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What's happening with our workforce?

workforce.gifLast week, there was a common theme to my keynotes for the University of Oklahoma and for the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association : “what’s happening with our workforce?”

There is an intense degree of interest amongst executives as to the extent of the looming skills shortage, how to retain and attract critical skill sets, and how to deal with the challenges of the next generation.

I’ve rolled this into an overall keynote topic: “What’s Happening With Our Workforce: Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Skills Agility.” In these types of talks, I’ve been taking a look at a wide variety of trends:

  • every organization is faced with an increasingly complex, restless, age-diverse disloyal, and highly specialized workforce — and a workforce that will have the longest life-span ever, from hyperactive 15 year olds to wizened, not-ready-to-quit 85 year olds.
  • with the coming “end of retirement,” most companies will come to realize they’ll need a lot of telephones with big buttons for members the 70+ folks who are still a part of their workforce — and a lot of innovative workplace practices as well
  • the arrival of “Gen-Connect” — the kids who have been wired with a mouse since birth — will lead to the question of whether “good luck” will be the only possible response to the question of “Managing Gen-Y.”
  • this workplace weirdness will only be compounded by the ongoing rapid evolution of knowledge and skills, such that most organizations will find it impossible to find the highly specialized skills needed in the economy of the future
  • The “War for Talent” will be the new competitive battleground, and organizations that can attract, engage, retain and amuse an increasingly complex workforce will be the ones who find success in the rapidly evolving global economy.
  • in an era such as this, firms are faced with a future that requires a new form of human capital agility: the ability to deploy the right skills at the right time for the right purpose — regardless of where the skill might be required, or where the skill is sourced
  • at the same time, organizations are faced with an increasingly global talent base, a reality that demands new forms of collaboration, insightful project management, and deep insight into the effective utilization of those skills. The way to the future is clear: the no longer about managing time: it’s about successful skills deployment

I’ve captured these thoughts on the workplace challenges of the future in a recent Trends Overview: 21st Unique Characteristics of 21st Centuries Skills, available here.

Given the number of calls that I receive, this is certainly one of the hottest topics for 2007!

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