One of the first sessions I attended #SHRM13 was a presentation by Gary Kushner. Gary talked about the 5 global trends affecting HR, a subject I always find interesting. It was one of the better sessions I heard.
The 5 trends
I don’t think any of my readers will find these trends to be any great revelations. I have talked about each of them in the past. But it is always good to continue to read and hear them, because even though they are trends that affect everyone they will have individual effects for each and every company. So you need to interpret these through your filters.
Gary pointed out that it was not too long ago that the way you got something to someone was to fold your document up in thirds and stick it in an envelope. We seldom do that anymore. (One of the reasons my wife’s former employer, an envelope maker, declared bankruptcy.) But if you did at that time it would take several days to a week to be received. The response would take an equal amount of time. Basically two weeks would transpire. Then FedEx came into existence and we dropped two weeks to two days. The fax machines dropped two days to 2 hours and the Internet dropped it to two minutes. (Thanks Al!)
This speed of communication has had a tremendous effect on how HR operates and how businesses in general conduct their transactions. Can it get faster? I think it already has. With the use of the “cloud” documents no longer have to be emailed. In fact all the parties involved can collaborate on them at the same time. Thus we need to have savvy employees who are both technologically adept but also able to work in collaborative ways. How does that change who you look for and what you train people on?
Four leaf clover workforce
According to Gary we will continue to move away from traditional models of employment and continue to move to what he called the four leaf clover model. We have employees, temps, outsourced labor and free agents. All of these things already exist, but the task of managing these and making them an effective and productive machine is something that many HR departments don’t have a handle on. I personally see a much greater use of “free agents.” The issue we will have to navigate is classifying these people correctly as independent contractors, a task not now well handled by many.
Here in the U.S. we love talking about Gen-Y, the Millennials. There are a lot of things that we will have to deal with them in the workplace. But Gary points out the next generation after that which will be in the workforce within the next ten years. He called them “Generation Wireless.” They will be interacting with everything without ever having been attached to a desk. How are you going to be prepared to interact with, manage, and measure a group of employees who may operates solely from their smart phone? In my view social media will play a major part of that and that will require major shifts in policies and laws. (Hey USDOL, wake up to the realities of the coming world!)
It has almost become a trite phrase that the world is flatter, smaller, or whatever other word you want to use. But the reality is that without much effort you can reach across the world and interact with a person or a business. Many other countries are dealing with the same issues we have in our workforces. So we can learn from each other.
Workers today see the world differently than they did just a decade ago. They will view it even differently by 2020 (a short 6.5 years from now. Can you say OMG?) Gen-Y workers already object to what they consider corporate and government intrusion in their personal lives, such as monitoring or restricting their social media activity. They often are determined to disobey corporate rules. So you need to be prepared to deal with those changing attitudes. There is a world-wide change in other attitudes as well on what constitutes a family or a marriage that will have a major impact on companies. Or will it?
Kushner made some interesting points in his presentation and although much was not new to me I found it useful to revisit these ideas, as should you. Your future in HR will depend on it.