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


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