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Herman Trend Alert: 2010 Workforce/Workplace Forecast

The business “futurists” from Herman Trend Alert give their annual predictions on what to expect in the workplace next year.


Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at

Each year at this time, The Herman Group issues its annual forecast. Once more, this year, we offer you our full forecast (longer than our usual alert) for the coming year:

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1. Cutbacks and Re-Engineering Will Continue into 2010
Expect ongoing reductions in force as some employers continue to optimize their workforces and eliminate "redundancy." We caution these employers to be very careful, because we know that 54 percent of today’s employees are ready to jump as soon as the economy improves. They are currently "corporate cocooning."

2. Shortages of Certain Skill Sets Will Become More Acute
As the economy begins to recover, certain skill sets will be more critical and difficult to find. These high-demand workers will be more demanding about their work schedules, environment, etc. The wisest employers will embrace not only flex-time, but flex-place as well.


3. Employers Will Embrace Innovative Ideas to Reward their Valued Workers
This innovation will include non-financial ways and even non-reward (recognition only) ways to add value for their top talent; these innovative ideas will come from the employees themselves. Employers that do not mine the collective intelligence of their workers will find themselves unable to optimize profits.
4. Fear and Apprehension Continue to Reduce Productivity
A significant percentage of employees continue to worry about the future. These negative feelings will persist, unless addressed. Transparency, besides being one of those elements employees seek, will be imperative.


5. More Employers will invest in a Variety of Health Care Cost-Cutting Strategies
Besides wellness programs to address expensive unproductive behaviors (like smoking and over-eating), more large employers will embrace ideas like on-site clinics and health coaches. For some candidates, the cost of not complying with the prospective companies’ wellness programs will change their employee value propositions so drastically that they will choose to work elsewhere.

6. Focus on Engagement will replace the Focus on Retention
Recognizing that with engagement comes not only retention, but greater productivity and profitability, too, employers will change their focus. We will see Directors of Retention morph into Directors of Employee Engagement. The next step (coming much later than 2010) will be to recognize the importance of the total "Internal and External Customer Experience."


7. Increasing Attention to Succession Planning
Around the globe, we see an increasing attention to succession planning and management. However, the issue of succession preparation continues to take a backseat to succession planning. This big mistake will begin to be felt in 2010, when Baby Boomer retirements combined with the lack of trained people becomes a critical problem. Succession management continues to be critical to long-term success.

8. Employers That Did Not Build Bench Strength Will Pay More to Hire Experience
Organizations that did not take the opportunity presented by this business slowdown to send their people for more training, will have to pay more to hire trained experienced people.


9. Some Employers will eliminate Reward Programs
Misunderstanding Dan Pink’s new book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us," some employers will abolish their reward programs altogether. This ill-advised shift will cause significant, negative, unintended consequences.

10. Burned-Out Employees will Begin Leaving Employers

More than 80 percent of today’s employees feel overworked and under-appreciated. Too many organizations have survived and maintained some level of profitability by overloading their long-term employees. Once we begin to see positive job growth in the second half of 2010, some employees will feel confident enough to leave their companies.


11. Employers Will Accommodate Older Workers like Never Before
The exodus of their long-term employees will challenge some employers to get the work done, without resorting to hiring expensive contract help or paying high fees to recruiters. Enlightened employers will mine the rolls of their retired workers and hire them back on a part-time, temporary or seasonal basis. These seasoned professionals will be welcomed back, in spite of the fact that they will dictate their own terms.



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