Is This Really How the World of HR Will Look in 2022?

Editor’s Note: It’s a TLNT annual tradition to count down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 46. Our regular content will return on Jan. 5, 2015. Happy Holidays! 

The world of workplace rewards in 2022 may feature scary aspects where constantly-monitored employees are overworked, paid only for performance and pitted against each other, only to be discarded if found wanting, according to a major survey.

An alternative prediction was that the employer of the future would be dedicated to enriching individual worker talents and fulfilling personal interests while minimizing environmental impact. The third possibility described a world featuring networks of independent contractors cooperating in virtual work relationships.

These predictions came from PwC, the consulting firm that polled 10,000 people in the U.S., UK, Germany, India and China and over 500 HR managers across the world for this report.

3 scenarios for the world of work in 2022

They say that “the recruitment, reward and employee engagement strategies likely to be most relevant” merely eight years from now will include sensors monitoring employee psychological behaviors, a Chief Performance Officer title combining HR and Finance functions, and remote work extending to include surgery and other professional services.

Wisely hedging their bets to cover all possibilities, the consultants offer three scenarios for the future world of work they see for 2022.

  1. Large corporations become mini-states with social roles;
  2. Specialization promotes the rise of modular collaborative networks;
  3. Business strategy follows social and environmental agendas.

As skill gaps grow and the velocity of change accelerates, HR is predicted to go one of three different ways, becoming more proactive and vitally strategic, outsourced as a transactional function, or the driver of corporate social responsibility.

Possible roles for HR

Quite a range of options are expected in this three-cornered universe:

  • Corporate is King – HR becomes a major player at the big table, driving a relentless capitalistic pressure to perform, with intrusive effects on personal freedoms;
  • Small is Beautiful — HR is considered essentially irrelevant except as an outside vendor coordinating independent contractor services;
  • Companies Care — HR plays the “company conscience” role as ethical/environmental motives dominate employer strategies.

Few of these interesting predictions seem to include most of the traditional work relationships found in HR today. Most enterprises tend to take the capitalistic approach. Evidence is scarce to expect that many will refocus their workplace rewards systems to meet those new general standards predicted to be the reality only eight years from now.

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I wonder if that means that the new models will swiftly effectively replace all the old ones. That hasn’t happened in the past.

Will all this change happen in just 8 years?

Even now in the 21st Century, feudal work patterns and sweatshops similar to the beginning of the industrial revolution can still be found along with Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management versions. It is hard to imagine all that vested tradition being suddenly swept away by new outbursts of capitalism on steroids, social responsibility objectives and/or snazzy new technology enabling more remote workers and networked independent contractor relationships.

If the seeds of the new HR approaches forecasted for the next decade are not found already deeply imbedded in current practices, it seems doubtful that the globe will experience changes as dramatic as those, particularly not as quickly as they are promised.

Read the report yourself. Do you see many reward systems consistent with those predictions existing in today’s workplace?

This was originally published at the Compensation Café blog, where you can find a daily dose of caffeinated conversation on everything compensation.

E. James (Jim) Brennan is Senior Associate of ERI Economic Research Institute, the premier publisher of interactive pay and living-cost surveys. Semi-retired after over 40 years in HR corporate and consulting roles throughout the U.S. and Canada, he’s pretty much been there done that (articles, books, speeches, seminars, radio/TV, advisory posts, in-trial expert witness stuff, etc.), and will express his opinion on almost anything. Contact him at ej.brennan@erieri.com.

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