Last Updated Mar 14, 2011 4:20 PM EDT
Every two years, SHRM conducts a survey among its members, asking them to look into their crystal balls and predict the future. But the group also asks about changes that these professionals plan to make in their companies this very year, making a reasonably up-to-date to-do list a fine substitute for a crystal ball.
This year, 1,240 HR professionals participated in the survey. There was wide agreement that workplace trends will be driven by these factors:
- The necessity of bridging the generation gap. The exodus of Baby Boomers from the work force. The Baby Boomers' retirement will put a lot of focus on the Millennial generation (often, the Baby Boomers' kids) and managers who know how to bridge the generation gap between much of senior leadership and these up-and-comers.
- The toll that the crazy cost of health insurance will take on employees' health and pocket books. Yes, companies plan to be passing along some of the costs of health insurance to their employees. But they're also worried that employees with bare-bones coverage will skip medications and doctors' visits, leading to increased illness, chronic disease that goes unmanaged, and lost productivity.
- Increased competition from China and India for jobs. These countries not only provide markets for U.S. goods, but they are global competition for skilled workers. As the structure of the U.S. economy changes, that competition has far-flung effects. HR professionals are not at all certain that the Millennial and X generations will have the skills necessary to replace retiring baby boomers.
So what are HR professionals planning to do to head off these weaknesses? Here are some of their responses to survey questions, giving a window into how your workplace might change over the next year.
- 85% of HR professionals will be expecting workers to be more productive in 2011. There will be more emphasis on linking employee performance to company-wide goals.
- 60% say co-pays for health insurance are going up
- 80% will implement wellness programs for employees
- 75% will invest more in employee training and development
- 59% will train line managers to respond to and overcome generational differences
- 67% say there will be more flextime in 2011
- 63% will be increasing the size of their workforce over the next year
- 63% say wages are going up
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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and consultant. Follow her on twitter at www. twitter.com/weisul.