The Future of Work and Why It Matters to You

By Plum

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An Overview of the Top Trends Affecting the Future of Work and Hiring


Part One of Our "Talent and the Future of Work" Series. 

As a talent acquisition expert, you no doubt know that understanding the future of work (and how to align talent to future business needs) is central to enterprise success. But you probably haven’t received a resume from a fortune teller.

Instead, you have to rely on industry experts and trend analysis to glimpse into the Future of Work. So here’s a helpful overview. We may not be clairvoyant, but we’ve definitely got more data to go on than any wrinkled, scarf-swathed psychic.

James Manyika, chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute, has identified several major topics to consider in discussing the future of work. These include:

  • the impact of artificial intelligence
  • automation of jobs and if there will be enough work left
  • changing models for work and work structure (consider the surge in independent work, outsourced services, remote workers, and the gig economy)
  • availability of data (2.5 exabytes of data are produced every day over text, video, pictures, voice data streams and more).

Global recruitment company Next Generation’s research adds further insight into the changing world of work. They anticipate reverberations from:

  • a shift away from traditional hierarchical structures to a more flexible, flat system
  • growing inclusiveness of diverse job candidates
  • increased focus on empowering and engaging employees instead of simply expecting decades of company loyalty.


How This Transformation is Different

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a brave new era for the economy and our jobs. The industrial revolution caused urbanization, saw children sent to work in factories, and women taking on jobs in domestic service and textile factories.

In 1900, two-thirds of the population worked in agriculture or manufacturing, with 38% on farms, and 25% in factories. Today, only 1 in 10 do so.


In another major shift, the popularization of computers in the 1980s followed by widespread embrace of the Internet led to the creation of new roles, new ways of working, and fresh approaches to job searches (CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn or the “Twitter resume”).

Yet the speed at which transformation is happening is what distinguishes the current re-envisioning of the ways we work. Progress with automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics are among the technological advances accelerating the need to rethink roles, responsibilities, and recruiting.

At the same time, the sheer volume of employers and employees is staggering. Today, 130 million people are in the U.S. workforce. According to the OECD, 5.06 billion (or 66.6%) of the world’s population is working age.

The reality:


Finding a Future in this New World of Work

Those who are paying attention (you, obviously, since you’re still reading) and are willing to adapt have an audacious opportunity to get ahead of the competition. While job creation will be dependent on robust economic growth, the enterprise that succeeds will also have the vision to:

  • Provide job retraining and enable individuals to learn new skills
  • Embrace labor mobility and flexible labor markets
  • Plan ahead to provide transition assistance and invest in labor-force training.

"Some 40% of workers participate in job-related training, on average across OECD countries, but that participation often amounts to just a few hours per year."

 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

For human resources, it’s going to come down to rethinking what your workforce can do. The challenge is hiring the right people for jobs that don’t even exist yet. All your organization knows is that it needs to evolve and adapt, and you need people on the team ready to be just as nimble and creative as your business.

At Plum, we see real potential in developing your enterprise’s ability to migrate people into the right jobs while also being predictive and analytical about the real needs of your organization. Instead of thinking about work from a purely skills-based perspective, let the talents an individual needs to do the current job (or one of the many newly created ones on the horizon) have greater influence on decision-making.

To help guide your thinking, look for our upcoming blogs about preparing for the future of work. We will discuss evolving your talent acquisition and hiring practices, the value of predictive hiring, and the many advantages of adding AI to your HR.

"This has to be a human system we live in." 

Sandy Pentland on artificial intelligence, one of the founders of the MIT Media Lab, and author of the recent book Social Physics.