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State of (un)readiness: Your Employees Expect Things You’re Likely Unprepared to Deliver

By Universum on 28/02/2017

Universum releases new eBook focusing on how Gen X, Y and Z believe the workplace should function and the technologies poised to transform it

Stockholm, February 28th Are the expectations of how technology should shape the future of the workplace similar across generations? How can the workplace be designed to integrate differing expectations for optimal recruitment, retention, development and performance across levels and geographies? As the nature of work and the workplace evolves, both leaders and employees need to be engaged in bringing about a transformation that is productive, healthy and inclusive.

New research from UniversumINSEAD Emerging Markets InstituteThe HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership Center sets out to investigate these ideas from a bottom-up survey of students and professionals – not from the employer’s perspective. What do your employees think about the future of work? What innovations do they expect their employers to adopt? What will the rising student cohorts of Gen Y and Gen Z look for in a future employer? And how do these ideas differ based on country or gender?

“Technological innovations are reshaping just about everything in our world today and the workplace is no exception. Cloud-based collaboration tools, workplace messaging platforms, wearable technologies, virtual reality, and so on, have changed the meaning of going to work”. Said Henrik Bresman, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior; Academic Director, INSEAD Global Leadership Centre; Senior Advisor, The HEAD Foundation. He continued “more and more, employees expect work applications to function as effortlessly and effectively as the applications they use in their personal lives, and even while working professionals say their employer’s digital capabilities are important, our collaborative research shows that less than half believe their current employer’s capabilities rank highly”.

The results are a one-of-a-kind study of what global generations think about employers and the workplace – a research series from Universum called Generations. These insights are based on an annual survey of over 18,000 students and professionals worldwide – from Gen Xers who’ve been in the workplace for two decades, to Gen Z students. The research sheds light on preferred work-styles, Leadership qualities, hopes and fears about future careers, and the technologies with the highest potential for workplace innovation. What’s more, the research points to interesting insights and lessons not just meant for understanding individual generations, but for knowing how to manage a multigenerational workforce.

“Employees and their managers now expect more flexibility of time and venue. Constant connectivity leading to real time information and feedback is the norm, as is the management of virtual teams across increasingly globalized organizations.”  Said Vinika D. Rao, Executive Director of INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute. She continued “given the rapid pace of change in workplace technology – from cloud-based collaboration tools and workplace messaging platforms to newer technologies like wearables – it’s clear the nature of work in 10 years will be vastly different from what we experience today.”
Universum’s COO, Karl-Johan Hasselström, added “across all generations more and more employees expect work applications to function as effortlessly and effectively as the applications they use in their personal lives. To live up to this, companies are adopting new, specialized technologies at breakneck speed, leading to sizeable integration issues. The problem is particularly bad for workforce-facing applications such as project management, messaging tools, time management, calendaring, many of which don’t speak to one another and share information. For employers, it’s critical to address these issues early to avoid something that’s referred to as “path dependency” —when organizations must continue with a particular technology or practice, even when it’s not ideal, because earlier decisions limit present choices”.

Workplace Culture, Technology and Leadership

State of (un)readiness is the second eBook to be released as part of this this year’s Generations series. We are delighted that we can follow up Brave New Workplace and State of (un)readiness and continue our collaboration with INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, The HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership Center to release one more eBook. Focusing on the topic of leadership, Building leaders for the next decade will be released in March and include research that not only offers insights about the preferences and values of individual generations, but also points to how employers can support the workplace goals of gen X, Y and Z.

About Universum:
Universum is the global leader in employer branding, During our 25+ years we have established ourselves in 60 markets throughout the globe and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. Our services include actionable research, strategic advisory, data driven communication and social media solutions for talent branding, sourcing and analytics. A trusted partner to over 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. We work with over 2000 universities, alumni groups, and professional organizations to gather insights from students and professionals in order to advise employers on how to attract and retain talent that fits their culture and purpose.  On an annual basis Universum surveys over 1,500,000 students and professionals worldwide. Find out more at

About INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute:
The INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) is a leading think tank on issues related to economic development and business management in emerging economies across the globe. It creates knowledge through research and disseminates it for practical application by the corporations, governments and organizations that seek to leverage the opportunities offered by these growth markets. EMI develops cutting edge pedagogical material, research publications and data sets related to emerging markets. Based at INSEAD’s Asia campus in Singapore, and set up in partnership with the Economic Development Board of Singapore in September 2014, the Emerging Markets Institute reflects the changing focus of global growth.

About The HEAD Foundation:
The HEAD Foundation is an international charitable organization set up in 2013 in Singapore to contribute to the development of Asia. We focus on issues around human capital, education, leadership and sustainability. With an in-house research and project management team, we support research initiatives and social projects related to the above issues. We also run workshops and training programs with scholars, researchers and experts from around the world. To share our knowledge with the community, we publish books, produce research reports and host public events on a regular basis. In the long run, we target to influence policies and create positive social impact which will contribute to the sustainable development of Asia.

About MIT Leadership Center:
At MIT’s Leadership Center (MLC), we are dedicated to the study and practice of modern leadership where people who will change our world won’t be defined by titles. They’re the ones who discern big problems, spot opportunities, and rally others to collectively hack them in creative ways.  They lead through their actions every day. Since 2005, the MIT Leadership Center has served as a platform to reframe the conventional definition of leadership.  By offering access to cutting-edge research, education, and dynamic conversations, we strengthen the capacity of individuals, teams and organizations to develop innovative solutions to complex problems and develop the next generation of leaders worldwide.