Helen Roberts, founder of Start Up Richmond (a CPG Executive Consulting Ltd company) explains why it’s important for businesses and individuals to continually evolve and adapt in order to stay relevant to markets’ and employer’s changing needs
In the last 10 years more technology has been created than ever before. It has fundamentally changed the way we do business and live our lives. The challenge for businesses is to keep up, to embrace technology to ensure they stay relevant. The challenge to individuals is to ensure they continue to learn new skills to stay relevant to employers’ evolving needs. Businesses that don’t adapt are unlikely to survive. People that don’t continue to evolve, will find it increasingly difficult to find employment.
Can you imagine today’s businesses using dial up phones, faxes and old mainframe computers? When I started my first business, that’s exactly what we used. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but in tech terms, it’s a life-time.
The whole landscape of doing business has changed. The type of business we do, the way we do it and the people we employ. Many jobs from a few years ago no longer exist and, 10 years from now, even more roles will be wiped out due to increased artificial intelligence (AI).
Record numbers of people are starting businesses today in the UK (around 600,000 every year). The trend has been upward since 2011. On the one hand, there’s never been a better time to start a business in terms of the support that’s available, but on the other, it’s never been so competitive. It really is survival of the fittest.
With more large businesses utilising technology and AI, the number of employees required has fallen as routine jobs are replaced by robots. People working in routine jobs are being moved in to non-routine roles or made redundant. For those who have not continued to develop and upskill, it is proving difficult to find new employment.
What can we do to successfully navigate this continual wave of change inside our business and in our career?
The first area to consider is the technology we use in our business. Is it fit for purpose? If not, what alternative technology can be utilised to give us an advantage?
Examine core functions like sales and marketing, HR and talent and finance and operations. Does your technology span all areas and is it ‘talking’ to each other to cut out duplication?
Look at your key roles across each function and split them in to two columns – routine and non-routine roles. Then, break them the roles into routine and non-routine tasks. Find technology that can take care of routine tasks and move employees into more complex, value-added roles. Ensure they spend their time on revenue generating activities that make the biggest positive impact to your business.
‘Human’ parts of work are becoming more important. For example, skills such as empathy, communication, persuasion, personal service, problem solving and strategic decision making are more valuable than ever.
For many businesses, the number one challenge preventing growth is finding and retaining great talent. Too many businesses to try to attract and retain people using last century thinking. However, the ‘talent landscape’ has changed and today’s recruitment models need to reflect this.
People today are motivated by flexibility and being able to work around their life as opposed to the other way around. An estimated 30% of people currently work remotely from home or a local co-working space. This number is increasing as people look to avoid long commutes and work hours that suit lifestyles.
Businesses need to direct employees into revenue generating-activities such as sales, business development, new product development and client relationship management. But, bear in mind that millennials want to have more creativity and jobs that are less prescriptive. They don’t want to be told what to do or micro-managed. Instead, they want to have the freedom to express themselves and pursue their passion and purpose and help to make a difference for their community and society.
When I was growing up my Mum encouraged me to study hard and aim to get a job in a bank, which at the time, was considered a job for life – secure, stable, well paid with a gold watch awarded after 30 years.
Times have changed and those jobs no longer exist. These days, people in the UK change jobs on average 12 times during their lifetime. This number will increase as the number of full-time positions in large businesses decreases and the gig economy grows.
According to McKinsey Global Institute, 5 million people in the UK now work in the gig economy. Businesses are opting to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees and workers are paid for each “gig” or piece of work that they do.
This current talent landscape is reshaping our workforce and forcing many organisations to reconsider how they design jobs, organise work and plan for future growth. Cloud-based technology allows more people to work from home, travel less and be more productive. To compete, we must embrace these technological advances.
In our career, it’s important to continue to learn, evolve and gain multiple skills in order to stay abreast of market demands. The more skills you have to offer, the easier it will be for you to find work.
Businesses need to consider the following questions as part of their planning process:
- Where are you in your business journey?
- What technology do you currently have?
- What additional technology do you need to ensure you continue to prosper?
- How will job roles change, adapt or disappear with increased technology inside your business?
Here are some helpful tips to help you along the way.
- Make the most of the gig economy. It’s acceptable to have numerous jobs and multiple careers in today’s society
- Continue to learn, develop and add more skills to your toolbox in order to stay relevant and in demand
- In your business create two lists of routine and non-routine roles and tasks. As organisations take advantage of AI, robots and cognitive technologies, there is an opportunity to rethink work around essential human skills.
- Take advantage of technology to automate routine work and rethink the role of people as more creative and problem solving
- Set up a pilot programmes to test models and then apply them across all key functions across your business.
- To ensure continued success, use people, robots and AI working side by side.
- Don’t hire people based on what you’ve done in the past, instead provide more focus on what you’ll do in the future. When hiring, look for skills, attitude and willingness to grow and develop. Build a talent development plan. Work with people who run towards their dreams.
- Remember that people want to feel part of an organisation and have a tangible role to play in the success of the business. They want to be connected and feel as if they’re working for the greater good and making a difference. They want more creativity to allowing their talents to shine. It’s not just about turnover and profit, people also want to develop and grow.
If you are interested in starting or growing a business, join us at Start Up Richmond and get involved in a new initiative called The Richmond Enterprise Challenge:
‘Step Up. Start Up. Scale Up’.
It’s a FREE, council backed initiative to support start-ups and growing businesses in the borough. Find out more here
You can get access to on-demand training, live events, webinars, networking, mentors and a members’ directory where you can promote your business. Hundreds of businesses have already joined.