The way businesses operate is rapidly changing. A strong online presence and tailored services are crucially important to their global development. Together with the emergence of the on-demand economy the traditional employment relationship is therefore being replaced by a diversity of more detached, agile and adaptable forms of employment. Workplace flexibility–with respect to contracts, time and location–is the name of the game in this new world of autonomous, result-driven and project-oriented work.
New capabilities, driven by technological innovation, will create an important number of new job opportunities and new markets, while existing jobs or tasks disappear or are re-designed. Changes in skills needs, organisation of work and employment relations will accommodate better work-life balance and provide easier access to income opportunities. Yet they also risk creating skills polarization and pose serious challenges to the adequacy of current legal, institutional and social protection frameworks.
More challenges remain in the form of persistent unemployment, growing inequality and a high incidence of undeclared labor. All these challenges are addressed under the UN Sustainable Development Goals which, for the world of work, envision a world in which every country enjoys inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their bit: governments, civil society and the private sector.
Decent work refers to people’s aspirations in their working lives: opportunities for productive work that delivers fair income, security in the workplace and social protection. But it also means social integration, freedom of expression and participation in the decisions that touch their lives. Furthermore decent work contributes to empowerment, and provides people with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills, enhance their employ-ability and spread equal opportunity for all.
Equal opportunity is not a given. Background, gender, income and education all feed into the growing divide and inequality. Faced by a diminishing labor force as the “baby-boom” generation will all retire over the next 15 years, it is more important than ever to achieve an inclusive labor market where everybody who wants to work can work. Solving inequality through decent work will provide those currently considered to be part of the untapped potential labor force with an opportunity to contribute to economic growth, while creating that inclusive and sustainable labor market.
A related issue in this context is the positive contribution made by migrants. Forced displacement and irregular migration can present complex challenges, but the benefits of well-managed and skills-based global migration to inclusive and sustainable growth cannot be underestimated. This point is underlined in Randstad’s latest academic report by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, entitled “People to Jobs, Jobs to People”, which will be presented at the OECD Forum 2017.
At the same time, the impact of the informal economy remains a clear obstruction to inclusive and sustainable growth. In 2017, the number of people in vulnerable employment is expected to reach 1.4 billion globally. Undeclared employment lowers the quality of work and working conditions, undermines the business environment through unfair competition and puts the financial sustainability of social protection systems at risk. The challenge is to transform undeclared work into formal work. Successful economies reduce the supply and demand of undeclared work by providing workers and employers with flexible alternatives providing decent and quality work.
Randstad, as an industry leader in human resource services seeking to shape the world of work, upholds integrity and human rights. Randstad’s Business Principles are set around and are supportive of our core values: to know, to serve and to trust, simultaneously to serve all interests.
From this perspective, Randstad has set out a wide array of initiatives around the globe to fight youth unemployment, empower women on the labor market and provide work opportunities to people with disabilities, migrants and refugees. We see the bigger picture and take our social responsibility seriously. Our business must always benefit society as a whole.
Randstad believes everybody should have access to decent work to provide people with security in employment and income. At the same time workers and companies alike need flexibility as to when, where and how to work. This means the inclusive and competitive labor market that we want for our future should be agile and adaptable. By combining a variety of decent employment contracts with modern social security and accessible employability schemes we can reach that goal and provide sustainable prosperity for as many people as possible.
This article also appears on the OECD Yearbook Forum.