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


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