You have undoubtedly heard the phrase, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. A 19th-century journalist by the name of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is often credited for coining the phrase as a way of explaining the dichotomy between an ever-changing world that still remains consistent in so many ways.
Karr’s central idea – whether he actually coined the phrase are not – is applicable to working in the 21st century. Many aspects of working a job in this day and age are quite different from what our parents and grandparents experienced. Yet other aspects of working have remained unchanged for generations.
Dallas-based BenefitMall illustrated this very idea in a recent blog post outlining three workplace trends sure to be observed in 2020. Among those trends are more opportunities for remote work and employers offering flexible work schedules.
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What Has Changed
So, what has changed so much since the turn of the century? First and foremost are the demographics that make up the American workforce. Simply put, the first wave of baby boomers has finally hit retirement age. They are transitioning out of the workforce while Generation Z is coming in behind them. This is not insignificant.
A McKinsey & Company report from 2019 shows that the members of Generation Z have a different way of thinking. They are more attuned to ideas surrounding social justice. They are more analytically minded, more pragmatic, and more likely to value dialogue over top-down decision-making.
The way they see life is very much responsible for shaping their view of the workplace. This explains why younger workers are interested in things like flexible work schedules and working remotely. They do not see the point in spending 8 to 10 hours every day in a confined workspace.
What Has Not Changed
It is clear that the modern workplace is changing according to the wants and needs of a younger generation of workers. Yet plenty of what makes up the workplace has not changed. For example, employers still have certain expectations of how work is to be performed. There is still an expectation that all employees will work together to ensure customers are satisfied.
The profit motive has not changed either. Though companies may alter how they do business in order to account for social justice and corporate responsibility, they still operate under the fundamental understanding that the primary purpose for doing business is to make money.
Differences Aren’t Irreconcilable
It is tempting to believe that the differences between older business owners and younger workers are irreconcilable. They are not. Companies can offer flexible work schedules and still maintain a profit, for example. Employees can pursue social justice within and without the workforce yet still not jeopardize the companies they work for.
In essence, what we have is a reinvention of American business. Things are evolving just as we would expect them to. They will continue to evolve as baby boomers retire and millennials go on to be the most dominant workforce in terms of sheer numbers.
Through it all, companies will have to adapt in terms of how they relate to workers. That means benefits packages are going to change too. So are work schedules, work locations, and even expectations as to how work is done. Yet none of this is bad. It is just different.
Those companies willing to evolve along with the pace of society will fare well in the coming years. Those that insist on clinging to the old ways of doing things will struggle. That is the way it has always been.