The future of work: Technology, Innovation & Collaboration

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Generational transition in the workplace

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. 

Future Workforce Generations

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.

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


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