The workplace has undergone fundamental change over the past decade and the sands are still shifting

Geopolitical realignments, sociodemographic change and technological advancements are reshaping the modern workplace and affecting businesses all over the world. Ius Laboris has carried out global research to help better understand the impact and the strategic and operational challenges of this evolving landscape, surveying 630 senior HR and legal professionals across 17 countries throughout Europe and North America, across a range of industries and business sizes.

The research has revealed that over the past year, the greatest workplace issues facing firms have been a talent/skills shortage, and an increasing demand for agile and flexible working conditions, with 49 per cent and 30 per cent of total respondents respectively selecting these as the most concerning issues.

Skills gaps across the developed world are undeniably widening – a scenario that respondents identified as their greatest recruitment challenge of the last 12 months. Huge shifts in technology, demographics, international trade and the rise of the knowledge economy have all taken their toll, but in many instances, education and training have simply not kept up. The concern here is that business growth will be stifled as employers find themselves unable to access the skills they require to flourish.

With talent proving the most concerning workplace issue, questions must be asked around what is being done to ensure adequate, highly skilled talent is cultivated, encouraged and made available. When exploring who’s responsible for encouraging professional development, and improving employee skills, interestingly, respondents to the Ius Laboris forces for change survey thought there was equal responsibility between employers and employees – with 63 per cent choosing this option.

The priorities and preferences of the workforce are equally shifting, with an increasing appetite for agility, being driven by changing employee demographics and attitudes. Technological advances have further precipitated a drive for more flexibility and workplace autonomy – which could in itself serve as a potential solution to the talent problem, opening up and facilitating a more globally mobile workforce. The research found that 28 per cent of total respondents ranked access to more skilled workers or a ‘greater talent pool’ as the greatest benefit of global mobility to their workforce.

The impact of technology on the workplace will further affect efficiency, through the automation of more mundane tasks previously carried out by humans and through its enhancement of employee management and performance – with 82 per cent of total respondents somewhat or completely agreeing that ‘the power of digital and data analytics will help to transform the HR function and enhance their understanding of how employees work’.

This report will unpack the rising demand for flexible working, the talent shortage, the effects of innovative technologies and other ‘forces’ inflicting change on the modern workplace – from regulation to sexual harassment. It will contrast the levels of disruption each force for change will inflict on the workplace against the respective preparedness of global businesses to deal with them, outlining the key focus areas for modern business, to adequately prepare themselves for the future of work.