Whether it's the rise of ChatGPT, the ongoing development of the Metaverse, or algorithms that impact everything from what we see on social media to how we order food, everywhere we go and everything we do is blanketed in technology. Yet, we’re discovering that if we left everything to machines and technology, we’d all get identical results, products, and activities. So, amidst the growing digitization of work and the workforce, we are seeing that humans are still the catalyst to the future.
In ManpowerGroup’s 2023 workforce trends report, The New Human Age, we’ve identified 14 key trends shaping the future of work and impacting today's employers and the people they employ. These include four key forces: shifting demographics, individual choice, tech adoption, and competitive drivers. The report also provides guidance on how employers can attract and retain talent in this new age.
Let’s take a closer look at the forces and trends shaping the world of work in 2023 and beyond.
The rise of the Gen Z workforce has forced organizations to take a long, hard look at how they cater to younger workforces. Employers need to adapt to the shifting expectations of Gen Zers, who will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. Gen Z is continually raising the bar about issues ranging from diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) to climate change, with 52% of Gen Z workers saying companies are not doing enough on environmental issues.
Despite the rise of the Gen Z workforce, with aging populations hitting retirement age every day, we are witnessing acute talent shortages and reduced labor force participation in many countries that cannot be overcome by simply employing younger people. Countries with early retirement rates, such as France and Switzerland, are finding their talent pool drying up. Yet, only 19% of hiring managers are actively looking to hire returning retirees, creating another disadvantage for older adults.
This shows that focusing solely on one generational age group or demographic will severely limit a business's ability to recruit talent from a wide range of diverse and skilled talent pools.
In the wake of the pandemic, people of all ages and genders are seeking employers who acknowledge and actively support a healthier work/life balance. The majority of workers (81%) say the pandemic has affected how they think about work, while three in 10 workers and nearly half (42%) of millennials want more work-life balance. 31% of workers would take another role in the next month if it offered a better blend of work and lifestyle. Yet, despite the growing importance of candidate and employee voices in the workplace today, more than six in 10 (66%) feel their employers have all the power to determine where they work. That dynamic is creating a power struggle as 64% of the workforce would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office full-time.
On issues of gender, this is paramount. In the United States alone, more than 1.7 million women left the workforce during the pandemic. As of December 2022,1 million women still have not returned. Many have new life priorities, and existing work expectations don’t necessarily fit that lifestyle.
During the recent Women in the Post-Pandemic World of Work panel at the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ManpowerGroup Chief Commercial Officer and President of North America Becky Frankiewicz addressed directly what women are now looking for at work.
“Women believe companies should be doing more. They are burned out. They're feeling undervalued and underappreciated. They want autonomy on their terms,” says Frankiewicz. “They want equality in pay, fair pay for fair work, and fair pay for the same work. And they want empathetic leaders and managers who take the time to get to know the challenges they're having both in and outside the workplace.”
Work is no longer one-size-fits-all, it’s now one-size-fits-one and organizations need to understand and recognize just how different the needs are on an individual, case-by-case basis.
People are beginning to acknowledge how much technology and innovation have improved the world of work — it’s no longer accurate to think of “human vs. automation.” Most workers (63%) say technology has made work better. In fact, 63% percent of frontline workers are excited about the job opportunities technology creates, with workers in executive or senior roles (74%) and American employees (71%) reporting feeling most positively about technology in the workplace.
The challenges now lie with organizations, who need to use the power of technology to rehumanize — not dehumanize — the workplace. As work during the pandemic showed, less than half (46%) of employers believe in-person brainstorming generates the most creative ideas. That’s in line with what people reported since their main motivations to come back to the office are for social interaction (39%) and efficient collaboration (26%).
As tech helps to remove barriers and borders to work and accessibility, employers must recognize the benefits of augmenting their workforce with tech. Doing so will open up a world of possibilities to find new, and exciting ways of working in the coming years.
Skilled workers have always been highly sought-after, but today the demand is more acute than ever, with 75% of companies globally reporting difficulty recruiting. In ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions’ (TWI), the top three overall markets for skilled talent are the United States, Singapore, and Canada. Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Switzerland fell out of the top 10 markets, primarily due to aging workforces.
Additionally, one of the three most important strategies for growth is managing geopolitical risk, and 90% of companies are planning to invest in onshoring or nearshoring manufacturing facilities as they seek to de-risk supply chains with alternative sourcing.
In an increasingly borderless world of work, staying competitive in a digital-first global economy, access to highly skilled talent is a distinct competitive advantage. And organizations will need to meet that talent wherever they are.
Technology May Be the Great Enabler, Humans Are Still the Future
Humans have always adapted to new technologies and better ways of doing things. As the saying goes, history repeats itself. And the pandemic taught us again that we can make extraordinary progress if we come together — it is the combination of innovation, technology, and human ingenuity that will help us overcome the biggest challenges.
Now, as we embark on a New Human Age people are utilizing technology and digital tools to enhance human connections, be more productive, and live more meaningful lives. By equipping people with the skills to leverage technology, we can create a future of work that is closer to what workers of the future want; it is how we will build a path for all to increase prosperity for the many, not the few.