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60 HR Predictions for 2008

January 1, 1998
Related Topics: Future Workplace, The HR Profession, Featured Article
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W

orkplace Flexibility

  1. Collaborative cultures will be the workplace model.
  2. Creative employment contracts will support more time off, flexibility in hours and work location, technological job aids and more pay at risk with significant upside potential.
  3. Company intranets will become a major tool for communication, training and benefits administration; HR will play a leading role in developing this important tool.
  4. Intelligence through knowledge transfer capability will separate the best employees from the rest.
  5. Employees will have more and more choices about work arrangements, allowing them to meet their individual needs.
  6. Work hours scheduling will become less important as organizations focus on performance and results.
  7. Company facilities will become "virtual" through work-at-home, telecommuting and outsourcing.
  8. The workweek will be less structured—employees will still work 40-plus hours, but at varied times and places other than the office.
  9. Legislation will lead to greater portability of health, welfare and retirement benefits.
  10. Free-lance teams of generic problem solvers will market themselves as alternatives to permanent workers or individual temps.

Global Business

  1. The role of corporate HR will change to that of creator of overall values and direction, and will be implemented by local HR departments in different countries.
  2. Technology, especially the Internet, will enable more businesses to enter the global marketplace.
  3. HR professionals will have advanced acumen in international business practices, international labor laws, multicultural sensitivities and multiple languages.
  4. HR professionals will need to be knowledgeable of other cultures, languages and business practices to help their companies find and enter more markets.
  5. HR people will have to understand other cultures and help people work with, and transfer among, various cultures.
  6. Megaglobal business alliances will grow in number and scope, requiring great finesse on the part of the HR professional.
  7. There will be an explosive growth of companies doing business across borders, and it will be the most significant change for the economy in modern times.
  8. Cultural understanding and sensitivity will become much more important for the HR professional of the future, whereas multiple language ability isn’t going to become a necessary competency.
  9. The continued emergence of a world marketplace will require development of an international workforce.
  10. Small teams of HR professionals will focus on providing performance improvement consulting services to a variety of locations around the world.

Work and Society

  1. Family and life interests will play a more prevalent role in people’s lives and a greater factor in people’s choices about work—there will be more of a "work to live" than a "live to work" mentality.
  2. Employees will demand increases in workplace flexibility to pursue life interests.
  3. Dual-career couples will refuse to make the sacrifices required today in their family lives and more people (not just women) will opt out of traditional careers.
  4. Families will return to the center of society; work will serve as a source of cultural connections and peripheral friendships.
  5. Workers will continue to struggle with their need for work/ life balance, and it will get worse.
  6. Integration of work with quality-of-life initiatives will create solutions to problems formerly seen as the responsibility of government.
  7. Community involvement and social responsibility will become part of an organization’s business vision.
  8. "Cocooning" will become more popular as workers look to their homes for refuge from the pressures of a more competitive workplace and depersonalized society.
  9. Just as defined-contribution plans have begun to take over from Social Security, companies will take on responsibility for elder care, long-term care and other social needs through cafeteria-style benefits programs.
  10. Those people who refuse or are unable to adapt to new technologies will find they’re working harder and accomplishing less.

Workforce Development

  1. Lifelong learning will be a requirement.
  2. The focus of training/learning activities will be on performance improvement and not just on skill building.
  3. Employees with varied skills and competencies will be valued more highly than those with a depth of expertise in a single area.
  4. Problem solving and decision making will become a required curriculum with practical work problems as the training medium.
  5. Training will be delivered "just in time," wherever people need it, using a variety of technologies.
  6. Companies will demand constant personal growth, and employees will respond positively to higher expectations.
  7. It will not be possible to survive in the workplace without basic computer skills.
  8. People who can learn new skills/competencies quickly will be highly valued in a faster changing world.
  9. Team projects and special assignments will be a major factor in personal development.
  10. As the computer-savvy generation is more assimilated into the workforce, employees will become much more productive in complex tasks and less dependent on other people and departments.

Definition of Jobs

  1. Organizations won’t pay for the value of the job but for the value of the person.
  2. Versatility will be the key factor in determining employee value with strategic thinking, leadership, problem solving, technology and people skills close behind.
  3. Compensation systems will be linked to business outcomes.
  4. All jobs will require higher levels of computer skills.
  5. Positions will be organized in teams focused on a task, not organized around a hierarchy.
  6. Positions will be defined by the competencies needed to be performed.
  7. Employees will be more independent, moving from project to project within their organizations.
  8. Many jobs will be redesigned to be much broader in scope, especially in management positions, resulting in leaner head counts.
  9. Employees will be increasingly measured by how much value they contribute to the business, not by whether they fulfilled predetermined objectives.
  10. Work will be more challenging, and jobs will become increasingly complex.

Strategic Role of HR

  1. Successful HR departments will focus on organizational performance.
  2. HR’s value will be to have the right people ready at the right time: recruiting leaders to join the company’s mix of talent and keeping the "bench" full of enabled, competent workers.
  3. The focus of the HR function will be human capital development and organizational productivity; HR may be renamed to reflect this.
  4. HR will evolve from strategic business partnership to strategic business leadership (driving change and results, not just monitoring them).
  5. A key HR role in the future will be multidisciplinary consulting around individual, team, business unit and corporate performance.
  6. Managers will grow to depend more and more on HR professionals as they realize that good people management can be the strategic advantage in the next decade.
  7. Leading change will become HR’s greatest contribution to the corporation.
  8. More and more businesses will use HR as a strategic partner.
  9. HR will have a "seat at the table" as part of the top management team and report directly to the CEO in most companies.
  10. A key HR role will be managing increasingly scarce human and intellectual capital.

Workforce, January 1998, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 50-51.

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