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How the Future of Work and the Role of Leaders is Shifting

As we return to the office full time, continue to work remotely, or adopt a hybrid of both approaches, one fact remains – COVID-19 and the restrictions it brought significantly transformed the way we work, where we work, and how we feel about work.

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In what is being labelled the Great Resignation, a record number of employees have resigned in the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 19 million workers having quit their jobs since April 2021. This has left many companies in a predicament, with managers and business owners struggling to understand why and how to stop this.

HR future report (July 2022), leaders need to respond to these changes in order to retain talent, attract new talent and revive a stressed and exhausted workforce in the post-pandemic era. However, managing change is a challenge, Managers play a vital role in keeping employees happy and engaged, but this has become more difficult with employees working remotely or adopting flexible working hours.

There are specific challenges for the UK. The skills shortage the UK is facing is largely a direct consequence of leaving the EU and creating its own points-based system. But it has been a problem in some industries for a long time even before the UK left. The UK has relied heavily on overseas labour for decades. And the effects are being felt in some industries much more than others. In addition, the UK Government have begun to invest in persuading employers to recruit and retain older workers.

According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, those aged 50 years and over saw the largest increase of inactive people among all age groups since the start of the pandemic, following a historical downward trend since records began in 1971. The number of those aged 50 to 70 years moving from economic activity to inactivity between Quarter 2 (Apr to June) and Quarter 3 (July to September) 2021 was 87,000 higher than in the same period in 2019; this increased flow to inactivity was driven by full-time workers.

When the UK cut its ties with the EU, hundreds of thousands of EU workers began an exodus. Many of these workers filled the lower-skilled job vacancies such as labourers and construction workers and healthcare support workers. In parallel with the UK’s exit from the bloc came new immigration laws, regulations and business immigration laws. The new points-based system introduced by the government, in particular, has meant that these lower-skilled positions are proving hard to fill. This is because this system is set up to attract and allow more degree-level jobs and more highly skilled workers to come in and keep lower-skilled workers out.

Mapping the future of work

To map the future of work at the highest levels, the McKinsey Global Institute considers potential labour demand, the mix of occupations, and workforce skills that will be needed for those jobs.

In their analysis, they looked at eight countries (China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) with diverse economic and labour market models, which together account for nearly half the world’s population and over 60 percent of its GDP.

These are some of their main findings from the latest report on the future of work:

  1. One in 16 workers may have to switch occupations by 2030. That’s more than 100 million workers across the eight economies studied—and the pandemic accelerated expected workforce transitions.
  2. Job growth will be more concentrated in high-skill jobs (for example, in healthcare or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while middle- and low-skill jobs (such as food service, production work, or office support roles) will decline.
  3. A few job categories could see more growth than others. The rise of e-commerce created demand for warehouse workers; investments in the green economy could increase the need for wind turbine technicians; aging populations in many advanced economies will increase demand for nurses, home health aides, and hearing-aid technicians; and teachers and training instructors will also continue to find work over the coming decade.

Future of Work Trends

The future of work has been shifting even before the pandemic but COVID-19 accelerated these trends that will continue to reshape work as the effects of the crisis recede:

1. Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, although less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak.

2. E-commerce soared, growing at two to five times the pre-COVID-19 rate, and other kinds of virtual transactions such as telemedicine, online banking, and streaming entertainment took off. And shifts to digital transactions also propelled growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs.

3. The pandemic propelled faster adoption of digital technologies, including automation and AI.

4. According to Gartner, in 2023, savvy HR leaders will turn this practice on its head with “quiet hiring” in order to acquire new skills and capabilities without adding new full-time employees.

5. Hybrid flexibility reaches the frontline workers. According to the 2022 Gartner Frontline Worker Experience Reinvented Survey, 58% of organisations that employ frontline workers have invested in improving their employee experience in the past year. About a third of those who haven’t intend to do so in the next 12 months.

6. Managers will be needing extra support as they navigate through managing employer and employee expectations. Low- and midlevel managers are now the colleagues with whom their direct reports most regularly interact, and 60% of hybrid employees say their direct manager is their most direct connection to company culture.

7. To fill critical roles in 2023, organisations will need to become more comfortable assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role, not their credentials and prior experience.

8. Many employees are still experiencing pervasive mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic, which may decrease productivity and performance, as well as increase angry outbursts, no-notice quitting, workplace conflict and sudden underperformance. Eighty-two percent of employees now say it’s important that their organisations see them as a whole person, rather than simply an employee.

At Change Corp we are working with clients to address the challenges of hybrid working.

We have developed an approach that focuses on the leadership challenges, and reflects the issues clients have communicated to us

If you want to learn more, please email us at to arrange a call to discuss how we can support you.

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Change Corp is skilled in implementing intervention that focus on team development for a new future, and which can directly address the content and delivery of learning for team leaders. For more information on our Team Leaders for the future programme book a demo in the link below

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We have also produced a FREE ‘Cultivating Compassionate Leadership’ development lesson. Follow the link below to download the video and manual

Compassionate Leadership manual and video

Contact us if you would like to discuss how Change Corp can support you in these challenging times.

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GP Strategies 2019

Fosway Group 2020