I care about the future of work because I have always been fascinated with how people earn money and the jobs they hold.
I grew up in a family that valued household chores, so I got a job washing cars in my neighborhood when I was nine years old.
Often I am asked (by my parents no less) what the next few years will look like in the job markets. I used to work at Indeed, the employment-related search engine, and spent a lot of time thinking about how people will work together - and in companies - in the future.
Specifically I am asked: What will change?
Alas, I can’t predict the future.
But what I think is an equally interesting question – although one that is all too often overlooked – is what about the future will not change? In other words, what will look the same today as it will next month, or next year?
I believe how companies attract and retain talent will change. But some of the methods used today will remain constant.
I have observed how hundreds of firms attract new workers successfully. And I have boiled down the key learnings from their job postings and hiring pages. From them, I have extracted learnings that are useful if you are looking for a job or if you're a hiring manager looking for workers with technical skills.
I want to share these lessons with you.
#1. Companies will need to offer new and differentiated employee perks and benefits.
When looking at tech-centric job openings at companies today, it is common to see perks like “office dog” or “unlimited cold brew” or “team happy hour”. These keywords appear on many job descriptions as benefits of employment.
But in the era of COVID-19, it is painful to see job postings that are misaligned with how staff spend their time.
I have hired staff that works remotely and know that their needs are in many ways different from traditional office workers.
Welcome packages, a personal budget to optimize a home office, or a food delivery account are probably better aligned with what remote staff want.
Companies must think holistically about their benefits packages and ensure that they are relevant to today’s workforce.
As companies become more in tune with what workers care about, they're changing their hiring policies and interviewing strategies to accommodate remote talent. And the innovative companies will continue to offer differentiated benefits and perks to empower their staff.
An emerging perk that a growing number of firms are offering is in-house technical training and upskilling.
Helping staff develop and grow not only keeps ambitious workers around longer but it deepens the human capital and intellectual property possessed by the firm.
I have one friend who works at a company that is giving staff “time off” to learn how to create e-commerce sites and chatbots.
If you are a builder and creator, can you think of a better retention perk?
#2. Companies will embrace authenticity culture so that workers can bring their whole selves to work.
Mark Zuckerburg, best known for co-founding Facebook, made the hoodie popular among tech workers. While Silicon Valley has long valued a more informal culture, non-tech companies from Main Street to Wall Street are evolving as well.
Fewer people are shopping for suits and ties. Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank, filed for Chapter 11, a form of bankruptcy that involves a reorganization of a debtor's business affairs.
When Tim Cook, the American philanthropist and Chief Executive of Apple recently made a press announcement that Apple would produce one million face shields a week, he did so in a cotton t-shirt from his home office.
Such informal attire would have been unrecognizable at Apple in years past.
In order to attract and retain technical workers, companies will need to embrace talent in a holistic manner. From how they dress to how they vote, workers will demand that companies let them bring their whole selves to work.
Many large technology firms - including Indeed, Google, and Facebook to name a few examples - have internal resource groups. Amazingly, these groups - designed to bring people with similar backgrounds together - are all too often not used in job postings or recruitment efforts.
If your firm doesn’t have resource groups, it should consider building them out. If your firm has resource groups, it should consider telling prospective staff about these communities.
If a firm wants to attract and retain technical talent, it will need to embrace authenticity culture. Companies will want to bring their culture to the forefront of why their workforce is unique and exceptional.
#3. Salary and job structure will continue to matter but so will holistic compensation and autonomy.
My parents, and many of their generation, valued jobs that had predictable compensation, simple to understand benefits packages, and structure.
It is well documented that baby boomers spent far more time in jobs and changed roles less frequently than members of today’s workforce. A pension, a once common corporate benefit, is now a rarity.
I don’t see people, or job postings, focusing less on money. Rather, I do see that job seekers want more holistic compensation packages (time off, mental health services) and increased autonomy.
I recently heard a peer state the following about his manager: “She is great because she is entirely hands-off in her approach to how I run my book of business. I give her updates but it’s my product to take to market.”
His freedom to take the actions he deemed in the best interest of the business was a currency that made him value his role more.
Today, innovative firms are attracting and retaining staff by offering childcare stipends, monthly food or health benefits, or pet adoption policies.
One innovative startup is offering its technical workforce access to virtual games. By encouraging staff to play games and understand the mathematical models behind games like solitaire, the firm can help their teams develop new mental capacities in a fun way.
The future is yet to be written. Labor markets, like technology, are constantly evolving.
Even though there are more workers than job openings, some sectors of the labor market are seeing red-hot demand. This is particularly true in the fields of cyber-security and Information Technology.
That is why re-conceptualizing how to hire and attract staff is so important: if you can’t predict the future you need to be well equipped for anything the future holds.
The heuristics one will choose to find a great job are unlikely to change. People will want a good salary, a good manager, and a good culture.
What will change is how we work, the mediums we use to communicate, our attire, and the underlying values underpinning work culture.
Companies need to be aware of these changes to retain the best staff and to keep these workers motivated and in their roles.