In 2015, the way we work now looks a lot different than it did in the past. Technology has changed how we work, where we work, what we do, and even how we get paid for the work. Some of these changes are exciting while some are just confusing!
So let’s take a look at the facts about work in the 21st Century and what that means for you as an employer.
The most obvious change… Jobs Have Left the Farm
As agriculture has declined as a source of employment, the American workforce has become increasingly urban and suburban. The decline in the family farm has caused many Americans to exchange their rural lifestyle for an urban one. Over the last 30 years, the percentage of the population living in urban areas has increased by more than 10 percent to the point that 4 out of 5 people live in urban areas.
The Department of Labor
You’ve probably already realized that this shift happened, but you may not have really thought about what that meant.
Technology made it possible for farms to be larger and more efficient while requiring fewer workers to get the job done. As people left their family farms and went to the cities looking for work, they increased the workforce.
Manufacturing jobs are also seeing a decline for the same reason… machines are getting more efficient. As a result, the service industries are seeing an increase since that’s one arena that machines haven’t replaced humans just yet.
Healthcare is rising as a new top industry
According to the Labor Department, “The largest increase in healthcare and social assistance employment in the states occurred in 2009, as retail trade, manufacturing, and other industries showed declines with the onset of the most recent recession.” Health care surpassed manufacturing in number of jobs in 2004.
Wall Street Journal & Bureau of Labor Statistics
As we approached the end of the 20th century, manufacturing and retail were the leading industries. But as we moved into 2013, healthcare was the top industry. As the baby boomers continue to age, it’s expected that the healthcare industry will continue to grow even more.
The very “idea” of what work is, has changed
In February 2008, Leah Busque was headed out to dinner with her husband when she realized they were out of dog food. She had no idea that that simple need at that specific moment would eventually lead to her creating a business providing thousands of work opportunities. She registered for the domain name forthat night and four months later left her job as an IBM software engineer to start the San Francisco-based online tasks marketplace.
Huffington Post – Why Micro-Entrepreneurship May Be Key to Job Creation
Stories like Leah’s are becoming more and more common, and it’s not surprising. With all the shifts in the type of work available that we’ve already talked about, people are experiencing a freedom they didn’t have before to dream and aspire to bigger things and more rewarding work. More people are wanting to take that freedom to the next level and not have to work for someone else.
Technology is influencing this shift as well. With more work being able to be done by fewer people, a company can start small, focus on efficiency, and grow quickly into a profitable venture that employees more workers as they grow.
The Workforce is getting more diverse
The results of the 2010 U.S. Census project that the racial and ethnic makeup of the United States will undergo dramatic changes over the next few decades. In particular, by the year 2050 there will no longer be any clear racial and ethnic majority because the most rapidly growing number of residents in our nation today are of Hispanic and Asian descent
Center for American Progress
The number of minorities, including women, in the workforce is growing each year. It’s easy to understand why too. The younger generations include more people that qualify as minorities, or that are of a mixed race while the older generations of primarily white works are retiring now.
Working from home is on the rise
A growing number of Americans are working from home. Whether they are self-employed entrepreneurs running small accounting services, or telecommuting for multinational consulting firms, some 30 million of us work from a home office at least once a week. And that number is expected to increase by 63% in the next five years, according to a study by the Telework Research Network.
An estimated three million American professionals never step a foot in an office outside of their own home and another 54% say they are happier that way.
Forbes – One in Five Americans Work From Home, Numbers Seen Rising Over 60%
Again, we can credit technology for the shift. More people have access to high-speed internet and that number is only increasing. Cloud-based systems like Google Apps, Switch, Skype, and Dropbox, make it easy for teams to communicate across distances and everyone stay on track.
And most people that are working from home are happy with their jobs. They enjoy avoiding the daily commute to the office, greater flexibility and control of their day, an increase in productivity. They also save money and have healthier food options since they are at home and can cook in their kitchen.
Being connected is stressing out your workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. workers who email for work and who spend more hours working remotely outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience a substantial amount of stress on any given day than workers who do not exhibit these behaviors. Nearly half of workers who “frequently” email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress “a lot of the day yesterday,” compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.
Gallup – Using Mobile Technology for Work Linked to Higher Stress
With all the new technology available, more and more employers are providing ways for their staff to access their email and phone when they aren’t in the office. This has lead to an increase in the number of workers that are checking their email and doing work after their shift has ended.
While this may sound like a good thing for you, those workers are experienced increased stress levels as a result. So be careful with how much you expect them to stay connected, and provide ways/times for them to disconnect. If they are healthier and happier, they will be more productive.
We’re working longer weeks than we used to
PRINCETON, NJ — Adults employed full time in the U.S. report working an average of 47 hours per week, almost a full workday longer than what a standard five-day, 9-to-5 schedule entails. In fact, half of all full-time workers indicate they typically work more than 40 hours, and nearly four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours.
Gallup – The 40-Hour Workweek Is Actually Longer — By Seven Hours
While that might seem like a shock – it’s not all that surprising considering all the changes in how people work.
- With more people working from home and not having to commute, they have more time available in the week.
- More entrepreneurs are starting businesses and putting in more time – and most have a loyal staff that is in it with them and willing to put in time to help grow the business.
- Jobs are less physically stressful now with machines taking more and more of the manual labor from people.
- Technology makes it easier to stay connected and get work done after normal business hours.
We aren’t retiring as early
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The average age at which U.S. retirees report retiring is 62, the highest Gallup has found since first asking Americans this question in 1991. This age has increased in recent years, while the average age at which non-retired Americans expect to retire, 66, has largely stayed the same. However, this age too has slowly increased from 63 in 2002.
Gallup – Average U.S. Retirement Age Rises to 62
Part of that is due to the type of work like I already mentioned. Workers are able to use technology to make the physical requirements for a job easier. Advances in healthcare are making our bodies last longer, so we’re able to work longer in life.
But part of the reason is that workers aren’t doing enough to prepare for retirement. There is this conception that retirement will be all about travel and leisure time, but people aren’t looking at what the actual cost of living with frills is and they aren’t preparing for it according to Main St’s “You May Have A Disconnect About Your Retirement”