How to future-proof your business to attract top talent

Technology is shaping a new workforce as people are increasingly driven to more flexible and empowered ways of working.

The current landscape of work is increasingly ‘fluid’ in nature. People across the globe are rethinking how they see their jobs and how this ties in with their personal needs and aspirations. In doing so, they are helping shape the modern workplace, and it’s a very different picture. 

Companies are now faced with significant challenges around employee satisfaction and attracting future talent. From providing more flexibility in the workplace to being more purpose-driven, here are three key strategies businesses can implement to retain top talent in the digital age. 

The idea of the third space

Flexi-time, flexi-place

Assisted by seamless communication and job efficiency platforms – collaboration and productivity software, video conferencing, document sharing services – technology has created boundless opportunities and greater freedom to work and live anywhere we choose. 

The Where the World’s Moving Global Report demonstrates this growing expectation by employees, with 68% of respondents currently looking for opportunities to travel and almost half of respondents wanting to work for a company with a ‘flexi-time, flexi-place’ policy. 

Enterprise software company Atlassian are already championing this concept of remote work, by not only creating apps that help distributed teams work better together but are also practicing what they preach within their own workforce. 

Co-working spaces are more common

Head of R&D and Work Futurist at Atlassian, Dom Price speaks in the report about how this concept of work-life balance has been here long before it became trendy, however only now has technology been able to meet this demand.

“People have wanted to work in different places their entire life,” Price says. “It used to be called ‘telecommuting’ and then it became this nomadic digital workforce and now remote distributed teams, but the intent is the same… “I think the two things [human needs and technology] coming together is when we get true value.” 

Graphic design software company, Canva is also embracing this expectation for work-life balance. Whilst based in Australia, Canva allows their creatives to work and collaborate on projects from anywhere around the globe, with many of its contractors now working remotely. 

This notion of fluid work spaces could soon supplement the traditional workplace environment. Companies offering more freedom in the workplace, be that flexi-arrangements or remote work, will be better placed to engage with the ever-growing pool of talent who desire this flexibility. 

Co-living is shifting how we belong

Thriving on purpose

Changing work expectations has also led to today’s employees looking for a greater sense of purpose. And whilst purpose may be the buzzword of 2018, there are no signs of this slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the report shows 65% of global respondents prefer working for a “profit for purpose” organisation and 57% believe they will be working for one in the next five years. Evidently, businesses will need to communicate a real purpose and awareness, that extends beyond financial outcomes.

The driving force behind this phenomenon is arguably an increasing demand for social consciousness. 

“Are companies ethically minded? Do they care about their customers, their environment, their employees?”

Dom Price, Head of R&D and Work Futurist at Atlassian. Where the World's Moving Global Report

Sharing economy

‘Purpose-oriented’ companies are outperforming their competitors as they help create a shared goal and result in higher engagement among staff. Employees whose sense of personal fulfillment closely aligns to that of the employer are likely to stay with a company for longer. This is also the case for attracting future talent; people are more likely to be drawn to companies that reflect similar values to their own. 

It’s important for organisations to harness purpose and help employees understand how they are making a difference, beyond just improving their bottom line. Creating an employee engagement platform, which is transparent and provides real-time feedback, could be a great way for companies to ensure employees feel they are having a genuine impact towards the overarching brand purpose. 

Sharing economy

The collaborative workforce

Understanding the role of culture and encouraging collaboration and diversity within the workplace will also be imperative for businesses.

CEO of freelance platform Cloud Peeps, Kate Kendall says creating an engaging culture starts with the leader and then filters down into the organisation; “If the values aren’t inherent in the CEO or founder it’s really hard to change the whole culture of the organisation”, says Kendall. 

Another influential factor towards collaborative working models is the ability to trust. Now more than ever, companies will need to be more trusting of their employees and encourage greater amounts of self-learning, Kendall says. In turn, companies will look for individuals who are self-driven, externally orientated and can excel in an environment where they are given the freedom to innovate. 

With the rise of co-working spaces and independent work, Kendall suggests that we could see future organisations composed of little pockets of independent professionals coming together to work towards a greater goal. 

“The idea that they [people] have to be in their office isn’t current anymore. So, I think a lot of companies, if they really want to innovate and stay relevant, they need to change and change a lot more than they have been doing, because everything is happening at such a greater speed."

Sharing economy

Retrain and upskill

The digitally transformed workplace, characterised by advancements in AI and automation, is bringing its own challenges and opportunities for businesses. The report reflects this sentiment, with 47% of Australian respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that upskilling and education are vital for a changing work environment. This was matched in other regions; China (77%), US (57%) and UK (55%). 

Progressive organisations will need to retrain and upskill their employees to match the agility of these new innovations. As the workforce becomes more automated, opportunities will emerge for the future workplace to focus on more personalised and creative services. Yet the impact of this technology has also meant professional development and collaboration skills are an important part of ensuring employees remain engaged and resilient in the face of rapid change.

Implementing engagement surveys can be a beneficial tool to determine areas of learning and skills employees are looking to attain. Employers can then tailor training to target skill gaps, which can ultimately help their workforce navigate the tech landscape and place the organisation in a better position for the future. Constant dialogue and timely conversations with employees about performance and career development are also key to engaging and retaining future talent. 

People are craving more flexibility and a chance to make a difference in the world. They want to be more effective, not just more efficient. Ensuring companies are getting the tools, culture and policies right will have a direct impact on engagement, productivity and retention. The organisations that are succeeding, and will continue to thrive in the future, are the ones that are fast with innovation and are meeting the changing expectations of an evolving workforce.  

Where The World's Moving Global Report

The report explores what key trends are influencing today's globally-minded people.