the changing workplace: less solid, more fluid.

June 21, 2017 Steven Brand

Solid ground and firm barriers are melting away in the workplace. “Agility” and “flexibility” are now watchwords for HR professionals across disciplines, from talent attraction to learning and development. This shift is partly driven by what technology now allows us to do and to offer, and partly by what our candidates and employees now expect from a career experience. Knowing this, nearly half of the organizations surveyed in the latest Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends survey say they are investing in tools that enhance their candidate experience and engagement.

As a result, always-on learning systems within organizations are being developed in response to several factors we see influencing the workplace. A key example is the effective death of the traditional career path across many sectors and industries. New skills and roles rise and fall so swiftly that it is increasingly difficult to offer a newly hired graduate a detailed picture of a career path through the organization. For some, there might still exist a Partner track or more traditional linear progression structure, but for most, those days are gone or going.

The evidence of this growing shift away from the conventional corporate structure is clear. As Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report points out, only 14% of executives surveyed believe the traditional model, with hierarchical job levels based on experience, is effective.

This scenario might sound scary but is, in fact, a fantastic freeing opportunity.

Fluidity as it relates to career trajectory is essential for individuals who will need to adapt to the changing needs of the workplace, and it enables employers to be agile enough to take advantage of new opportunities. Changing expectations around tenure per role, reskilling and freelance/non-permanent work all carry potential benefits for the employer, just as much as the individual.

Regardless of your industry, it is increasingly important to bring agility into the workforce in order to adapt and to thrive. Findings from the Randstad Sourceright 2017 Talent Trends Report highlight this adoption of fluidity in a wide range of areas: the changing balance of the workforce between permanent and contingent; organizational structures being replaced by networks of empowered teams; the shift from annual performance management reporting to a more constant, less formal feedback, discussion and agreement.

We have HR technologies that enable these changes (and more), but it appears to me that this represents more of an attitudinal shift ‒ an expression of a new and freer way of working ‒ with its own challenges and threats, but inevitable nonetheless. We can be confident that a focus in the coming years will be to dismantle any walls, barriers and silos that still exist across our people management functions. How are you preparing?

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