The Changing Workforce
Operations | By Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC | Aug 22 2018
Don’t look now, but the workforce as we know it is changing.
Thanks to an ever-evolving digital landscape, companies and employees are reshaping the traditional employer-employee relationship into a more adaptive one. Gone are the walls and cubicles, replaced by remote work arrangement and IT-powered connectivity that rivals the face-to-face relationship.
A 2016 Global Challenges Insight Report, entitled “The Future of Jobs” and produced by the World Economic Forum, reveals that changing work environments and flexible working arrangements are the top drivers of change in the global workforce, ushering in what experts are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Report reveals that technology is driving that transformation, empowering companies to reach beyond established borders.
It’s a trend that is being embraced by workers at each end of the employment spectrum. A PwC NextGen study reveals that 64 percent of millennials surveyed want to work from home even occasionally. Gen Xers and Boomers, the study shows, are 66 percent more likely to embrace working from home, and 82 percent of all respondents say they would be more loyal to their employers if they were given flexible work options.
It’s a business model that’s increasing in popularity and use. According to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, 43 percent of today’s workforce performs all or part of their work from home.
The Changing Employee
Yet the changes don’t stop there. Today’s workforce demographic is also evolving. A report by Shift: The Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology shows that nearly one-fourth of the current workforce will be 55 or older by 2024. Veteran workers are staying on the job longer.
That job longevity is also reshaping what retirement looks like and when it will happen. In fact, the Report concludes that it’s older workers — not millennials — who are the fastest-growing segment of today’s workforce. And they’re not so interested in stability, but rather focus more on doing things that they enjoy, says the report.
That includes redefining their work arrangements. The Shift report says older workers are more likely to be working via alternative work arrangements — freelance, consulting and remote work — and in occupations that are predicted to shrink thanks to automation as artificial intelligence takes over and there is less work for people in any number of jobs.
Yet are companies ready to embrace the veteran employee population? They should be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that this year, over 200,000 open positions in the insurance industry alone will go unfilled. And 25 percent of the current insurance workforce is expected to retire in 2018, according to Insurance Business America. Worse — BLS estimates that 693,000 current insurance professionals are aged 55 or older.
The younger generation may not be the answer. Millennials, says a study by The Hartford, simply aren’t interested — just 4 percent of today’s millennials are showing interest in an insurance career. With millennials comprising 40 percent of the working population, that’s a sizable gap in talent. The insurance industry could benefit from a different approach to staffing.
That approach: re-engaging older workers in remote working arrangements. The veteran workforce can bring any number of benefits to the insurance industry. Some of those benefits include:
- Unrivaled skills and knowledge: Veteran workers have a depth of industry knowledge that only decades of work experience can bring.
- Engagement: Veteran workers value what they’re doing, particularly those who have signed on for remote work. They’re engaged — when you hire a remote worker, you’re getting a worker who wants to be there.
- Productivity: A Stanford/Ctrip study shows remote workers to be 13 percent more productive than on-site workers, working 9.5 percent longer than those based in the office.
- Easy onboarding: most veteran workers require little, if any training. The complexities of the industry are their forte. Learning your management systems usually takes a few days to a week, if they aren’t already familiar with it.
- Affordable consultancy: Older workers have vast networks and deep knowledge of the industry. Many are able to advise on complex issues.
- Large talent pool: Finding exactly the skills you need becomes much easier. The entire country is your talent pool. Without geographic boundaries, you can find the right-fit candidate, even if they’re four states away.
- Mentoring capabilities: Veteran workers have honed their soft skills — relationship building, customer service, networking — and can help in-house staff improve results.
- Low or no overhead: Older remote workers don’t require office space nor do they necessarily require benefits. Also, older remote workers can be hired on either a full-time or part-time basis.
- Exceptional talent: Probably the biggest benefit companies and accounting firms get from hiring a veteran worker in a remote arrangement is the level of talent available. Veteran workers come with a career’s worth of experience. With a remote worker, you get a highly skilled, tenured professional — the same kind of professional that companies struggle to hire and retain. Without borders, talent searches are more able to locate the best candidate based on your own company’s requirements.
As digital technology continues to reshape the way in which we conduct business, our workforce will continue to evolve, as well. Companies and employees can capitalize on this redefining of the traditional workforce by adopting a more flexible approach to business. For employers, that flexibility can help stave off the looming talent shortage and keep business on track and competitive simply by considering the value veteran workers bring to the table. By engaging older workers in remote work arrangements, companies can tap into a wealth of talent and knowledge that can drive exceptional productivity.
About the Author
Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, is president & CEO of Work At Home Vintage Experts, an innovative contract staffing talent solution. WAHVE matches retiring insurance professionals leaving the regular workforce to insurance firms to meet their full- or part-time staffing needs. Insurance firms benefit by improving productivity and lowering costs. WAHVE’s unique qualifying process and technology platform match the right “pretirees” wherever they may live to the needs of insurance firms wherever they are located.
WAHVE bridges the gap between insurance firms’ staffing needs and seasoned professionals’ “work-life” balance preferences as they phase into retirement.
You can reach Emek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.807.4372, ext. 3754.