Four ways working will change over the next 20 years

Caitlin Morrison
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Employees will increasingly demand a wellness programme provided by companies (Source: Getty)

Robots, the generation gap and increased employee demands are just some of the factors expected to change the workforce over the next 20 years, according to new research.

The Future of the Workforce, a report commissioned by UBS Wealth Management, sets out the four main ways in which the workforce is "set to significantly change in the coming years".

These are as follows:

1. Artificial intelligence

The report states that the number of middle-skilled workers will potentially be reduced, as roles will be replaced by AI. Lower-skilled workers will likely only be partially affected "as designing AI will prove too expensive to replace their roles".

2. The end of the unified corporate culture

Three quarters of managers in companies see leading a multi-generational workforce as a significant issue, according to research from UBS' chief investment office. The report says this divide is most likely to be witnessed between Generation X, who will run companies in a similar way to their predecessors, and millennial and Generation Z workers, who hold different ideas about how businesses should operate.

3. Less loyalty to employers

Millennial workers will demonstrate less loyalty to employers and be more inclined to work as freelancers: this trend is already happening, with the number of freelance workers up 45 per cent in the past three years in Europe according to the European Forum of Independent Professionals.

Companies will have to cater for this, the UBS report states, and change the incentives they offer, moving away from traditional financial rewards to supporting employees' lifestyle pursuits. Removing the unconscious bias regarding the type of people they employ will also become more important.

4. “Wellness” programmes

Employees will expect a strong wellness programme to come as standard in the same way a pension plan and vacation time is expected today.

Data from UBS' chief investment office shows staff productivity rises by an average of 13 per cent in businesses which introduce strategies to boost levels of wellbeing from "low" to "moderate". If applied across the workforce of a typical OECD country, this could add between 0.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent to that country’s GDP, according to UBS estimates.

“The workplace is becoming far more complex," said Jürg Zeltner, president of wealth management at UBS.

"The relationship between employee and employer looks set to change significantly in the coming years, especially among workers who are currently only a short way into their careers. It is important that we prepare for these changes. Not only could they impact us, but also a number of our clients who run and own their businesses.

Companies who continue to advocate the same approach to their employee base in 10 years’ time will be at a significant competitive disadvantage. We are already changing our own business as a result, diversifying our employee base and examining different ways to incentivise and engage our talent.

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