR at PWC, shares his valuable insights and 5 useful tips to prepare for the future of work?

1. Lieven, digitalisation and A.I. are changing the workplace. What are the major trends that you see?

People are demanding a different type of work experience.

First, people today are looking for companies which offer flexibility. This is by far the most pressing demand by employees. It is the new currency. Salary has become a hygiene factor, not a differentiator.

Secondly, they crave for inclusiveness, trust, and a strong focus on wellbeing. Ethics embedded in company values are an important, but overall wellbeing is top of mind. Work isn’t something separate from life but must fit their approach to life. People see the workplace as a place to connect and collaborate, both physically and digitally. Social meeting spaces are as important as quiet rooms, collaborative spaces are as important as home offices.

Thirdly, people are looking for purpose and meaning. Work needs to have a deeper purpose and needs to lead to a deeper level of happiness.

Fourthly, leaders need to be diverse, insightful, and emotionally intelligent. They need to care, inspire, empower, and create environments that are fun, energising and motivating. Organisations will have to “walk the talk”, not just be the best in the world but be the best for the world. Bringing measurable, societal benefits is as important as bringing financial results. Their culture, locations and practices will have to be human centric and digitally enabled.

Finally, continuous learning and development are vital to keep the people engaged.

2. Looking into the near future, what jobs will be in demand in a decade from now?

Probably half of the jobs in demand do not yet exist today or will have evolved beyond recognition.

How about a "data sense-maker” or a "cultural guardian”? It is very clear that the future will be human-led, and technology-driven.

Every job will be a mix of human specific competencies and technological savvy. You’ll find jobs today belonging to a specific domain which will cross into technology: e.g., an accountant will be as much a technologist as an expert in finance, a recruiter might have a mix of artificial intelligence and psychology studies…who knows. I would recommend everybody to master two domains, the first being your passion, the second being technology. Even if you want to become a composer, you will have to be able to work with technology as much as with instruments. The skills in demand will always be analytical/critical thinking, communication, creativity, and relationship building, no matter what role you’ll assume.

3. In terms of talent, how will Luxembourg compare to the rest of the world?

We will most probably struggle! It’s primarily a question of demographics but there are other elements compounding the issue. The economy will continue to ask for more and more participants while the competition will grow in force. Attracting talent will be harder in 10 years than now. Money will lose part of its current strength as the generations coming into the workforce are looking for more than just money and security: they’re looking for purpose in their role. Furthermore, the job will have to bring them happiness. Few jobs today are specifically constructed for that purpose.

Another prohibiting factor is that Luxembourg is not on the leading edge of flexibility in terms of labour law. Both employers and employees suffer. But first and foremost, the housing cost is preventing younger talent to come and make a career in Luxembourg. I don’t see the housing issue resolved soon. Future talent will not come to live in Luxembourg if this doesn’t drastically change. We see it now already with the slowdown of interest from Eastern Europeans. It’s only a matter of time when we will be primarily attractive to non-EU citizens.

4. How can companies optimise talent acquisition and talent retention?

If you choose the right balance between flexibility, salary, workload, purpose, development, and career growth, you will find the talent you need.

You do have to package these elements into a people value proposition you can market. However, if one of those elements is off, you will have to counterbalance with another element, knowing money is but a short-term fix and will not help you out in the long run. Retaining talent depends on the same mix but there are 2 important elements in addition: culture and leadership. The latter dictates the first. The quality and strength of the leadership will determine the culture for people to thrive in.

You cannot underestimate the role of the leader or first-line manager. Without this culture, retention becomes an uphill battle. Knowing that in a knowledge economy, the investment in upskilling the employees is very high, retention becomes the new recruiting.

5. What are your five useful tips for all our readers that want to prepare for the future of work?

5 useful tips: 

  1. Embrace the change: I know it’s an age-old adagio, but we must welcome it.  Change is constant and will be there for the rest of our working life. Remember: change equals opportunity and progress.

  2. Continuous learning : We start in a job that will cease to exist and end in a job that doesn’t exist yet. We might do 5 to 15 different jobs in our working career with potentially 3 to 10 different employers, so continuous learning is paramount.

  3. Invest in yourself! Your employability is your accountability. When entering the workforce, your university degree propels you, but as you advance in your career, your education loses its significance and becomes far less relevant.

  4. Most importantly, find happiness in your job or role. If you can’t, you’re in the wrong spot. Change asap! You will never be successful in a job you do not love. Make sure your work fits your life ambitions, not the other way around.

  5. All ways lead to Rome, even those which might lead you astray. They might not be the shortest route but may be more interesting. Take time to explore and discover. Use every opportunity to learn.

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