Third Annual “Future Workforce Report” Sheds Light on How Younger Generations are Reshaping the Future of Work

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Upwork (UPWK), the largest freelancing website, today released the results of its third annual Future Workforce Report, which explores hiring behaviors of over 1,000 hiring managers based in the U.S. This year, for the first time, results were examined by generational impacts on the workforce, delving specifically into how younger generations are shaping the future of work. The study found that 48 percent of younger generation managers (composed of millennials primarily, with early Gen Z managers included as well) are director-level or higher already, showing they have major influence on workforce planning. This influence will only grow with these younger generations making up 58 percent of the workforce by 20281, an increase of 38 percent from today.

In todays always-on workplace, 84 percent of Millennials have reported experiencing burnout at their job. Traditional methods of hiring are no longer providing sufficient relief. In fact, more than two times (42 percent) as many younger gen hiring managers felt hiring had become more difficult than the 18 percent who felt it had gotten easier in the past year. Now in a position of authority and facing this pain, younger generations see the need to rethink how work is done and are taking action.

As younger generations ascend in the workforce and become the majority of managers in corporate America theyll reshape work as we know it, said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. We know already that the most in-demand professionals place high value on flexibility. For example, the youngest generations are most likely to freelance. And professionals craving flexibility will increasingly have managers who not only understand this priority but will themselves expect it. We see this clear trend towards more flexible, remote work on the hiring side already based on this years Future Workforce Report.

How Younger Gen Managers Are Shaping the Future of Work

They support remote teams as the new norm

  • 69 percent of younger gen managers have team members who are allowed to work remotely.
  • Among those that approve remote work options, 74 percent reported having team members who spend a significant portion of their time conducting their jobs remotely, whereas only 58 percent of Baby Boomers have workers who work a significant portion of their time remotely.
  • Younger gen managers are 28 percent more likely to utilize remote workers than Baby Boomers, and believe that two out of five full-time employees will work remotely within the next three years.
  • By 2028, the study projects that 73 percent of all teams will have remote workers.

They see the need for better access to rapidly-changing skills and constant reskilling

  • Younger generation managers are more likely to believe in a more independent workforce approach — theyre nearly three times more likely to say that individuals should be responsible for their own reskilling as compared to Baby Boomers.
  • This contrasts with Baby Boomers, of whom nine in 10 believe the onus for reskilling is on the employer.
  • Younger gen managers are also 50 percent more likely to leverage freelancers to fill skills gaps within their organization compared to Baby Boomers.

Theyre prioritizing workforce planning and embracing an agile future

  • Fifty-seven percent of younger gen managers ranked future workforce planning as a top or high priority for their department. They were nearly three times more likely than Baby Boomers to rank it a top priority.
  • They are nearly two times more likely than Baby Boomers to have made significant progress in developing a flexible talent strategy as well as in investing in technology to support a remote workforce.
  • In fact the study predicts, by 2028, non-traditional, flexible talent (ie. freelancers, temporary and agency workers) will comprise 24 percent more of departmental headcount as compared to today. The results were approximated for future projections based on the current results of the youngest cohort, Gen Z.

Theyre utilizing freelancers at a higher rate

  • Younger gen managers are more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers to have increased their usage of freelancers in the past few years, and they are projected to continue increasing their usage in 2019.
  • The primary reasons theyre using more freelancers are to increase productivity, access specialized skills, and drive cost efficiencies.
  • They are more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers to engage freelancers for ongoing, strategic partnerships across multiple projects vs. one-time, one-off projects.

There are a many misconceptions about younger generations in the workforce today, said Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft. We frequently hear things like lazy, entitled job hoppers. But nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, Millennials are equally, if not more, committed to their work. But we expect more from our company. We expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions. With the various opportunities our generation has at their fingertips “ freelancing, remote work, entrepreneurship “ companies can no longer assume our generation will settle for the status quo. The good news for companies is that if they embrace this agility and flexibility they can drive innovation and change with their organization.

About Upworks Future Workforce Report

To see further insights, please visit the results deck here. The report was conducted by independent research firm Inavero. This is the third year the survey has been conducted. More than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers were surveyed through a third-party, independent online sample between October 19, 2018 and October 30, 2018. Projection results are weighted to ensure generational demographic representation in line with the United States Bureau of Labor Force Statistics’ 2018 Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey and the Labor Force Projections. The study has an overall margin of error of ±3.08% at a 95% level of confidence.

About Upwork

Upwork (UPWK) is the largest freelancing website, as measured by Gross Services Volume. It enables businesses to find and work with highly skilled freelancers. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work — like software, shopping and content before it — is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Our companys mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives.

Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit our website at www.upwork.com, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Inavero

Inavero is a global leader in human capital management research. The firm powers satisfaction and thought leadership studies for hundreds of top firms within the space and leverages more than 300,000 survey responses annually to provide insight into the millions who work in the gig economy and the companies who hire them. For more information, visit https://www.inavero.com/.

1 Based on this current workforce composition and generational projection data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Katie Evans
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