As an HR professional, based out of Adelaide, South Australia since the 90’s, I feel like I witnessed, or have been a part of three business waves.

The first wave saw bigger companies that were decentralised opt to centralise. They decentralised again after they did the sums and thought centralising was not good, before they decided to centralise again because technology got better.

The second wave felt like it was the era of shared services, outsourcing, globalisation, and technological advances that reshaped work practices and company structures, along with staff numbers and the need for different skill sets. To an extent we are still riding this wave.

The third wave, that is becoming increasingly pronounced, is the changing nature of work and flexibility that may be needed to achieve that work. The World Economic Forum, in their report “The Future of Jobs” cited the changing nature of work and flexibility as the top trend affecting Australian businesses with 60% of businesses already indicating that they felt the impact with employee skills.

While the first two waves seemed to be the domain of bigger business, the third wave is washing over big business and SME’s alike.

You often hear people say that in years to come there will be jobs that had never existed before. I am sure that is true.

The World Economic Forum report results indicated that the workforce disruption that is the result of what I call the third wave is going to make it harder to recruit, and change management and future workforce planning is going to be a key leadership ingredient in years to come.

While there are barriers to meeting the workforce demands of the future, there could be some great strategies that leaders could lean on. Many leaders in the report highlighted skills training, job rotation, and supporting mobility as key considerations.

While the future unfolds and leaders meet the challenge of the changing workforce head on, whether they like it or not, there is something to be said from advice I learnt from several well-regarded leaders. They said, “You should always be looking for your next hire.”

By always thinking about who may be the best person for your succession plans, talking to prospective candidates through networking, and catching up with those individuals that may have something to offer your organisation irrespective of whether you have a current opportunity or not is something well worth considering.