The Future of Work: Creating a Culture of Collaborative Innovation

Monday, October 19, 2015

We’re on the brink of significant generational transition in the workforce, as the Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) who make up a quarter of today’s workforce and hold a lot of the leadership roles are reaching retirement age and will be just 8% of the workforce in a decade’s time. 

At the other end of the spectrum, as the Baby Boomers are phasing out of the workplace, the most materially endowed, technologically literate, formally educated, globally connected generation to ever grace the planet enter the workforce – Generation Z. 

Generation Z, born 1995-2009, make up 18% of our population, 9% of the workforce but in a decade’s time will make up 31% of the workforce.

Whilst they will spend 14,000 hours in face to face classes in their schooling and for a degree, they’ll spend 6 times this in the workforce – an estimated 84,000 hours.  But what will the future of work look like?

Generation Z bring new approaches to work, problem solving, innovation and collaboration.  They have been born into an era of unprecedented change – this will be reflected in their approach to their careers. Today’s annual turnover rate is 15% per annum which equates to people staying in their roles for approximately 3 years 4 months. Projected over the lifetime of a school leaver today it is estimated they will have 17 jobs across 5 careers in their lifetime. 

social trends transforming the future of work

The Intergenerational Report by the Australian Government outlines three major social trends which will transform the future of work as we know it- population, participation and productivity.


Australia’s population is growing at 1.4% per annum, and we will reach 24 million people by the end of 2015.  We have doubled both our national and our global population since 1966.

However our population is not only growing but also ageing.  Our population pyramids visually communicate our growth – in 1985 it was a pyramid as there were more younger people than older people, however today it is becoming more rectangular and demonstrates how we are on the brink of massive ageing.   As we project to 2045 our population pyramid will start to become inverted as we will have more people aged over 60 than under 18 for the first time.

There are not only more older people but we are living longer than ever before, having added 10 years of life expectancy in the last four decades.

Our population is also changing, and we are more culturally diverse than ever before with 58% of Australia’s growth attributed to net overseas migration. We are increasingly generationally diverse with six generations represented in our communities today. 


In the years ahead we will see the female workplace participation rate continue to increase.  And we will be working later in life with the retirement age being pushed back. Even so, because of the impact of the aging population our workforce participation rate will actually decline, with today’s participation rate at 65.1% projected to decline to 62.4% in 2055.

The ratio of Australians in the workplace to retirees is also radically changing.  In 1975, there were 15 people of working age (aged 15-64) for every couple of retirement age (aged 65+).  Today there are just 9 people of working age for every couple of retirement age, and by 2055 it is projected to be just 5.4 people of traditional working age for every couple of retirement age. 


Due to the declining ratio of people of working age to those in retirement, there is going to be a greater need for productivity from the labour force.  The workforce of the future will need to do more with less.  This final defining social trend, productivity, is the only one not based on demographic realities.  

The Intergenerational Report outlines that for every hour an Australian works today, twice as many goods and services are produced as they were in the early 1970s. One of the contributors to this is technology which has enabled greater efficiencies. 

the future of work

It is not just technology which has increased productivity outcomes over the years.  Productivity is maximised by people and organisations who can innovate, and communities who can collaborate.  Effectiveness, innovation, productivity comes when it is in the hands of people who can see solutions, generate ideas, solve problems and facilitate innovations. 

Technology, innovation & collaboration 

Sectors have been transformed where there’s the intersection of technologies with innovation and collaboration. 

For example, AirBnB has challenged the traditional approach to accommodation solutions.   Their innovative approach to accommodation has been released to the collaborative power of the community to become accommodation providers, and has been leveraged through the technology platforms.   

Similarly, the network transportation company Uber has transformed the approach to transportation.  Launched internationally in 2012, Uber is in 58 countries, worth an estimated $50 billion yet doesn’t own one car.  An innovative approach, released to the collaborative community, leveraged through technology. 

Cancer Research UK provides another creative example of this.  They created a computer game Play to Cure: Genes in Space’. By playing it you analyse significant amounts of genetic data which would have taken scientists hours to do and can help beat cancer sooner. Leveraging technologies, fostering innovation and embracing collaboration.

effective leaders of the future

The effective leaders of the future will not be those necessarily with the most developed skill set but those who can effectively create a culture of collaborative innovation. 

