A Sobering Look at How Work — and Workers — Are Changing Globally

I’m a big fan of the SHRM Foundation. The resources they put in the hands of HR professionals all over the world are impressive.

They do this by funding academic research in areas of interest to HR and business leaders, they provide scholarships for HR professionals to further their professional development and credentials, and they partner with organizations like The Economist Intelligence Unit to provide deep dives into the most pressing people issues of the day.

evolution-of-work-and-the-worker-1-638I like that. A lot.

While attending the SHRM Foundation’s most recent Thought Leader Retreat in the fall, I picked up this nifty piece of thought leadership from 2014 — What’s Next: Future Global Trends Affecting Your Organization — Evolution of Work and the Worker.

9 key changes in the world of work

Published in partnership with The Economist Intelligence Unit, this report discusses the outcomes of “a rigorous process of surveys, expert-panel discussions and analysis” to identify key themes that look at What’s Next in the evolution of work and the worker.

The executive summary lists nine key findings – some are just what you’d expect in considering how work is changing and how the role of workers is changing. Some, however, might be surprising to you:

  1. Demographic shifts post conflicting challenges.
  2. Young populations neither in education nor employment will elevate concerns of a lost generation and the potential for social and political unrest in the near future.
  3. Burgeoning workplace diversity requires sophisticated managerial response.
  4. A disconnect between educational standards and organizational demand.
  5. Services sector on the rise globally at the expense of agriculture and industry.
  6. Technology transforms workforce composition and culture.
  7. Wage expectations conflict with increased focus on shareholder value.
  8. Inequality on the rise as technology decimates the mid-skilled tier.
  9. Companies balance pros and cons of investment in new regions of development.

A focus on global workplace challenges

The discussions in this 48 page report are fascinating and cover a lot of ground. Each topic has graphics from a multitude of sources, and if you just read the graphs, you’d start to develop a new awareness of the global challenges we face in providing sustainable people strategies for our organizations.

This one tells a pretty interesting story:eiu-shrm-foundation-1

Another one that takes an interesting look at global competitiveness – and perhaps an outcome of the chart above – is here:

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A need to focus on all the levers being pushed

I encourage you to pull down this report. It’s a little more than a year old, but it highlights the global issues with which organizations are grappling.

HR professionals need to have metadata like this at top of mind. Whether you’re leading HR in a one-location organization, or an HR team member in a large, global organization – work is changing. And, workers are really changing. And some of the reasons they are changing have to do with what’s happening in other places in the world.

It’s not enough any more to only know what the trend data is for your pocket of the world. We – especially HR professionals – need to understand all the levers that are pushing on our people, our industry and our work.

This report could assist in developing a broader understanding of why this is important.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.

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