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


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