The Workforce Is No Longer What You Think
The traditional workplace has changed.
Within the past few years, the world of work has drastically transformed.
The once valid preconceived idea of work that we saw growing up now holds little value in the current climate.
We’re living in a time where the combination of generations and demographics results in divergent work expectations and goals.
Moreover, the world is recovering from the wake of COVID-19.
Many future work trends have been accelerated such as remote work, and corporate culture.
These drastic changes will impact the future of work.
But what was the workforce like before such drastic shifts?
Traditionally jobs were split into units with a clear hierarchy structure and often confined by physical location.
Many organisations followed this scientific management method. Where engagement was limited, and communication channels only went up not across.
However, COVID, demographics, and technology are changing the nature and organisation of work. This is evident in the evolutions in job design and availability.
Research indicates that workplaces have more widespread virtual collaboration platforms providing more remote/ work-at-home options.
These flexible and virtual workspaces juxtapose the conventionally fixed work of the past.
Although working from home has become a norm, research has shown it has had negative effects with 41% of employees stating they feel burnt out, and 23% are experiencing feelings of depression.
However, multiple organisations recognise these threats and seek to improve the workplace.
Companies are investing in human capital for a post-pandemic reality, adopting flexible arrangements for working at home and integrating more humanistic workspaces.
Four Things To Expect From The Workforce
1. Working from Home
As previously mentioned, expect remote work, however, at reduced amounts.
Studies find that 20 to 25% of the workforces in well-developed economies can work from home full time.
This is five times more work at home options than before the pandemic and results in a large change in the geography of work, such as more international-based jobs.
2. More Employee Benefits
Moreover, the pandemics influence on people has left many companies mindful of employee wellbeing.
For example, in the UK more than 80% of employers have acknowledged COVID’s effects on employees and have changed their approach to improving employee wellbeing.
Whereas, ½ of organisations in Asia are enhancing healthcare benefits to support employees.
As a future employee, you should look forward to future benefits such as more job opportunities and benefits as a result of the pandemic and the human capital acknowledgement.
3. Different Feedback In The Workplace
Although the modern workforce may seem more flexible and accommodating.
Don’t expect everything to go your way.
A recent Harvard study interviewed 54 recent graduates who transitioned into the professional world.
Many of the interviews produced the same result regarding the transition: exhaustion, confusion and dissatisfaction.
The paper found that the cultural transition between university and the professional world was the major cause of confusion for new graduates.
In university, we are given a syllabus.
A detailed guideline that shows us what to expect, the standards and requirements to produce the best possible work.
Beyond that almost every assessment, you complete will receive feedback.
Subsequently, the shift to the professional world will turn your understanding of work on its head.
Feedback shifts once you enter the professional world.
The feedback that used to be quantitative and graded turns qualitative, requiring a whole new understanding.
Factor in more remote work and new technological systems, feedback becomes even more complicated.
No longer can you walk to your professor’s office and ask for help, you will have to contact another team member or supervisor online.
Potentially, working through time zones and clashing schedules to receive feedback.
4. Workplace Accountability
Expect a difference in accountability as well.
Although, the university seeks to increase accountability, as you must be the one to make the effort and complete your work.
The word takes a whole new meaning in this modern era of work.
In university, you are accountable for yourself and perhaps on occasion a team. In a professional setting, there is usually more on the line.
Mistakes have serious implications. No longer will it only affect you.
You have responsibilities to your team, your coworkers and your company. No longer can you ask for special consideration or try to do better on your next test.
Errors are no longer learning opportunities; they may have major ramifications for your reputation and career, putting you as a young professional under a whole new level of stress.
Particularly in a COVID riddled world where numerous organisations can’t afford to have such mistakes occur.
How To Adapt As A New Graduate
More often than not people don’t like it. I for one don’t. It makes me uncomfortable if not anxious.
For years we have gone to the same place, with the same people whilst doing similar things at university, so it’s no surprise to feel nervous when entering the workforce.
Although it won’t be easy we must allow ourselves time to make this transition and recognise our fear of the unknown.
So what can we do to alleviate this pressure? My recommendation is to treat the university to work transition like any other life change.
My pro tip is to make a list of the positives and negatives you expect to emerge from this transition.
Then you can carefully think through how to deal with each of them.
Some changes will be positive such as new friends, new roles or educational opportunities and some will be negative such as the fear of the unknown and the stress of a new role.
Knowing the realities associated with change makes dealing with it a lot easier and can prepare you mentally and emotionally.
Now you’ve got an idea of what’s ahead you can start preparing.
Whether you are looking at a specific job or a specific field, understanding the norms, rules and expectations can give you a leading edge.
I’ve found looking online and utilising the free resources, whether it’s a company’s website or a written paper, can help alleviate pressure and help the transition.
Often you’ll be able to find what platforms a company may use and will be able to learn the system to prepare and feel confident working.
My second recommendation is to gain support.
I remember graduating. Closing that life chapter for the first time.
In the beginning, it wasn’t overwhelming. However, after a while, I realised the importance of my current position.
I was in the middle of a major life transition.
I was leaving a system I’ve spent my whole life in and entering something I’ve never done before.
It was terrifying.
Reaching out to friends and family helped stop me from being overwhelmed and gave me some normality in the new whirlwind that was my life.
Here is where I segue back to my recommendation. Large life transitions are hard to deal with alone.
Talking to friends and family can help things feel normal again and keep you steady in a new environment.
It’s also good to establish friends within your new place of work, try reaching out to co-workers and other new employees within your company.
Ask for advice and what to expect, this will often allow for more feedback options and provide not only connections but a support network.
Lastly, be self-aware. Know one knows everything, midst the chaos of this transition you may forget that. It’s ok to learn a new skill or develop a competency.
These things take time. Know your limits and boundaries and utilise them to improve yourself.
As a new graduate, you will be expected to ask questions don’t feel deterred to ask or seek help.
It may seem stressful to enter the workforce but certain steps can make this process into the professional world as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Psychology and Human Resources Undergraduate Student
This is a guest post by Stevie Dahlin. She is currently an undergraduate majoring in Psychology and Human Resources. she enjoys using her skills to contribute and explore exciting and relevant topics, in and outside of the university. Stevie is passionate about industrial psychology with aspirations to continue studying upon achieving her Bachelor’s.