How will the downturn change the future of work?

by 03 Nov 2009

Once powerful employer brands are at risk of being unable to attract top talent in the next decade, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report on how the downturn will change the future of work.

The bonds of trust between some employers and employees have been eroded by pay and promotion freezes, cuts in recruitment and diminished training budgets, the report found.

In contrast, some organisations have excelled in the unstable environment, doing more with less and engaging and developing their employees at a time when many individuals view career prospects as stagnant or diminishing.

“The winners and losers in the war for talent are starting to reveal themselves as impact of long-term people decisions taken during the downturn begins to be felt,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Jon Williams.

“Businesses that have continued to focus on investment and employee engagement, while staving off the global financial crisis, are emerging as clear leaders. Likewise, businesses that continued to offer their employees new opportunities and invested in their people pipeline are now at a competitive advantage.”

The report, Managing tomorrow’s people: how the downturn will change the future of work, uses scenario planning to map how the crisis will impact the widely accepted shortage of talent predicted for tomorrow’s world.

“Employers are sailing into unknown waters. With an ageing population there will be up to four different generations in the workplace, in the next decade, and this presents new and significant challenges for employers,” Williams said.

“The success or failure of people strategies will have a decisive impact on which businesses become the big brands and top employers of the next decade – some clear heroes and villains have already revealed themselves but, with things changing daily, there is everything to play for.”

With the rapidly changing and increasingly complex nature of the workplace in mind, the report envisages a changed employment landscape where employers fish in dark pools for specialist talent, issue business passports for highly-mobile executives and how workers with technical skills behave like individual companies outsourcing their administration and billing needs to international trade guilds.

“Health and wellbeing, global mobility and technology issues will continue to rise up the corporate agenda. The downturn also presents a shift in performance-related pay, which is changing the notion of reward and retirement arrangements for governments, business leaders and individuals,” Williams said.

“As employees increasingly choose employers that fit their own priorities, ideals and lifestyles, businesses need to consider where they fit in terms of the financial and personal benefits they offer and whether or not this is how they want to be positioned in future.”


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