UPfront Ten predictions for 2004

American strategic business futurists, Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, offer these 10 workforce and workplace forecasts for 2004. Remember, they are for the US market but they are trends to watch here too.
1. Increased employment market turbulence. More job churn by more secure employees will threaten corporate stability and capacity to serve customers, particularly for employers who took employees for granted in recent years.
2. shift to sellers’ market in labour meaning employers will face the most severe shortage of skilled labour in history. Corporations will become more aggressive about attracting and holding talent while employees will change jobs to find their preferred employer.
3. Increasingly fluid international job movement. The US economy and skilled labour shortages will drive even more (US) jobs to other countries. However, some jobs will return when employers find the strategy doesn’t always work.
4. Retirement will evaporate and retirees will move into jobs in other fields, start their own businesses, and engage in other activities to remain active and productive.
5. Training and education will accelerate as corporate development programmes reach out to new employees and existing staff. Demand for vocational education will grow but educators will be challenged to produce productive graduates ready for faster-moving world.
6. The leadership deficit will be crippling. And leadership development will take on new importance. Up and coming managers will be expected to learn and practise leadership skills before assuming new positions.
7. Flexible employment will be more popular with employers offering more flexible hours, work from home options and technology available to work for employers in distant locations.
8. Casual is here to stay. Informality will continue to dominate in clothing, culture, office decor, and workplace structural design.
9. Agility rules. Companies will recreate themselves to be more agile, nimble and responsive to customers and employees. Relationships, resources, knowledge, and speed will become strategic weapons.
10. Workers will become more independent. More Americans will become independent contractors, selling their services on project, contract, or set-term basis. The trend will stimulate the emergence of specialised staffing firms and electronic communities to connect workers with employers. The New Zealand Government and trade unions are trying to swim against the tide on this one. For more see www.hermangroup.com/archive.html.

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