Traditional leadership models have been based on position, hierarchy, command and control.  Whilst leadership remains essential, the styles of leadership the emerging generations respond best to are those that foster a context for them to connect, create and contribute. 

A workplace culture of collaborative innovation is inclusive of a multicultural, multigenerational, multigifted community – it draws on the strengths of the diversity through positioning people in contexts which foster growth, innovation and collaboration.

creating a culture of collaborative innovation

A culture of collaborative innovation requires focusing on the people not just the process. On shaping a team not just spending on technologies. It requires building on a foundation of shared values such as humility, respect and honesty.  It’s where leaders create autonomy supported inclusive multigenerational workplaces. 

Productivity and outcomes are important.  Essential in fact.  But perhaps as we shift our focus from process to people, from transactional to transformation leadership, and create vibrant, healthy, dynamic workplace communities – the productivity, innovation and output is likely to be greater than ever and flow simply as by-product - of people investing the 84,000 hours of their working lives in a rewarding way and in a thriving culture of collaborative innovation.

Find out more

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


Research Director curiosity budget focus groups logan sports hornsby chairty millennials professional presenters volunteers Births rise of local Australian Dream analysis baby name divorce rate water population milestone speakers mover and shaker SRE relevant spend emerging trends going out group session the average aussie states earning Australia Day English holiday online teleworking TAS rental stress income mccrindle research shopper's pick news house brand experience typical australian state business performance ease of travel moreton bay social researcher SMSF newspaper population growth future proofing sydney speaker social commentary crows nest child care happiness leader January 26th emerging generations society acf15 politics weekly earnings award winner learning styles crime equip Andrew Duffin screenage intern hills education the hills living ABS System's Architect meetings non profit land of the middle class litter speaker high density apartments researcher global CPI sydneycity year 12 NSW future resilience presentations workforce home ownership australian communities trends report focus group dreaming life professional development wolloomooloo waverton jobs of the future Population Clock 2017 data analyst volunteering data train TED talk cost census results huffington post demographic conference speaker REIV Conference average sydneysider gig economy WA names investment purpose bus NBRS offenders youth Gen Y tuesday Tuesday Trend Channel Seven sector wide sector baby names australia report SA baby names report relational socialising easter professional dream grave decision customer wage authenticity winter blues sun twentyseventeen Research Executive ageing population Adelaide slideshare friendship goals NBRS Architecture casual Financial Planning Association skills Sydney keynote speaker #censusfail media activity demographic trends research summer potts point domestic outsourcing visual university degree TED Caregiver tv Macquarie University national crime rates lifestyle PSI gig census data Channel 7 Engineering Manager marketing leadership workshop average Australian IT Specialists children unaffordable NEETs baby futurist baby names story perth Australian Home women the great screenage paying to work google Northern beaches Event FPA ipswich HSC careers anzac christian Wagga Wagga growth cash wellbeing Deaths Tasmania church volunteer school students Christchurch forecasting google for education average aussie apartment environment shbc 1980 2020 24 million Hills Shire Council lalor park renting blaxland victoria research data daily commute visualisation Northern Territory media ageing know the times Australian Population annual income tea Financial Planning Week NFP event local communities Australian communities travel housing mccrindle in the media employment parents educhat The ABC of XYZ year 7 tips supply and demand 40 million conference presentation bondi collaborative facts population map food learning professional speaker demographer social researchers business index healthy future millenials teaching manly entrepreneurs of today Australia Day 2017 thrive capital cities stats resource VET sector environmental scanning generation Z future proof New South Wales study New Zealand winter sunny days toys Western Australia 2013 in the media DESTEL friends innovation schools students optus hello fresh young australians mobile urban taskforce future of education salary generation alpha young people Tuesday Trends families Christmas lunch travelling ferry communications home brisbane JOMO Scouts princess charlotte not for profit stay home interactive 23 million in depth interviews etiquette capital city 1975 impact pyrmont educated Christmas presents poor christmas VIC quote students menai social commentator wealth and income Gen X CBD suburbs office opening ACF Queensland unemployment organisations Royals internet couple hobart internships digital community engagement post rationalism national wealth ACT gen alpha rule keeper global generations apartments Crime Rates tableau communication fears