Four Critical Trends in Work and the Modern Workforce

calendarWhen you’re in the middle of a firestorm, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. It’s tough to take a moment to think about the wider change that’s going on around you. But when you do take that breath, you often start to notice the deeper underlying trends that are coming together to change your world — possibly forever.

This has never been truer than in the world of work in 2021. The pandemic has had a huge impact on the why, where, what, and how of work. The implications for workers, partners, and customers are huge.

As we enter a world that is learning to live with a pandemic, what are the critical trends you need to pay attention to so that you can harness the energy of change — rather than being burnt by it?

Trend 1: Hybrid Working

Our research shows that 84% of organisations have accelerated their adoption of flexible working as a consequence of the pandemic! As companies begin to open up and return to the office, they have decided to retain flexible working for three reasons: 1) to maintain employee engagement 2) to harness greater productivity and 3) to attract and retain people.

Already, people are balking at the return to the commute, so finding a balance between pure home-working and the collaboration of in-office life has its benefits, especially as pure remote working has caused the growing stress of always being connected and can create a heightened sense of being micromanaged.

So, providing an environment where there is a balance between flexible working from home and having an option to be in the office, helps organisations offer a more “friendly” experience. It harnesses the increased productivity of home working as well as the social cohesiveness of working together.

Trend 2: Gen Z

According to Wikipedia:

Generation Z, colloquially also known as Zoomers, is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years. They are typically the children of Gen X.”

This is a growing demographic in the workplace which is in the throes of creating significant disruption to work — and the modern workplace is having to respond. Zoomers care about organisational purpose, equity, inclusion, and mental and physical wellbeing. And career growth is what they most want from employers. Managers will need to adapt their leadership styles to release Zoomers’ potential.

Not unlike women and frontline workers, Gen Z has suffered more than most during the pandemic. Recent research from Microsoft shows that in early 2021, 60% of 18-25 year-olds said they were struggling with remote working. As a consequence, Gen Z is finding it harder to bring new ideas to the table, get their voices heard, and feel engaged or excited about work. This has significant implications for organisations’ productivity, costs, and reputation for being a great place to work.

Trend 3: The GREAT Resignation

Forty-one percent of workers are considering leaving their current employer. Notably, amongst Gen Z the number is even higher, with more than half looking for new work.

The convergence of isolation, poor treatment during the pandemic by companies and managers, reprioritising personal goals, work-life balance, and a booming job market is creating a surge in resignations.

Whilst many organisations have managed to create a value proposition, culture, and management style that has helped them build close bonds with their people, a significant number have not. And the turbulence this causes is adding to the skills shortage that already existed across many industries.

So, the demand for attracting and retaining talent is growing and the intensity of competition for talent is disrupting businesses. It’s also disrupting HR and L&D practices. Companies are having to think differently about performance management, career development, personal development, diversity, inclusion, equity, work assignments, rewards, coaching, and employee engagement. Learning has a particularly significant role in both building the employee value proposition and enabling its execution.

Trend 4: Skills — Upskilling and Reskilling

The scale of the challenge around skills is phenomenal. Even before the pandemic, around half of CEOs reported they were not able to innovate effectively, were missing growth targets, or were unable to pursue a market opportunity because of a dearth of skills.

Our own research, carried out during the pandemic, provides some telling statistics, including that more than 65% of companies think they have significant skills gaps and that only 45% believe they’re good at understanding the skills profile of their organisation. Most companies are neither optimised, energised, nor have enough people intelligence to realise the true potential of their workforce.

However, in some early adopter companies, a skills-based revolution is taking shape. A combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and skills data is being used to automatically identify individual and team skills and capabilities, automate workforce skills profiles, and then connect them to learning, work assignments, and new jobs.

So, what should L&D teams be doing in response?

For the answer to that question, please watch the recorded webinar, Critical Trends in Work and the Modern Workforce, cohosted by Fosway Group and Litmos. We go deeper into the trends above and prescribe solutions to the challenges therein. WATCH THE WEBINAR >


About Fosway
Fosway Group is Europe’s #1 HR Industry Analyst focused on Next Gen HR, Talent and Learning. Founded in 1996, we are known for our unique European research, our independence and our integrity. And just like the Roman road we draw our name from, you’ll find that we’re unusually direct. We don’t have a vested interest in your supplier or consulting choices. So, whether you’re looking for independent research, specific advice or a critical friend to cut through the market hype, we can tell you what you need to know to succeed. More at