By Judit Price, MS, CCM, CPRW, IJCTC, CDFI
A large part of my job requires that I keep as current as possible with industry experts. While trend analysis can be questionable when applied to a single individual, I have found that over time many of these trend forecasts do permeate the world-of-work and eventually become standard practice. Examples of predictions from past reports that have been shown to be of value include new hiring patterns, job security (or insecurity), resume changes and, of course, the advent of social media as tools for both job search and career building.
Nevertheless, some employment experts are starting to sense a turnaround for the general working population. Some companies, Google for example, may be outliers with their progressive employment policies. But, perhaps not. For example, a recent article in the Boston Globe pointed out that the United States is the only major industry country that does not have a paid leave policy. Yet, the article also pointed out firms that offered paid leave programs have demonstrated lower turnover, higher productivity and especially important, a higher retention of talented women employees.
In addition, the shift to off-shoring has certainly abated, if not reversed, and the competition for qualified workers has intensified with some upward pressure on compensation. Employers are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to recruit people who are qualified to do their work. A limited supply of workers with the right education, training, and experience is causing employers with inadequate staffing to take another look at why they are not meeting customer expectations and/or not maintaining market position.
As a result, there may be a gradual increase in attention to employee retention. The rising heat in the employment market is already motivating an increasing number of employees to change jobs, according to government statistics, often responding to attractive incentives. Employers with higher attrition rates may be having increasing difficulty hiring quality replacements. Retention strategies seem to be gaining attention.
This may also be good news for older workers. In need of a stable workforce comprised of people with wisdom, experience, and reliability, employers will emphasize retention and hiring of older workers. Seniors seeking income-full or supplemental, social relationships, and a desire to stay active and productive may now have more options to continue working.
It may also have implications for senior lifestyles with changes in retirement plans to lifetime lifestyle funding. With the evaporation of traditional retirement, long-term wealth accumulation plans will modify pay-out options to offer greater flexibility. As people age, they may draw from savings to finance sabbaticals, pay for world travel, fund education, or subsidize other non-work activities.
Competition, the need for a well trained work force, including the need to continually upgrade skills, will result in larger investments in corporate training. More companies will grow their education and development programs, utilizing internal resources, community colleges and universities, and outside contractors. Emphasis will be placed on the development of future leaders, providing fast-tracking in those organizations that already lack competent leadership.
Workers desiring more control over their time, seeking better life-work balance, will persuade employers to facilitate telecommuting options. Utilizing available and emerging technology, remote employees will be even more highly connected to co-workers, customers, and company leaders. Long distance and international telecommuting will continue to increase as corporations grow globally.
Employers competing for qualified workers are now beginning to support a wide range of options of work arrangements including shorter work-weeks, flexible hours, and job-role modification. Increasing emphasis on results, with managers and subordinates becoming more equal-like partners-in accomplishing work will continue, as even in organizations with deep hierarchies, work environments feel more level.
Managers have become increasingly frustrated with the low level of preparation of the workforce, particularly entry level applicants. Their complaints are being heard by senior corporate executives who are looking for greater performance from public schools and technical, community, and four-year colleges. Most community leaders are trying to focus on resources to improve local education to tomorrow’s workforce.
In general, these anecdotal examples are good news for those that see themselves as career builders, and understand the requirements for success in the future world-of-work. The big question is whether we are at the beginning of a major reversal of the employment hiring, retention and compensation policies of the past.
Clearly, a strong and growing economy, government policies, the proliferation of public private/private partnerships and the view by employers that employees are important stakeholders, will determine where we go from here.