The world's indisputable authority on emotional intelligence, Professor Lynda Gratton of London Business School, talks about the main challenges facing HR professionals; how to prepare for the future, how to understand what the end is and how to manage competencies to deal with the future.

Lynda offers five insights into what she believes is the future of work and how we can prepare for it to live a happy, fulfilling life:

Man listening to music in a cafe with people talking in the back
Man listening to music in a cafe with people talking in the back

plan to work into your 80s and live to 100

Demography will change our lives in very profound ways. The question is, is this a gift or a curse?

Well, that depends on how we view our lives. Long lives mean considerable opportunities to do beautiful things. We need to make the most of our life and our choices. 

intangible assets are crucial

We need to think about work not just as a tangible asset but as a place where we build intangible assets. We all want to be happy, and real assets play a role here, but intangible assets are critical to happiness and fulfilment in life.

Things like productivity - having the skills and capabilities to be productive and successful. The second is vitality and energy – how you get up in the morning and maintain health and wellbeing.

But the main differentiator to happiness is friendships, particularly long-time friends. This is what money can't buy. You can't buy a 50-year-old company. We need to build experiences that will make a difference in our lives. 

prepare for transformation

The traditional three-stage life is changing - education, work, and retirement. We don't have to be the same person throughout life, mainly because our lives will be extended. We need to think about how we will change and how we give space to employees to change. Gap years will become the norm in the beginning and middle of your life.

And think about what Generation Z wants?

They may not know what they want to do or whom they want to work for, but they want to be an individual producer, to have a business with negotiated partnerships in work and life where both life partners will work.

Think about how you want to transform your life and who can help you achieve that?

Build wider networks with people who can help you become whom you want. It would help if you acted your way into transformation, not think it. Take on projects and activities and allow yourself to be pushed and pulled into something which you would like to be. 

think hard about skills

The impact of artificial intelligence and robotics. Routine versus non-routine and analytical versus manual jobs.

What will be the impact?

If it's a routine job, machines will be doing it. The position may not disappear but will be augmented through AI and machine learning. They will get better at their jobs. But analytical jobs that are non-routine will remain, yet they need a lot of preparation and education to maintain this job for life.

Plumbers and electricians, for example, are hard for machines to replicate. 

balance work and home

Technology will always connect you 24 hours a day. Nothing will stop this.

So the question is, how do you want to live your life, and how do you want your employees to live?

Do we want to breed a negative caustic cycle between work and home, where people feel guilty, overwhelmed, and unappreciated? Or can we redesign work into a positive process that allows people to come home feeling optimistic, networked, inspired, knowledgeable, resilient and supported.

It's time we re-engineered work and think about work as part of their whole life as the work-home cycle is an energy cycle.

Randstad is proud to be a major sponsor of the World Business Forum in Sydney from 27-28 May 2015. 

about the author

Lynda Gratton


Consistently topping influential business thinkers lists, Gratton is a Professor at the London Business School and an international authority on creating innovative organisations ready for the future.

Founder of the Hot Spots Movement, a consulting team specialising in helping companies boost innovation and value creation, Gratton was ranked number one in the Human Resources Magazine's "Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011" poll. In 2013 she was awarded the Life Time Achievement Award by HR Magazine, and equally, in 2013, she was amongst the 15 top thought leaders in the Thinkers50 ranking. She is the author of seven books on people development within organisations.

Her latest book, The Key, How corporations succeed by solving the World's Toughest Problems, was released in 2014.

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