A Publication of WTVP

Every two years the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducts a Workplace Forecast. The 2006 study’s findings mirror the trends and challenges faced by area employers. Three key ongoing themes—the rising cost of health care, increased global competitiveness, and the aging population—underlie the majority of trends. Below are this year’s top 10 HR trends—i.e., those having the greatest impact in the workplace and the HR profession:

• Rising healthcare costs.
• Increased use of outsourcing or off-shoring to other countries.
• Threat of increased health care/medical costs on the economic competitiveness of the United States.
• Increased demand for work/life balance.
• Retirement of large numbers of baby boomers at the same time.
• New attitudes toward aging and retirement as baby boomers reach retirement age.
• Rise in individuals and families without health insurance.
• Increase in identity theft.
• Work intensification as employers try to increase productivity with fewer employees.
• Vulnerability of technology to attack or disaster.

According to Susan Meisinger, president/CEO of SHRM, “Increasing market pressures are a growing focus for HR professionals. Issues like health care cost, access to skilled workers, and business practices are all key areas where HR can and must play a substantial role in helping organizations be more globally competitive.”

For HR professionals, the most critical demographic issue was the large number of baby boomers slated to retire at the same time and the implications this has for leadership, knowledge, retention, and generational issues in the workplace. However, many baby boomers may approach aging and retirement in a new way, resulting in many of them staying in the workplace and many remaining active in other ways. Overall, many of the trends were interrelated. For example, if baby boomers stay in the workforce, that could have an impact on work/life balance issues and healthcare costs.

Many trends indicate a potential rise in employees’ feelings of insecurity through more intense global competition for jobs, more individuals without access to health insurance, and fears about data security and identity theft and the vulnerability of technology to attack or disaster. These circumstances could lead to a reexamination of the relationship between employers and employees, especially employer obligations to provide benefits such as health coverage and pensions, as well as the importance of feeling secure to employee job satisfaction.

Clearly in light of these trends, there are many issues that make planning for the future challenging. The survey shows five overall actions HR professionals either have implemented or are planning to implement in their organizations:

• Train managers to recognize/respond to generational issues.
• Change health care policies and plans to reflect the demographic changes.
• Do succession planning.
• Measure human capital.
• Change health and safety policies so they reflect the aging workforce. IBI