27 September 2023

Navigating the possibilities in a changing world

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Lisa Earle McLeod* predicts three important changes that will influence the world of work through 2023 and beyond.

For many, the last three years have felt like 30. The world of business shifted rapidly.

Organisations went remote, some stayed there. We went through the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, unexpected layoffs, niche industry booms, and everything in between.

Now, with 2023 well under way, we have a chance to reflect on what’s changed and think about the future we want to create.

I want to share three (optimistic) predictions that I think can guide us into the future.

Soft skills will become more important and easier to measure

Last year, LinkedIn released some fascinating data on how to future-proof your career.

They reported that hard skills can help you get a recruiter’s attention, but soft skills can help you land the job.

More than three in five (61 per cent) of professionals say soft skills in the workplace are just as important as hard skills.

The top soft skills in demand were leadership, communication, and problem-solving.

Inherently, we know these things matter, but when the future becomes more difficult to predict, their importance rises.

I predict that with the rise of their importance, how we assess these soft skills will improve.

Anecdotally, I’ve seen a major increase in senior leaders undergoing 360° reviews and organisations teaching these foundational skills through on-boarding and continuous training.

The four-year degree will matter less

We’re already seeing early indicators of this. Recent research analysed more than 51 million job listings, looking for four-year university degree requirements.

In 2017, 51 per cent required the degree. By 2021, that share had declined to 44 per cent.

At Accenture, for example, the researchers found the share of postings specifying a Bachelor of Arts degree or higher fell to 43 per cent in 2021 from 54 per cent in 2017.

Don’t get me wrong, degrees can provide a foundational level of knowledge that’s difficult (but not impossible) to replicate, especially in more technical fields.

As much as I love LinkedIn Learning, I’d really prefer a doctor who went to an accredited medical school.

Yet, some of the most motivated, intelligent, and strategic people I know are not highly educated.

Employers are recognising that in a lot of cases, degree requirements are nothing more than a privilege-rooted barrier to entry for otherwise exceptionally qualified applicants.

Employers won’t just compete with each other for talent; they’ll compete with side hustles too

This is the direct result of the proverbial ‘steady pay-check’, once promised by a full-time corporate job, all but evaporating.

If you weren’t laid off in the last three years, you know someone who was.

If your salary didn’t freeze, you know someone’s who did.

Clocking in at your nine-to-five job once felt like the safe bet. Now, controlling your own destiny might feel (and actually be) more reliable.

From services like Legal Zoom to programs like Canva, to networking opportunities on LinkedIn, the barriers to starting a business will continue to fade.

I had a client tell me last year that he feels like everyone who works for him has some sort of side hustle.

My prediction is that many of those side hustles will make the leap to full-time hustles this year.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that no one knows what’s ahead.

What we do know, and what history tells us, is that the people (and organisations) who are willing to grow, change, and learn something new will always own the future.

*Lisa Earle McLeod is the leadership expert best known for creating the popular business concept Noble Purpose. She is the author of Selling with Noble Purpose and Leading with Noble Purpose. She can be contacted at mcleodandmore.com.

This article first appeared at mcleodandmore.com.

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