Peering into a crystal ball

What does 2003 hold in store for the workplace? Here's a top 10 list.

What does 2003 hold in store for the workplace? According to one consulting firm, employers will be scrambling for talent like never before as the economy begins to boom again and employees search for their personal employer of choice.

Here’s the top 10 workforce and workplace forecasts for 2003:

1. As the economy picks up, employers will face the most severe shortage of skilled labour in history. Unprecedented churning in the labor marketplace will begin by mid-year. Skilled labor shortages in the United States will move even more jobs to other countries where workers will improve their skills to perform new tasks.

2. More people will become independent contractors, selling their services to employers on a project or set-term basis. This movement will expand the work of specialized staffing firms and electronic job boards.

3. As the economy picks up, employers who have treated employees badly during the tight economy will be in trouble. More workers will leave, laid-off employees won't return and fewer applicants will choose to work there.

4. Workers who are fortunate enough to have found their preferred work environment will tend to stay longer. People will seek stability, but may change jobs more frequently in their search for their personal employer of choice.

5. Corporate training and education will accelerate to accommodate new employees and the redevelopment of existing staff. The demand for vocational education will begin to grow as people realize the increasing need — and higher income — for skilled workers.

6. Portable benefits will come into vogue as employees negotiate individualized compensation arrangement with employers forced to be accommodating.

7. Fewer people will retire completely. Retirees will move into jobs in other fields, start their own businesses and engage in other activities to remain active and productive.

8. Re-emphasis on telecommuting will inspire substantial changes in where and how companies do business. Space allocation and management styles will shift to accommodate this flexibility.

9. Employers will be more selective in hiring. Culture "fit" will become as important as skills, experience and attitude.

10. Leadership development will take on new importance as employers discover serious inadequacies. Senior executives who do not demonstrate leadership qualities will be asked to leave. Up and coming managers will be expected to learn and practice leadership skills before being moved into senior or even mid-level positions.

Source: The Herman Group, a U.S.-based management consulting firm.

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