This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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for Pandemic Success


  The Herman Trend Alert

January 1, 2014

2014 Workforce/Workplace Forecast

Every year, The Herman Group issues its annual forecast. We have added some new areas of discussion for this forecast. Enjoy.

1. Recruiting will continue to intensify among many sectors. With continuing recovery in the United States and Europe, companies of all sizes will take on new staff. The growing challenge will be to find talent in the technical fields, particularly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas. Few companies will continue their reluctance to add staff, though massive re-engineering will continue as well. (See #9 below) Worldwide, we will see continued recovery in Brazil (4.0 percent GDP growth) and India (6.0 percent growth), and China with slowed growth, but still at 7.5 percent growth. (China's increase had been projected at 8.2.) Europe, while it continues to emerge from the economic doldrums, will continue at low rates of growth.

2. Expanding workforce shortages will challenge employers. Employers' reluctance to invest in training and development has resulted in severe shortages of trained, experienced workers in many fields. Recruiting experienced people will be increasingly difficult. Re-instituting internal training will not be optional. As we saw in the late 1990s, some employers will actually go out of business because they cannot find the skilled labor they need. Enlightened employers in all fields will work with local schools, colleges, and universities to begin bonding with talented young people, while they are still in school.

3. Increasing use of high technology will change workforce needs. At the least sophisticated levels, workers must now possess computer skills. However, at more sophisticated levels, the higher technology requires having employees who have great facility with the systems and programs. These folks will not only be more difficult to recruit, but in many cases, impossible to find. Employers are already compromising, having to hire two different people to find the skill sets they must have. People with higher skill levels will be in high demand and will be able to command high salaries.

4. In the US and elsewhere, unemployment rates will remain relatively high. Domestically, unemployment will remain over 6.0 percent, though this forecast takes into account acceleration in recovery. China’s reported unemployment will remain fairly high (for China), in spite of their fast growing domestic markets. Employers worldwide will continue to face the challenge that many of the unemployed for various reasons are not employable---either because they lack they workforce or life skills.

5. Climate changes will affect productivity. Due to the accelerating occurrence of natural disasters and stronger storms, employers will find worker productivity diminished. Some will be directly affected by the storms themselves; others will be affected indirectly, as friends and relatives of their employees cope with natural catastrophes worldwide. More companies will understand the necessity of having Disaster Operations Plans. Consultants in this growing field will prosper.

6. Economic Developers will embrace workforce development. With growing shortages of skilled labor, more communities have understood that their economic growth is dependent upon having an available skilled workforce. Expect to see more partnering between these two groups. Employers have an additional challenge: with increasing levels of technology, they need to recruit fewer people, but with higher skill levels. These folks are in short supply.

7. Some employers will abandon gamification. We expected gamification to gain momentum in the field of internal marketing to help employers bond with their associates. Unfortunately, according to Gartner, 80 percent of gamification programs have not met their business objectives. Believing that it is the process, not the fault of their own poor designs, behind these failures, some misguided employers will leave gamification. Anyone who really understands the Millennials and their successors knows that this move will only make it more difficult to engage them. Making work fun will not be optional.

8. Companies will continue to capitalize on their internal social networks. Companies have only begin to see the power of social networking in recruiting, in training and development, and even in engagement. Large organizations will increase use of their intranets and internal password-protected sites to build team spirit and strengthen the bonding employees feel with each other.

9. More long-term unemployed will take jobs in less-popular fields. Some people who have been unemployed for years will wake up to the reality that they will not find employment in their previous high-paying fields. Having depleted their savings, they will resort to taking positions in retail, restaurant, and insurance companies. Some smart franchisors will capitalize on their leadership talent, offering work-to-own positions that will make them entrepreneurs as well. Moreover, we will see more individuals identifying local needs and creating small businesses to supply those services.

10. Re-engineering will persist, as a corporate strategy. Companies large and small will continue to eliminate positions and hire other (often more highly skilled workers. With automation of many jobs and processes, employers will continue their drive to optimize productivity, efficiency, and profit. They will largely ignore the effect on employee engagement, even when it affects their bottom line. Enlightened employers will call upon their employees to help them find these efficiencies---without outsourcing or getting rid of people.

11. Employers worldwide who have ignored engagement and retention will find their profitability affected. Higher employee turnover will have repercussions, including much greater difficulty in recruiting and significantly reduced profitability. Improving economies worldwide will signal to employees that they can finally leave their positions and not worry about finding others. This higher level of confidence in future prosperity may well result in high levels of job-hopping---though in the US continued uncertainty fueled by the Affordable Care Act may put a damper on this confidence.

12. Escalating societal violence will take its toll on security and productivity. With the rise in the number of incidents in schools and workplaces, we will see an increase in the vigilance on the part of supervisors and leaders. This increased vigilance will have a real as well as an emotional price tag attached. Unstable or mentally ill workers will have a much more difficult time finding employment. As workers concern mounts, productivity will also take be affected negatively.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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