Changing Workforce Demands Diversity and Flexibility

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Today’s workforce is changing – not only with younger generations of employees but with all types of workers, especially contractors.

For author and consultant Alexandra Levit the changes are important. They are the major trends affecting the workplace of tomorrow.

She and Forbes analyst, brand strategist and TalentCulture chief executive officer Meghan M. Biro discussed why it’s a competitive advantage to have a flexible and systemized contract workforce.

“I get to work with people from allgenerations — from brand-new college grads to people in their 70s,” Biro said. “Age diversity definitely makes our workforce richer.

“We’re all going to have the opportunity to learn how to communicate with people who come from a different generation,” she said. “That’s a challenge, but honestly, it’s funand keeps me young.”

Communication will make or break workforce relationships.

“The responsibility of fostering and translating communication between the generations will fall on people in the middle,” Biro said. “Gen X, I’m looking at you.”

Levit noted that the majority of new workers are millennials — born 1980 through 1995.

“This will be true for the next decade,” she said. “It’s imperative that we take steps nowto assimilate Gen Z – born in and after 1996. The oldest are in the workforce this year.

“Generational dynamics are a real thing,” Levit said. “Being fatigued of the topic doesn’t make it less important.”

Humans and machines will work together in the future, which conjures up assorted visions for Levit and Biro.

“The future is human-machine hybrid teams, with the most basic implementation being the integration of the chatbot,” Levit said. “As machines become capable of more sophisticated tasks, humans still will need to design, oversee, fix and redeploy.

“Machines will enable humans to focus on meatier, more strategic tasks,” she said. “Predictive analytics adds insights to core processes. Automation adds streamlining, time and cost savings. Skill acquisition will be continuous, with every human needing a wider bench and the attitude to support that bench.”

For Biro, the future is now. She often thinks about the impact on human resources.

“Only all day every day,” she said. “As I’ve written before, HR leaders need to be thinking now about how humans and machines will work together.

“We all need to anticipate an augmented workforce, take the long view, and make sure we’re taking steps to support the shifts that are happening,” Biro said. “Those skilled at managing machines, tech and people will be the real leaders in the future.

She considered core leadership skills she is developing to help manage the future workforce.

“I know that staying ahead of new advances in tech — in every part of my life — is more important than ever,” Biro said. “I’m also watching how different generations’ expectations about work are changing benefits and compensation. Not all workers want the same things from work.

“I’m working on being a translator among generations and between people and tech,” she said. “These are the skills of the future.”

Levit is making a point to be flexible and bold.

“I’m working on my agility most of all — being comfortable with trying new things and risking failure,” she said. “I’m also working on empathy and acceptance. People do things differently, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

“The research shows a rise in transformational leadership, and a move away from the command-and-control style,” Levit said. “We also need digital fluency. I call these applied tech skills — knowing what tech is available and when to use it.”

Adding to her thoughts, Levit wrote an article for Training Industry, “Schooling Your Team in 4 Marketable Human Competencies.”

“My advice: Systematize your army of contract workers,” Levit said.

Jim Katzaman Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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