The Changing Face of Work

Posted in : HR Updates on 4 December 2019
Claire Loftus
Issues covered:

UK businesses are in the midst of an epidemic – and that is employee disengagement. Only 11% of UK employees are highly engaged[1], which means the other 89% aren’t delivering for your business or your customers.

It has also been reported that as many as 1 in 10 regularly feel miserable at work[2]  and that 70% of employees don’t trust their managers. To me this makes very sorry reading.

On average most adults will spend somewhere in the region of 90,000 hours at work, and to be regularly feeling miserable while there, is a depressing thought.

But how did we get here?

Over the last 2 decades there have been some major shifts which have happened in society.

The first is the changing demographics within the workplace. We now have around 4 different generations in employment, each with very different expectations and views on work.

Baby Boomers from the 1940s to mid 60s have been used to a job for life; loyalty has been key to them as has been job security, whereas the Millennials from late 70s to mid 90s and Gen2020 who were born after ‘95 have different thoughts on work.  They expect to move jobs more frequently and expect increased flexibility and work/life balance.

But the workplace has also changed with the rise in the number of women in work, changing family structures and the expectations of men, particularly at home and their role in the upbringing of children.

The second change is in relation to the growth and impact of technology. From the launch of Google in 1989 to the growth of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  It’s hard to imagine a time where we didn’t have a smart phone such as iPhone where the ability to find the answer to practically any question is quite literally at our fingertips.  But also, advancements in how we do business as well, with disrupters such as Uber who have changed how certain industries operate.

The third change is in relation to the breakdown of trust on a societal level. This has happened incrementally over time with major events such as 9/11, and the financial crisis, but also the rise in sexual abuse cover up scandals, the phone hacking scandals and more recently the fall out from Brexit and US Presidency elections, with revelations such as the involvement of Cambridge Analytical.

These shifts lead to major changes in both society but also within organisations too and have no doubt contributed to the distrust and disengagement being highlighted in the research.

Organisations need to accept the new normal and that to succeed in today’s society they need to be focusing on their people and building an environment where their staff are highly engaged and contributing to the overall success of the business.

This may seem like it could a be a costly activity for some organisations; involving bean-to-cup-coffee-machines, foosball tables and bean bags.  But in reality, it is a less financially expensive task involving creating an inspiring workplace where your staff are motivated to deliver and this can be done through regular meetings, improved communication and ensuring you give frequent feedback, praise and recognition – celebrating the small wins along the way.

[1] Gallup Figures

[2] CIPD research

This article is correct at 04/12/2019

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Claire Loftus

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