The evolution of work and the worker: Future global trends affecting your organization

The evolution of work and the worker: Future global trends affecting your organization

Workforce-EvolutionAuthored by

It’s not surprising that the workforce has changed drastically over the past 20 years, but how have these changes effected your organization? And what other trends do we have to look forward to that will affect it even more?

The SHRM Foundation has partnered up with the Economist Intelligence Unit to produce a report based on a series of global surveys, panel discussions, and analyses that explore the critical trends affecting organizations in order to develop some HR solutions to these challenges. Some of the key findings from the report are already apparent in today’s workforce, while others make you stop and think about how things have changed.

Demographic changesHR strategy

In recent years, the demographic shift has posed a conflicting challenge to organizations. Most organizations are finding that their older workforce is retiring, which is causing a strain on the remaining workforce because of the rising cost in expenditure on elderly care and pensions.

Also, many organizations feel that the younger generation is lacking both soft and hard skills. Therefore, they are trying to come up with a new way of educating young people in order to prepare them for new types of work.

Educational standards don’t meet organizational demands

Many colleges and universities will have to update their curriculum design to meet the changing economic demand. Technical and engineering jobs will be deemed the most valuable because these jobs cannot be replaced by technology. Soft skill acquisition will also become necessary to smooth integration into the workforce. There is no degree in soft skills, so many companies, worldwide, are bridging this gap by offering internal training to its undereducated youth.

Technology has transformed everything about the work environment

Gone are the days of working 9 to 5 at your typical office building in a 10 by 10 foot cubicle. With the rise of technology ever prominent in today’s workplace, the work environment has changed as well. More people are working from home and using telecommunications as a means of interacting with their coworkers. This technology has also allowed many companies and organizations to work with people from across the globe.

However, this creates a challenge for management because it can create discord among workers. Managers and supervisors will have to come up with strategies for keeping the mobile workers engaged and productive, the research found.

Technology is also the demise of the mid-skilled worker. During the recession of 2008, most mid-skilled workers were found unemployed because their jobs had been taken over by machines. According to the Associated Press:

“Half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the recession of 2008 in the US were in middle-class jobs whose pay ranges from $38,000 to $68,000. However, only 2 percent of the 3.5 million jobs gained since the recession is said to have ended (in June 2009) have been in these jobs.”

The mid-skilled workers who once held these positions are now being placed in lower-level skilled jobs. It will become HR’s responsibility to keep all employees up to speed on the ever changing technology, regardless of the employee’s skill level.

Wages are not keeping up with productivity

While it is clearly evident that workplace productivity is up—thanks in part to technology—wages are not! With the advancement of technology, organizations are looking to hire cheap labor and focus on shareholder value instead of increased labor costs and expenditure on education.

HR’s role in handling these changes

All these changes have posed a challenge for HR. In order for an organization to keep up, HR is going to have to be savvier and rely on their instinct when it comes to hiring and retaining employees. According to Mark J. Schmidt, Executive Director of the SHRM Foundation, “Talent shortages will continue to grow globally, requiring HR to become the provider of human-capital analytics for input to strategic business decision making.” By working with local governments, universities and other organizations, HR can help an organization by increasing the knowledge economy for its employees.

To view the complete survey, visit the EIU website.

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