The government ecosystem especially the complex landscape of its workforce, is rapidly evolving. The “what” government provides is affected by a number of forces, notably elections and citizen appetites for change, but increasingly the explosion of technology has created a seismic shift about “how” it executes its mission. The impact of emerging technology on the future of work must be an organizational imperative requiring organizational-wide horsepower. In short, to build a 21st century organization you need a 21st century approach. Read on to learn about how government can translate three powerful headwinds shaping the nature of work and the future workforce into a tailwind.
The headwinds are:
- Technology: Technological advances in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and data have generated entirely new ways of getting work done that are, in some case, disrupting the way we use and think about our tools and how people and machines can complement and substitute for one another.
- Demographics: Demographic changes are shifting the composition of the workforce. Millennials comprise ¼ of the workforce in the U.S. and by 2025 their numbers will reach 75% of the workforce. As they gain in numbers, it corresponds with their influence impacting public policy and as opposed to saying “why,” they counter with “why not?” The impacts from this generation is only beginning to be felt.
- Consumer Demand: Leaders of governments must recognize that ours is demand and experienced-based economy and that government is an experience provider via the services and program it delivers. Consumers (i.e. citizens) interact with the government not only at the functional and the cognitive levels but also at the emotional level. Moreover, with buying options expanding, consumers are becoming less satisfied with standardized, mass-market products and services, instead seeking creative, customized niche products, services, and experiences.
These three forces are leading to a profound shift in the nature of work. Employers and workers alike will find this shift challenging, but as time passes and routine tasks are increasingly automated, a growing number of people should be able to achieve more of their potential.
Steps you can pursue right now include:
- Complete an inventory of all services and programs and determine which should be continued. Consider in your analysis, reinventing and reimaging work around solving community problems, providing new services, and achieving new levels of productivity and impact.
- In your analysis, factor in my EAR principle – Easy, Accessible and Reliable – as in how well aligned are your services and programs with EAR? Too often services and programs become stale and ineffective. By the way, integrating a technology solution to a stale program often amounts to little or no change toward improvement.
- Stop over-relying on your Information Technology Department to be the sole source for tech advancements. Convene a cross-functional task force called, “What’s New, What’s Next” and challenge them to scan the world of government, assess the impacts of trends and help reposition the organization sooner than later to remain a credible community builder. Part of their charge is to help departments accelerate their use of technology by deepening their understanding about its potential.
- Realize adding a Full-time equivalent (FTE) person to the budget is not the “silver bullet” to optimize organizational performance. Consider partnering with another jurisdiction to share an employee.
- Encourage and support your employees in lifelong learning and career advisory services. Some of your employees have a career lattice, not a ladder.
The future of work is unfolding rapidly and the turbulent transformation underway is creating uncertainty. I recommend you and other key leaders join together to proactively navigate the future of work and make this transformation as productive and smooth as possible.
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