Are you planning ahead for what’s coming your way? If you’re a human resource executive, or at least responsible for this role, you should be aware of these trends and have a plan to manage them:
- An aging workforce – Do you have a plan to keep your current employees well trained so they don’t become dinosaurs? Have you allowed your older employees to act as mentors and to be mentored by younger employees comfortable with technology skills? Have you considered possible phased retirement plans? Or “stepped down” roles within the organization (think Wal-Mart greeters)?
- An increasingly female workforce – More women than men are coming out of professional schools. Women will continue to demand flexible work schedules so they can perform their nurturing roles at home. Do you have a plan for flexible scheduling? Do you support day care and elder care needs? Have you allowed folks to “job share” or continue to collect benefits while working part-time?
- Heavier demand for retirement planning – Most Americans do a poor job of planning for their finances and health. Due to the recession, many employees can’t retire as planned. Many more employees won’t be able to retire because they failed to engage in retirement planning. As we grow older, health becomes a greater issue and impacts attendance as well as finances. To what degree have you brought in wellness programs, retirement advice, and so on? I predict that as we move forward, the most that many employers can afford to provide employees in these areas is an education.
- Continued outsourcing – As business structures continue to evolve, look for more and more outsourcing to PEOs and contingent workers. Remember this adage: If it walks and talks like an employee, it probably is one. You might be responsible for joint employment obligations and misclassifications. If you engage in these relationships, please read the HR That Works Special Reports on Contingent Workers and Independent Contractors.
- Technological innovation – We’re in a constant battle to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. Many employees are reluctant to learn new technologies; savvy companies will plan for this learning. Just as important, once employees are trained technologically, don’t lose them to a competitor looking for someone with this experience. I remember one head-hunter looking for people trained in SAP telling me that he calendared the date when a company got its SAP contracts and then two or three years later recruited SAP trained employees away from that company.
- Increasing minority presence in the workplace – Despite the fact we have an African American president and a shrinking percentage of white workers, the number of racial discrimination and harassment claims has grown significantly during the past six months. It’s not just African Americans filing these claims; more Hispanics and Asians will do so as well. White employees who feel that they’ve faced systematic discrimination will go to court, as did the New Haven firefighters who recently won their discrimination case before the US Supreme Court.
- Growing spirituality – More people are bringing their religion to work. Whether it’s owners or the rank and file, there’s far more discussion of spirituality in today’s workplace. The 60 million or so “cultural creatives” are seeking a deeper significance out of their daily grind. The employer who has a plan for tapping into this need will certainly attract these employees. As an employer, you’ll need to bring greater “meaning” to the workplace, while at the same time, avoiding claims of religious proselytizing or persecution.
These “mega-trends” affect the workforce no matter what business you’re in. The bottom line: Have a plan with goals and action items.