The world has changed and so has the way we work. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated workforce transformation more than anyone could have anticipated. Although, most changes were already forecast but came far sooner than expected. Let’s take a closer look at the trends that are shaping the workforce in the UK.
People no longer see themselves working from nine-to-five or spending four decades in the same job before retiring at 65. In response to these cultural and social shifts, businesses will need to demonstrate agility and learn to adapt. Understanding these shifts is essential to positioning yourself or your business to continue to thrive.
“The idea of a single education, followed by a single career, finishing with a single pension is over.” (UK policy maker)
For millennials in particular, job hopping is a way of life, with research from Deloitte revealing that 21% of millennial workers have moved jobs within the past year. People are also working later in life; this is partly due to the changes in pension rules. The average career exit age for men is now over 65. This means that workplaces for the first time in recent history are seeing five generations of employees all working together.
Work-life balance was already climbing the business and personal agenda even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Well-being ranked as the top trend in a 2020 study, with 80% of those surveyed identifying it as essential for success and happiness. COVID-19 cast new light on the importance of well-being and made us acutely aware of the consequences of neglecting it.
Work-life balance got voted the top driver when seeking a new employer by 65% of brits, now seen as more valuable than the salary offered for the first time in seven years. The profound changes in many people’s jobs have brought attention to the benefits of flexible working with it now a priority.
For many, remote working increased the number of hours they are connected to their employers, highlighting the need for a better lifestyle balance. At the same time, some have enjoyed carrying out other tasks or juggling personal responsibilities around a more flexible work schedule.
The Rise of AI
The rise of technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) don’t necessarily have to represent job losses, but rather can pose opportunities for successful collaboration between humans and machines. British businesses recognise this future of working together, with 66% of leaders believing AI will result in net job gains for their companies in the next three years.
Accenture research suggests that 67% of workers are eager to learn how to work with intelligent technology in the next three to five years – but only 3% of executives are offering staff training in areas such as AI, empathy, and complex reasoning. This points to a growing demand for these skills sets.
The freelance economy is booming in the UK. The Office for National Statistics reports that the total number of freelance workers increased from approximately 3.3 million to almost 5 million from 2001 to 2017, equating to nearly a 50% growth rate.
There are currently about 2,1 million freelance workers in the UK. This shift in our way of working is reflective globally as new emerging industries have led to more part-time work, increased self-employment, and casual work. The value of the freelance economy in the UK is £162bn; this is according to IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.
Research suggests that freelancers play a vital role in the economy by driving innovation and offering greater flexibility and efficiency. This has directly resulted in a boost in economic output as the freelance sector has grown. Freelancers are hired for their expertise and their ability to provide quality service. The capabilities of this highly skilled freelance workforce can be tapped into by using a virtual marketing agency, linking you with a team of professionals with widely influential skills.
Employment confidence has continued to grow with the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK. Employment intentions are now at their highest since 2013, according to Labour Market Outlook. Redundancy intentions have also fallen, with only 12% of employers expecting to make job cuts in the coming months, down from 20% earlier this year and finally dipping below pre-pandemic levels.
The labour market itself is highly competitive. New attitudes and behaviours will need to be adopted by individuals and businesses, focusing on flexibility, collaboration, and creativity. The ability to react to continuous change will be paramount to future success. Nevertheless, the overall overlook is a positive one coming out of lockdown and presents an excellent opportunity for the workforce to bounce back from adversities faced due to COVID-19.
Now that you are up to date with the UK workforce trends that are being embraced, I hope you have a better perspective of the job market and its current trajectory. It’s time to take the bull by the horns and build your long-awaited empire.
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