New world of work
3 ways for business support staff to remain in-demand now, and tomorrow
In my role, one of the questions I get asked often from business support professionals is, “What do I need to upskill in to remain competitive?” There is no right answer, just as there is no universal skill that remains in demand forever and no organisation that shares the same values and goals as the next one.
To address the question, Hudson Business Support recently hosted an event called “The New World of Work: How to remain competitive and thrive as an EA.” At the event, Hudson NSW’s Lead Career Coach, Sheila Wherry talked about Lynda Gratton’s 5 forces of change that’s set to impact the workplace: technological developments, globalisation, longevity & demography, societal trends and renewable energy resources.
Of these factors, the one that presents the biggest challenge to the business support function is technological development.
We found this to be true when we conducted research of our own with hiring managers and employees in business support across Australia and New Zealand.
Along with workload and change, our survey respondents said that technology was the biggest challenge they were up against in their field.
Often, when we talk about the future world of work, professionals are quick to jump to the bleak conclusion that machines will replace them and that there is not much you can do about the future. There is a “defeatist” mentality that accompanies this train of thought, which is dangerous because you are essentially putting the onus of your career development in someone else’s hands.
I believe that through well thought-out strategies and proactive career development, business support staff can be confident that they will be employable in the future, no matter the changes and challenges. It doesn’t need to be drastic as going back to university to pick up a degree. You just need to do the following:
- Keep up to date with the latest development in your sector & technology
You only need to turn on the TV to see that self-driving cars and androids are set to replace certain tasks and jobs. While we are quick to think of the machines replacing existing jobs, we rarely give any thought to the creation of new jobs that will facilitate the machines and technological advances.
To know where the new opportunities may be, you’ve got to be in the know. Go to networking events, spend 10 minutes a day reading about new technology and discuss these opportunities and threats with your colleagues and friends. After all, you can only be prepared when you know what you’re up against.
- Keep up-to-date with the in-demand skills and roles in your sector
As organisations brace themselves for the future, they are also spending time thinking about the kind of talent they will need in the future.
We are finding that on top of technical capabilities like MS Office and reporting skills, employers are looking for staff with exceptional soft skills to help them navigate the changes. Soft skills, is where I believe business support employees really have an opportunity to stand out. You can’t win a typing match against a computer but you can leverage soft skills to negotiate and influence.
Interestingly, our survey found that hiring managers were on the lookout for employees with great communication skills and an exceptional mindset.
Four of the top five skills were to do with the ability to assess, evaluate and change the mindset despite the changing work environment.
If you don’t feel confident that you have these soft skills yet, start looking for ways to pick them up or cultivate them through your next projects or appointment.
Top soft skills that hiring managers in business support are looking for:
Communication 15.98% Continuous improvement mindset 13.80% Adaptability 12.35% Questioning and thinking critically 11.14% Self-motivation and succeed 9.69%
- Choose growth mindset in every situation
Growth mindset is a belief system that talent can be cultivated through effort, strategies and input. As opposed to a fixed mindset which denotes that an individual’s talent and capabilities are fixed, a person with a growth mindset enjoys challenges because they know that they will learn and grow from every trial and situation.
To apply this in everyday context means that each task, project and role offers you the propensity to learn and develop your skills and career.
No-one can predict precisely when a role will be phased out or where the next disruption will come from. But when you are focused on learning and growing you will find that you will also be quick to spot opportunities no matter where the future world of work takes you.