Out of step

Employers are out of step with the next generation of workers and failure to tune into their expectations of work and career will have far-reaching implications for people management and business success in the future.

This was the stark warning issued recently by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) following the release of new research into the next generation’s expectations of the world of work.

PwC questioned nearly 3,000 graduates, with an average age of 23, from China, the UK and the US, all soon to start work for the firm. Their responses revealed dramatic differences between current preconceptions about tomorrow’s business world and the expectations of this new generation of professionals.

The long-heralded portfolio career is, according to this group, a myth. More than three-quarters (78.4%) believe they will work for a modest two to five employers over the course of their careers, with just 5.5% expecting to work for more than 10, putting paid to the notion that future generations will be nomadic job hunters, flitting from one opportunity to the next, and instead reinforcing the preference for stability and certainty for many.

Corporate and investment bank Societe Generale is one employer taking steps to tap into that desire for a more stable career path. “We are developing an employer brand reflecting our identity as an employer and promoting our long-term commitment with our employees,” says Hughes Fourault, global head of compensation, benefits and internal mobility.

Another startling revelation is that this generation does not expect to work in a markedly more flexible way than those already in the world’s workforce. Despite the widespread push to achieve a better balance between work and home life, some 75% of graduates overall said they expect to work regular office hours, with this figure climbing to 82.5% among UK graduates.

The report, Managing Tomorrow’s People: The Future of Work to 2020, challenges businesses to address how they will attract, retain, motivate and move the people they need in the future and predicts that those who survive “the talent crunch” will be those that work to get the employment deal right on an ongoing basis.

“We need to prepare ourselves for a new generation entering the marketplace – a significantly more mobile generation with differing expectations from an employer, and we will need to adapt to this,” admits Michael Poulten, international reward manager at retail giant Tesco.

However, while more graduates expect to use a language other than English in their work and to work across international borders far more than previous generations, the report highlights one of the hard lessons of the recent past – that skills are not as fluid as businesses would like. The dream of masses of highly qualified workers plugging western skills gaps has failed to materialise.

With the fast-developing new economies of India and China soaking up the majority of available domestic talent and the revelation that people with the skills and experience desired by business do not always move that readily, businesses face a tough battle to recruit and retain talent.

“Our search for talent is now global,” says Hanspeter Horsch, associate director, human resources at Semiconductor Europe GmbH, “and the competition for talent will only increase further.”

Watch the video: ‘Managing Tomorrow’s People: The Future of Work’ – Michael Rendell, head of human resource services, PwC (Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP)

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