presentation energy Australian community trends speakers pack financial dreams earnings shifts communicate cancelling plans social shifts generational trends townhouses owning a home gender social research brand consumerism world baby boom responsive teachers urban living index list infographic transport meals networking Financial Planning Association of Australia social lives narcissism engagement showreel education future report engage christianity career daily telegraph rising house prices fresh 2016 census father's day balance statistics census 2016 goal choice workers marriages wealth language faux-cilise proactive celebration staff millionth community event national private wealth builders overcast new office Aussies Skilling trends analyst moderators guide future of shopping socialites Valentine’s Day australians staying home more mccrindle tea economy criminal weather leadership communities not-for-profit selfie tattoos mortgage research report vegemite Australian demographics commute gold coast trend tuesday McCrindle Speakers Melbourne social analysis Northern Beaches pharmacies affordability sydneysiders forum baby name predictions participants mentor entrepreneur sydney metro wedding 2012 change Sydney financial independence public speaker Australian Communities Trends wealth and income distribution aussie culture forecast award office space local community faux-cilising South Australia religion The Daily Edition insights sunburnt country event belief royal influence hopes micro apartments qualitative research mining boom Australians trends SMART investor bureau area Kiwi Charlotte charities survey design culturally diverse optus my business awards Australian Bureau of Statistics Assistant Store Manager cartodb organisational culture sydneysider middle class grandparents australian community trends report census fail program Work place Bathburst DIY easy rider deloitte Mark McCrindle neutral bay greatness house price rise urban living the australian dream demography social trends Australian schools changing face of sydney learner volunteering work-life royal baby royal family demographic transformations economic data personalities Education Future Forum earn family house price training sentiments housing affordability megatrends poker master business 2015 EFF debate urban workplace culture social house prices product alpha work mates baby name trends darwin motivate thought leadership renter of the future ultimo Love community infographics ashley fell brands mythbusting follow Myth recap NT VET professional services hills shire parenting REIV National Conference mateship GPO mother's day Australia street ACF2017 sydney event wages real high density culture New Zeland low density future-proof Sydney Hills Business Chamber residents ashley mckenzie Wellington 2014 insight Australian Census monarchy village cancelling event suburb cooking tertiary education Territory conference Aussie cold shopping centre technology media commentary Word Up medicine student staying in baby boomers trends of 2017 geomapping jobs video TDE work prince george new york times financial future household affordable employers social impact research visualisation retirement personal growth graphs nfp Generation Y experience high density living keynote debt eliane divorce Kirsten Brewer public speaking storytelling long weekend australia learn future of work data visualisation population coffee schools commuters Real Estate Institute of Victoria market research growing population high school wealth distribution cost of living James Ward consumer financial fears marriage media release public holiday pharmacy February 16 workplace australian australian social research trades royal sydney hills TEDx increasing densification survey sustainable rain housing growth Generation X social change FOMO investing home owner ACF 2016 dreams city money gen z university 24,000,000 kate middleton spirituality World Water Day australian communities forum conferences challenge dare to dream social media panel seasons omnibus housing trends suburban living education research 2016 census results micro charity priorities world youth day Geoff Brailey norwest trends of 2016 live the dream Netflix cars cica cloudy days teach identity office plans property mythbusters education sector safe vegetarian online shopping financial planning school satisfaction Social Trend teacher care support Queensland: QLD Christmas season rent define buildings demographics dessert optimistic shopping social enquiry Merry Christmas property price ethnography collaboration eliane miles financial faith results rich Northern Beaches Christian School research services generation Canberra workshop society trends publication Real Estate infographic wall finance cultural diversity marrickville social life breakfast mccrindle 10 years trend ACF17 small business Res Vis social issues Vocational education generations innovative local cultural diveristy aged care puzzle 2016 case study repayments woolworths entertainment youth unemployment global financial crisis households sector wide study school snapshot clothing Wodonga the hills shire census Duchess of Cambridge Australian Families aged care click holidays men keynote speaker contiki housing market entrepreneurial report 1968 internship faux-ciliser cancel plans Australian Trends Do It Yourself emerging technologies "know the times" property market ideas education future Hornsby Shire Council the changing face of research pack events 1994 group government car