Finding and embracing my own future of work

Finding and embracing my own future of work | Mercer

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Finding and embracing my own future of work
Finding and embracing my own future of work
Calendar14 januar 2019

A personal perspective by Eugenia Naser

Have you begun to reimagine your career?

If not, perhaps you should. As the future of work approaches, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a flexible mindset and adaptability is critical to our success, and Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends report shows that over half (51%) of employees crave greater flexibility at work. In the future, I expect we all will need to reevaluate our paths as we grow into our future careers.

But what does that look like? It’s simpler than you think. Have you ever said to your manager, “I want to better understand my career path?” Whether you have or have not ever mindfully considered your own path, I invite you to reflect on how the changing world will impact with the way that you think of your career. I encourage you to consider this deeply and envision the future of your professional and working lift.

The world is changing, and so is the world of work.

Jobs are expected to change greatly in the upcoming years. How can we prepare? The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report 2018 presents some useful findings as we think about the future of our own jobs. Namely, what skills will be required, and how can I gain them today to be prepared for tomorrow?

As it turns out, some of the most in-demand skills are those that we’re all born with. WEF finds that being human, our capacity for reason, and our power to create and connect with others will be essential.

“… as ‘human’ skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will likewise retain or increase their value, as will attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving. Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence as well as service orientation also see an outsized increase in demand relative to their current prominence” (Future of Jobs, WEF, Page 11)[LA1] 

Considering this, let’s extract some key points that I personally find very relevant to preparing, converting or adapting ourselves for the future of work:

·         Be social and inclusive, because leaving aside the technology-wise aspect, the future of work is about human touch and human connection. It’s about People, Us!

·         Learn, learn, learn and like that to the infinitum.

·         Embrace change. Hold it tightly. Take yourself out of your comfort zone as much as you can.

·         Have goals, but do not stick to just one plan.

Let me offer you a metaphor. Think of your career as a tree. You could be like an ant climbing it. There’s a main path you start with that supports you and offers clear direction. But as you advance (up and to the sides), you find new and different branches. Each of them go to different heights and can look different. Some might have fruits, flowers, nothing... Leaves can fall and you with them, but you can always go back to a tree and climb again. New branches will appear, new colors… you get the point, right? Be flexible. Learning how to deal with change will be the only way to make it to the top.

Why do I tell you this? How am I living the future of work?

Some time ago, I realized that my comfort zone had narrowed so much that I totally forgot what I wanted to do besides what I thought I was good at.

I decided then that I had to do something about it and defined my priorities: international work experience, a job that offered unknown challenges, and honestly, staying at Mercer. Why this last one? Because I feel our purpose and I love my job (if not the position that I held at the time). Not sure what I mean? I’ll let Simon Sinek explain for me. Enjoy!

After reimaging my future of work, I set to making it a reality. Although my first attempts fell flat, I continued trying and failing for two years. That’s when I realized I was not betting as hard as I could and I changed my direction again.

That new bet was 15 months ago, when I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, my home town, with my husband and our two little girls. I was leading a products marketing team with Argentinian and Brazilian colleagues, supporting Latin America’s product sales in Spanish and Portuguese, and working strongly in gender parity market activities.

Where am I now? I’m writing from Warsaw, Poland, where I now live with my family of four! I’m now leading a client services team that supports clients throughout Africa alongside my fantastic Polish and French co-workers, and though we conduct our daily work in English, I promise I’m really trying to learn Polish (but it takes some time)! I’ve also taken on new challenges as a sponsor of one of the office business resource groups that works to promote cultural diversity and inclusion.

You have no idea how much I’m enjoying the branch of the tree that I am walking now. It’s been worth the wait and every fall that made me restart my path.

Now, have you begun reimagining your career yet?

 [LA1]Note to WebOps – please feature this text as a call out 

Which criteria drive location decisions? Key factors in location choice—irrespective of geography—can be grouped into four broad headings.

In another example, one can assess readiness to relocate and estimate the likely attrition if moving from one city to another. Job posting sources such as Indeed or job posting consolidators (e.g., Gartner’s TalentNeuron) generate insights on talent demand at a skill level, and LinkedIn subscription tools provide sophisticated search capabilities on available skills and certifications at the metropolitan level. Current cost and quality of living data are available from Mercer, as well as from other sources.

Counterintuitive Decisions Can Be Profitable

A comprehensive external labor market analysis reduces the uncertainty involved in location choice, especially when matched with internal labor market analysis. A location decision can be re-thought as a strategic investment, incorporating factors such as culture, growth opportunities and risk appetite, in addition to skills, availability and cost.

Ultimately, this process can result in profitable, albeit counterintuitive decisions: For example, deciding not to merge units, even though operating costs would be reduced, because that decision would help retain talent and optimize performance.


The Four Key Criteria Driving Location Decisions

Which criteria drive location decisions? Key factors in location choice—irrespective of geography—can be grouped into four broad headings:

The first relates to the labor market. What data is available on the caliber of talent? This includes diversity, technical skills, business skills, languages spoken and assessment of likely trends, based on investments in education and training and attainment levels in education? What are the demographic trends in the region, including employment rates and age profiles?

Are other high-tech companies present in the area, and would proximity to competitors be a positive or negative force? An advantage is that there will be a local supply of people with relevant skills; disadvantages include the potential loss of people to rivals and competition for talent driving up wages.

A second factor is cost, including the direct costs of hiring staff and other business costs such as transport, power and telecommunications, among others. This includes not just salaries but total remuneration, general and wage inflation, taxation (both employment taxes and corporate rates), currency fluctuations and economic incentives.

The third factor is community, meaning nonlabor factors about the location such as weather, natural hazard risks, transportation options, personal security, cultural life and quality of the built and natural environment.

Finally, business climate is an important factor. Regulations regarding labor, taxes and import tariffs are an aspect of this, as are political stability, the ease or difficulty of setting up in business, the degree and nature of union power in the region, the quality of infrastructure and levels of corruption.


Context Matters

A similar mix of criteria will be common to most location decisions. But while it is typical, for example, that the biggest individual factors are cost and labor availability, the weighting of each factor will depend upon context. For example, if a particular specialty is scarce and high-level, such as in nuclear engineering, then the question of availability of people with specialist qualifications and experience will be a decisive factor—less so in the context of a more widely available and rapidly acquired skill, such as digital marketing.

The attention to location strategy that high-profile headquarters searches have created is a welcome change. Organizations need to create a disciplined process for site decisions that factor both their existing workforce and changes in labor markets. Objective facts need to be brought into the process to help make what are often emotionally charged decisions.

This article was originally published in Brink News.