3 Workforce Trends Employers Need To Plan For

22nd Jun, 2020 | Trends, Data & Insights

Australia’s workforce is changing more drastically than ever, making it increasingly difficult for employers to understand, retain and get the best out of their staff. With external influences shifting so rapidly, it’s essential for employers to get ahead of the trends early enough to counter the threats and capitalise on the opportunities they pose.

The 3 major trends shaping the Australian workforce are:

1) Extreme transitions in labour demographics

2) Developments in technology

3) The uptake of flexible work.

Behind these trends lie opportunities for employers to maximise productivity, however failure to recognise and adapt to them will see employers struggling with high churn, skills shortages and bottom-line losses.

Workforce Trend 1: Demographic Changes

One-third of today’s workforce is about to stop working. Making up 25% of our population and 33% of our total labour force, Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964) are starting to reach retirement age. This sizeable group have a large impact on our economy and hold the vast majority of senior positions in Australian companies. When they exit the labour force, Australia’s workforce is at risk of losing large amounts of experience and intellectual property.

At the other end of the spectrum, a generation just as large are poised to flood the workforce. Gen Z (born 1995 -2010) currently only make up 7% of Australian employees, but 2 million will be hitting the workforce in the next 5 years. Eventually, around 4.8 million Gen Zers will be in the job market.

While it might feel like an obvious statement, and merely the result of the passage of time, it stands to leave our workforce entirely bottom-heavy. ¼ of our workers will be left fighting for entry-level work while our top positions will likely be left without enough candidates with the experience and expertise to take them over.

Workforce Trend 2: Technological Changes

Today, technological innovation is so prevalent that 50% of traditional job roles are likely to be automated in the next decade, creating space for new, as yet unnamed, roles. In Australia alone, over 3 million workers could see their job roles change dramatically due to technology in the next decade leaving 10% of the workforce requiring upskilling into new roles.

Technological advances are also changing the ways people look for work, become employed and are managed. Online marketplaces are emerging, allowing workers, and employers to take more control over when, where and how working arrangements are made.


Workforce Trend 3: The Uptake In Flexible Work

Australian workers are moving away from full-time work in large numbers. The number of short-term roles has grown 68% more than full-time ones and the average Australian is working, 110 hours less than they were 10 years ago. As people seek balance, variety and control over when and where they work, the working landscape shifts towards more flexible arrangements.  

This style of working is on the rise and estimates suggest that 40% of the Australian workforce will be flexible or on-demand in the not too distant future. Soon, the majority of talent pools will be made up of a mix of permanent and temporary or casual staff.

What Does These Trends Mean For Employers?


Each of these trends presents opportunities for employers to increase productivity and, therefore, their bottom line. However, they must first recognise and adapt to each trend. If they can’t, they will likely fall victim to skills shortages, and productivity losses.

The only way to come out on top of the workforce shifts is for employers to invest time in better understanding how they will impact their business and planning to create the flexibilities within their workforce before the trends fully take hold.