‘It is the business of the future to be dangerous’ said Alfred North Whitehead, the celebrated mathematician and philosopher nearly a century back. In a world where change is ceaseless, where everything around us is destined to change; change is inevitable. Therefore, people, technology and ideas will become dinosaurs unless change is embraced.
One can say with conviction that Workplace 2020 will be different, yet not different. There will be lot of innovation around work technology platforms; yet people, who are already in workforce, will change, painfully. Most of us, if we remain active in labor market of 2020 will resist change, a reality we may not accept, willingly. Though, new members in workforce will bring fresh perspectives and mindset; leading & managing workforce will continue to be a challenge.
It is difficult to crystal ball gazing, yet following ‘change’ may surface by 2020:
Workforce Profile: Profile of Workforce 2020 will not be radically different; but profile will continue to evolve in its constituents. We have already started experiencing changing contours of workforce, especially if we compare it with Workforce 1990. Large scale international migration has been a reality and it will continue despite quite a few nations resorting protective measures & barriers to regulate flight of talent. China and India will have much larger numbers of blue and white collar workers in their labor market from other countries. Not surprisingly, UN Population Fund 2006 document highlights that never before in human history people worked beyond boundaries of their countries. If all such ‘migrants’ were to live in ‘one’ country, that country will be the world’s fifth largest and populous nation today. Larger number of women employees accompanied by increased number of special people, people with various physiological challenges, will abound workforce in coming decade. Emphasis on gender diversity and increased sensitivity towards people with disabilities will add spice, variety and challenges to workforce profile. Talent management professionals will have much complex task at their hand to manage a multi-national workforce with a heavy component of female workers & managers.
Digital Natives: White Paper on Workforce 2020 by CISCO highlights domination of Digital Natives, a tribe accustomed to receive information faster than anyone, in fact ‘really fast’ in coming decades. This tribe likes graphics, random access, instant gratification, frequent rewards and they prefer games more than serious work. Work Place 2020 will be a veritable human zoo. Another CISCO Survey (2010) found that 60% respondents didn’t believe that they have to work in an office to be productive; and 66% wanted flexibility in how they work and will accept a lower paying job if it offered more flexibility @ work. In fact, this survey highlighted a less articulated (but strongly perceived) right of the Digital Native to work from home on company supplied communication devices. A completely new set of aspirations, assumptions and expectations @ work will be altogether different and deemed ‘normal’ like a live-in relationship today.
Talent Scarcity: Talent wars will be fought lot more bitterly and brutally on corporate citadels. Despite mushroom growth of academic institutions & temples of learning across length and breadth of this subcontinent & elsewhere, talent will be in short supply. Employability will remain a challenge as barring handful institutions, few will invest in making management & engineering education relevant to the continuously evolving universe of work. Debates will garner space everywhere: seminars, magazines, websites, parliament & government will be crying hoarse to increase supply of talent, making such verbal assaults an exercise in futility. PwC Survey 2009 of covering 4300 college students in 44 countries summarized its finding by stating its belief that people (talent) supply will be the most critical factor for business success. War for talent will remind us the days of cold war.
Work Ethics: Loyalty & work commitment will become four letter words in the dictionary of digital natives. Growth and advancement will be synonymous to ‘moving forward in life and @ work’. Career Navigation will be used for career progression; and individual dashboards will replace annual reviews. Managing will be passé and third party- external coaching & mentoring will be flavors of decade. Digital Natives will like to have an altogether different menu to choose his gratifications. Above cited PwC Survey 2009 noted that 4300 revealed that college students in 44 countries expect mainly to work in an office, but not necessarily in their native country and yet keep ‘regular’ work hours. This group values personal growth opportunity higher than cash bonuses. Probably, lot many will go on holidays & life exploration trips a bit more often than today. Bohemian will rise in many of us, and old fashioned protestant work ethic will give way to an epicurean life style
Leadership DNA: ‘Leader 2020’ will have to reinvent & reorient herself, big time. No more command leadership will be valid. ‘Meta-management’ will be name of the game. Leaders will, Gary Hamel believes, make hierarchies less formal, create internal markets for ideas & talents, take advantage of diversity and globalization, and develop holistic employee performance measures that emphasize personal passions & innate talents, expand employee autonomy and create democracy of information. Decentralize and ‘multi-centralize’ will be new words with new emphasis. Corporate entities encouraging its employees to elect corporate leaders will be seen as employers of choice. Leadership will stand re-defined.
Indeed, it’s a steep & tough hill climb from here!