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4 Reasons Why You Need to Care About Creating the Worker of the Future Right Now

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.” While I’m no philosopher, he certainly got that right! Just compare our world now to Heraclitus’s time. Hell, a lot has changed since I entered the workforce – and I’m no dinosaur!

So if we know the world is constantly changing and will continue to change, why do we keep putting things off for the future? Why do we keep telling ourselves that when the workplace of the future finally “arrives” we’ll just figure out how to adapt? Why are we not prioritizing developing our employees, our companies, and ourselves NOW so that we can make sure we WIN in the future?

As we’ve been talking about the worker of the future, you might have thought to yourself, “Okay Dan, I hear you, but why I should care about this right now? What’s so different about this moment in time that I should drop everything and shift my focus to worrying about a future that’s not even here yet?”

For starters, you don’t need to worry about the future if you’ve done the work to prepare for it. It’s only those who haven’t put in the time that need to worry! But to answer that question, to discuss why it’s so important that we care about creating the worker of the future right now, we have to look at a few things that are true about this moment in time:

Key Industries Are Being Disrupted

My wife is a Realtor and a damn good one at that. But whether real estate agents will eventually go the way of travel agents and she’ll be out of a job is up for debate.

“It’s a people industry,” they argue. “Nobody wants to buy a house from a computer.”

Well most people never imagined we’d push a button to have a perfect stranger come pick us up at our house and look where we are now.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Where there’s a need, or where we can create a need, there’s opportunity. Every industry has its own pockets of opportunity that could lead to significant disruption and choosing to ignore this fact is the equivalent of burying your head in the sand and pretending like it isn’t happening.

Every industry that hasn’t already been disrupted is ripe for future disruption. And the industries that have already changed will continue to do so. Speaking of Uber, I recently learned that in response to companies like Bird and Lime offering alternative, on-demand transportation options, Uber has also gotten into the scooter-sharing game. It acquired Jump Bikes in April 2018 to the tune of $200 million. Because even the disruptors can become disrupted!

We’re More Connected Than Ever Before

A 2015 study by Bank of America found that 71% of smartphone owners sleep with their phones either on their nightstand, in their bed, or in their hand. That figure is likely even higher now! The fact is, for the majority of us the phone screen is the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning.

And do you know what’s on those phone screens? Apps. Facebook. Instagram. Gmail. What’s App. Slack. All these things that allow us to be connected to others 24/7/365. This connectivity has not only dramatically changed our personal relationships, it’s changed the way we work.

Walk into an office six or seven years ago and it wasn’t unusual to find that most companies had a policy about their employees having their cellphones on their desks. Now? Bosses are sending their employees Instagram DMs and expecting them to respond if they’re on the clock. Or not on the clock because the lines between where our workday begins and ends have become incredibly blurred.

Used to be that every business had the same forty-hour workweek to get things done in. But now that we are all connected at the push of a button, it is always game ON.

The Speed of Life and the Speed at Which Things Change Has Increased

You’ve probably heard this old riddle before:

“There is a pond with lily pads in it. Every day the amount of lily pads in the pond doubles. If on the 30thday, the pond is completely full, on which day was it half full?”

The answer? The 29thday.

Just like those lily pads, the rate of change has been growing exponentially for hundreds of years and we are now at that 29thday! Earlier I mentioned how much had things had change since the time of the ancient Greeks. Now think about this: the first personal computer arrived in 1975, the Internet in 1991. Now we carry an Internet-connected computer around in our back pocket and use it to share cat videos with our friends on Facebook. How’s that for rapid change?

This culture of disruption and the increased connectivity between each and every one of us means that the speed at which things change will only increase. If you can’t keep up and your competitors can, you will lose. Period.

Trust is More Important Than Ever

It only takes one tweet with a screenshot of a supposedly private conversation to go viral and ignite a PR firestorm for your company. If we do not do right by our customers and convince them at every opportunity (and I mean every opportunity) that they can trust us, we open ourselves up to enormous amounts of risk. Your customers have a choice about who they buy from and who they work with. Companies do not have the power anymore. Consumers have all the power.

But it’s also not just about the customer. Employees want to work for companies that are real with them. And if you don’t deliver, they will find another company who can. It’s that simple. So you better pay attention and give them what they want because employees matter. Yes, you need the customer to buy from you, but it’s the employee that handles the customer and delivers the experience that gets the customer to come back and tell all their friends.

So now do you agree that it’s time we shift our focus to attracting, creating, and retaining the worker of the future? Because if you don’t, then whatever you’re prioritizing instead isn’t going to matter in five or ten years. Your company will struggle and probably get crushed by the competition who figured this out and made it a priority.

 

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