Painting future work scenarios

by 11 Dec 2007

ORGANISATIONS WILL need to provide scenarios of future business models to help companies anticipate change and address how they will attract, retain and motivate the people they will need in the future.

The report, which was released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, projects three possible future scenarios for work.

In one, business is king and big companies reign supreme. In another, social responsibility is paramount and consumers and employees drive corporate accountability and responsibility, while in the third, localism prevails, and a global network of linked, but separate, small businesses prosper while large companies fail.

The role of people management and HR is examined in detail in each of these “worlds”. In the “business is king” scenario, competition for the right people is fierce and companies are forced to extreme lengths to get the people they want by providing increasingly sophisticated benefits packages.

Through these, employees can be tied-in by “lifestyle dependence” deals where the company picks up part of the tab not only for childcare and pension provision but also transportation, food and even accommodations.

In the “social responsibility” scenario, employment law drives responsible corporate behaviour. And in the “fragmented, networked” scenario, human resources as a discrete function has become obsolete.

Scenario planning, which was pioneered by Shell in the 1970s, provides a compelling vision of possible future business worlds and can help organisational leaders discuss how to survive the talent crunch and thrive in years to come, said Vander Linde, a partner in the advisory practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Companies can use these scenarios to begin developing a strategy for their future, whether they focus on one model or a blend of models,” he said.

“Once they arrive at a deeper understanding of the most likely scenario for their company, they will be better able to attract and retain the talent they need today to create a sustainable business tomorrow.”

Steve Rimmer, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ HR services practice, said that prospective employees’ changing expectations will have a dramatic impact on business as young hires move along their career paths.

“Only those businesses that fully understand the possible scenarios and then start today to build an organisation that will best meet their future employees’needs will be well placed to compete,” he said.

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