Blog Post
September 26, 2019

Five tech-driven trends transforming the U.K. workforce

Ross Tracey, Managing Director, Ceridian Europe outlines five of the top technology trends that are changing the world of work in the U.K.

Table of Contents

Much has happened in the 20 years since the millennium. We’ve had the dotcom boom and bust (and boom again), the credit crisis, and now Brexit is upon us. Yet, despite these massive societal upheavals, the U.K. job market has remained remarkably resilient. In fact, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates (3.8%) in the EU and the highest number of vacancies (739,000) since the beginning of 2000.

While this high demand for talent is undoubtedly positive, it also means companies and recruiters have to be more creative in how they attract, engage, and retain employees. Added complexity comes from the role technology plays in transforming the U.K workforce.

Here are five technology-driven trends driving the future of work that companies should embrace:

Trend #1: Work is what you do, not where you go

One of the most obvious ways technology has changed the world of work is that it now happens everywhere. The rise of the tech-enabled knowledge worker means employees across many sectors can work from anywhere.

And it’s not just the “digital nomads” writing code from a beach in Bali who are taking advantage of this new flexibility. With the average commute time into London at 74 minutes, for example, working from home part-time gives even regular office workers a welcome reprieve from their stressful daily commutes.

Action: In a competitive labour market, offering employees flexibility in when and where they work can help you attract and retain talent. Offering a negotiable or remote location for applicable roles also widens the available pool of candidates beyond the boundaries of your local area, so you can attract the best talent, not just the closest.

Trend #2: Employees are the new customers

Technology is driving a trend toward a more “consumerised” employee experience. In this age of instant gratification, HR teams will be expected to provide employees with an experience at work that is comparable to their experience as consumers. Big data and predictive technology have changed customer expectations in most industries, and the new standard for customer experience has begun to bleed over into other areas of people’s lives – including work.  In fact, 56% of employees feel their employer should understand them as well as they’re expected to understand their customers.

Greater focus on the employee experience also aligns with HR’s changing role of becoming a more strategic business partner. What’s more, research shows that companies that place an emphasis on employee experience have more than four times the average profit and more than two times the average revenue than companies that don’t.

Action: Best-in-class companies will attract – and keep – their top talent based in part on how well they differentiate themselves with employee-centric experiences. Invest in self-service technology tools and learning platforms that offer an experience that’s personal, tailored to employees’ needs, and seamlessly connected.

Trend #3: Data drives everything

For the better part of the last decade, data has been king when it comes to making business decisions. The next phase is for organisations to apply advanced technologies like big data and predictive analytics to the workforce. Forward-thinking companies across industries are starting to use data to drive decision-making and operational efficiency in many areas of people management.

For instance, companies can make fairer compensation decisions – critical for gender pay equity – based on data-driven insights, including performance and compensation history, tenure, and salary range. Data will soon underpin every aspect of human capital management, from recruiting to workforce management to learning and development.

Action: Data is powerful, but organisations need to use it in an integrated way across the organisation. Investing in technology that combines data from a variety of sources will enable new and more powerful uses of people analytics programs.

Trend #4: The generation gap needs minding

For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce at once. While there are trends and patterns across different demographics and groups, the generations also have a lot in common: Research from Ceridian shows that whether you are an entry-level employee or a vice president, people want to see that their work is making a difference.

While all generations want to make an impact with their work and feel that it aligns with company values, their working and communication preferences and styles can be quite different in getting that work done. A one-size-fits all approach to fostering collaboration and building teams doesn’t cut it in today’s environment.

Action: It’s important for companies to understand different generations’ needs, expectations, and motivations, and to adapt as needed. But rather than simply thinking generationally, it’s also fundamental that companies build their people strategy around the individual needs of their people.

Related: Six strategies to retain millennial and Gen Z employees

Trend #5: Tech enables the rise of teams

The way many businesses operate today is very different from how they operated even five years ago. Many companies increasingly feel the need to support and enable team dynamics and collaboration. Technology is a critical piece of this puzzle.

According to leading HCM industry analyst Josh Bersin, the team is now the fundamental organisational design principle of a company, replacing traditional hierarchical structures. HR leaders will play a key role in enabling and improving team collaboration, by redesigning their structures to be built around teams.

Action: Organisations should consider investing in technology to support quick and easy onboarding of permanent and contingent workers onto new project teams. Tech can also assist with managing new learning requirements and quick team assembly and disbanding.

Related: How a team-based model can help build the organisation of the future

The path forward

As technology continues to evolve the world of work, organisations need to understand these trends and continually adapt their people strategy. To learn more about some of the trends driving the future of work, read Ceridian’s Human Capital Management Trends 2019 report.

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