What the future of work means for you today

For academics and futurists, it is an exciting time to explore and imagine the trends that will shape futuristic workplaces, careers and jobs. From a business perspective, digesting and navigating the future of work is enormously challenging.

While academics can research consumer and economic trends within our worlds of work, education and life and spend time speculating about the future, business leaders are being forced to move on from prior thinking reimagining business models that meet new expectations while still meeting deadlines and achieving KPIs.

In between accommodating the disruption, innovation and technological advancements that are occurring at an exponential rate, work still needs to get done. Business plans need to be drawn and executed, key performance indicators met, profits made, shareholders kept happy, company directors need to retain control and managers need staff to be productive, doing the tasks at hand day to day to get the job done.

Complicating this difficult time is the fact we now have four generations at work. Baby Boomers, Generations X and Y have been working together for some time, but now Gen Z joins the party.

You would be living under a rock if you were not aware that now is a time for embracing the full spectrum of diversity, yet in some instances, diversity has brought division amongst workforces causing people to rethink their future. Last week one of my clients told me he is very concerned he will be overlooked for promotion because of quotas to boost female numbers at the executive level. Another is looking to change careers because she perceives her age as a negative as the workforce around her becomes younger.

With so much going on and so many global, domestic and local influences impacting the workplace, how much control do we really have when it comes to the future of work and our careers and our sustained employability?

Here are some facts:

  • A report by the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020, about 5 million jobs will be lost to robotics, artificial intelligence and automation in 15 economies, including Australia and South-East Asia.
  • Each year in Australia more than 295,000 people (2.3% of the Australian workforce) stop working in their jobs due to redundancy, voluntary or otherwise.
  • More than 2.8 million Australians are actively competing for 183,900 jobs (February 2019).
  • Nearly 70% of the workforce is actively disengaged from their jobs and the organisation they work for.

The point here is that jobs are changing, organisations and their business structures are changing, and many thousands of people are seeking change and are looking to take the next steps in their career.

The good news is it is a great time to go for it. I believe there has never been a better time to be bold and go for the career you want. Why settle for less?

With so much change happening around us, don’t let the change control you and fatigue you. Embrace this time and allow it to inspire you.

From working with hundreds of people undertaking career transition, I have learned the secret ingredients to successful career change and transition are:

  1. Mindset. You MUST adopt a mindset willing to challenge and question your approach to change and the experience and knowledge you gain during and beyond the process.
  2. Self Knowledge. You MUST know who you are, what you want and what you want to be known for.
  3. Confidence and Authenticity. You MUST believe in yourself and have the confidence to act consistently being true to self.
  4. Purpose. You MUST have career purpose and strategic intent so that you can play the long-game, turn rejection into opportunity and get through the tough times of transition.

To answer the question of how much control we have over our careers and our employability – we have a lot of control. The future of work is all about you taking control of your career today. It’s about taking ownership of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. There will of course be times when external influences impact us. However, if we are moving with purpose and confidence, authentic to ourselves and adopting a mindset that is proactive, we will have a greater capacity to respond and recover from obstacles along the way.

To help you take control of your career, here are five steps you can do right now to get started. Remember to be honest and reflect on what you have done well in the past and what you have done not so well. If we do not face our truth, we cannot move forward.

Step 1: Change your MINDSET – Take control of your future – Be proactive – not reactive

When we are looking to progress our career or facing change and transition, we can become a little out of tune and start to question what we should or should have not done. If this is you, and you are wanting to take proactive steps, draw a line in the sand right now. STOP looking at the job boards. The danger of job boards during this process is that it provokes a reactive approach. People tend to reinvent themselves to fit into a job. Another approach is to be proactive – work through who you are, your value proposition and then position yourself for your success.

Step 2: Make a list of what is not working for you in your current job or career.

Start by writing down the tasks you do (or did in your previous position) each day at work. Then note what you are trained for and your skills. Put everything on this list. This is a brain dump. Do not overthink it – write it as you would say it.

Step 3: Make a new list of what you want to DO day to day to earn a living, how you want to make an impact, what do you want to contribute to others, to society, to the economy.

For this exercise, do not think about titles. Don’t think, ‘I want to be a CEO’ or ‘I want to be a management consultant’. These are simply job titles and don’t necessarily reflect what that job involves or its impact.

Instead write down what you want to DO every day to earn a living. For example:

Analyse marketing data so that I can make recommendations on marketing strategy and customer habits for clients.

I want to prepare financial statements for business so that I can report back on the financial status of a company, guiding managers to make decisions that result in best outcomes.

I want to assist people to find their next job so that they can achieve their potential.

It is essential to realise at this point that every job has its downers. Even if you are the CEO, own your business or work for yourself, you will have items that will fall into your too hard basket; things that you simply do not enjoy doing. Put these aside for now and write down the things you want to do.

Step 4: Compare your lists.

Compare your list of what you currently do, what you are trained for and your skills, to what you want to do.

  • What are the differences?
  • What are your observations?
  • How can you move from your current situation and take steps towards your desired future?
  • Where are the gaps – in education, skills, capabilities?
  • How will your natural talents add value to this change?
  • Importantly, ask yourself – What do I want to be known for?

Write down your findings and observations so you can refer back to your observations.

Step 5: Start Now: Don’t leave it for another day…….

Reflect on the what you have discovered about yourself and how you want to move forward. Some people will have the courage to progress quickly while others may need time to consolidate and then grow. The most important thing to remember is that you are a unique individual and you have the potential to achieve whatever you want to achieve. Be strategic and purposeful as you take on this journey of change.

Empower yourself – Take control and design the future your want.

Libby Marshall

Career Transition Expert / Career Strategist


Universities Australia 2019
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Libby Marshall

Author Libby Marshall

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