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Created on 29.11.2022

How career paths are changing in “new work”

New work is a mega trend that is changing the working world. Transformation specialists Jonathan Abplanalp and Seán Reid show us just what new work is all about, why new work is about more than just working from home and flexible working hours, and the extent to which new work paves the way to completely new career paths.

What exactly does new work refer to?

New work is a mega trend that is changing the working world, and which we as a company view on three different levels: at the level of the individual, at the level of society and at the level of the organization. Here, flexible approaches that take the personal development opportunities of employees into account even more – including when it comes to shaping a person’s career – are playing an increasingly important role.


Individuals, society and organizations: this is all changing

What is changing at an individual level

The attitude of employees to work is changing: autonomy, a sense of purpose and personal responsibility are becoming more and more important. As these values change, the notion of career is also changing.

What is changing in society

Whether demographic changes, digitization or sustainability, all these developments have an impact on society, and shape discussions around the value of work. Work is increasingly being viewed as the sum of all our activities, which also includes  unpaid care , for instance. In the context of this separation between work and income, the theme of basic income is also being discussed in public.

What is changing in organizations

Seeing as they are part of the society that individuals work in, organizations must respond to social and staffing changes. What business models, organizational structures, products/services and sustainability strategies can they use to remain successful economically? What working models and employment conditions will enable them to attract specialists and retain employees? What sort of portfolio will allow companies to contribute towards solving social problems, and to offer their employees meaningful tasks? To remain relevant to society, to customers and as an employer in the future as well, companies need to find answers to these questions.

What challenges does new work pose to HR and recruitment?

HR comprises all tasks that relate in some way to the employee journey , and so all points of contact our staff have with our company – from being recruited by the company to leaving the company. New work has an impact on all these tasks. We currently have a labour market that is very employee-friendly. If we want to remain appealing as an employer, we need to offer potential and existing staff work that meets their expectations. We need to establish an organizational structure that gives employees autonomy, a sense of purpose and personal responsibility in their work, while also guaranteeing the organization’s value creation. If we want to establish new work, we need to think about how we can develop our people and the organization – this could be with new ways of working, in self-organized teams, with lateral leadership that helps us abolish hierarchies, or with work that covers various disciplines and departments.

What does new work mean for career paths, and what new working models does it give rise to?

That need for a sense of purpose and the desire to develop is something that is highly valued in the workplace. If we apply this trend to careers, what this means for us as an organization is that we need to be able to pave the way to different career paths, specifically paths that take into account personal circumstances, gender and ambitions. There is a lot that needs rethinking here: for instance, how can we promote internal mobility and careers between different companies? Another aspect that needs careful consideration is loyalty. Today, there are career paths that are not based on the idea of someone staying with a company for a long time. Portfolio workers, for example, only support companies for a certain time with a certain project. Co-working, freelancing and project work allow companies to bring expertise into the company, and to draw on skills at short notice for a limited period of time. We have to develop working conditions for these sorts of partnerships.

How does new work have an impact on specialist and management careers?

Many organizations still have a hierarchical structure. In these companies, the only way up tends to be through a career in management. On this traditional career path, a person’s next goal will be the next level up in the hierarchy. The more employees someone manages, the greater their reputation, and the more “successful” their career is perceived to be. But if attitudes to work are changing, then it’s high time to consider a new notion of what career actually means. A notion that doesn’t solely focus on climbing up the career ladder, but one where the value of specialist careers is recognized more as well. The main objective, however, is for us as an organization to think about how we respond to the ever-greater need expressed by our employees for autonomy, personal responsibility and a sense of purpose, and how we can guarantee their continued development across different paths. New work provides space for many different career paths, for career changers or even managers who have managed a lot of people, and who, after a certain period of time, would like to take on a consulting or coaching role. In new work, there are completely new standards for the quality of a career.

How far has PostFinance come with new work?

We have invested a lot of time into culture and our understanding of management, and we have already achieved a lot. We have already spent several years working with models that comprise various aspects of new work. Iterative, agile working, or the way we make decisions in the company, are just two key themes. This mindset is already ingrained in our managers. We have also thought long and hard about the sorts of cultures we would like to see in our company. I’m deliberately speaking in the plural here seeing as our organization is made up of heterogeneous departments and teams that have to develop a suitable culture of their own. Our back office, for example, works on similar tasks every day in a process-oriented manner. This requires a different culture to an innovation team, which has to identify new trends. We value every culture because we need all of these cultures to make progress. Generally speaking, we don’t want to, and indeed can’t, apply new work approaches across the company in equal measure. Instead, we do so in a targeted manner, and where it makes sense.

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Jonathan Abplanalp and Seán Reid work as transformation specialists in PostFinance’s Organizational Development unit. They specialize in the three areas of cultural development, self-organization and new work. One of their core tasks when it comes to new work is to foster an understanding of what it’s all about, and to come up with areas of action for PostFinance.

Jonathan Abplanalp has been working for PostFinance since January 2016. His main message about new work is this: “New work looks at how work can become something that empowers people, makes organizations more resilient and solves social issues.”

Seán Reid has been working for PostFinance since September 2020. Here is his main message on new work: “In an ideal world, employees would be able to fully develop their abilities  to allow the company to flourish, and for the good of society.”

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