HR and the New World of Work – ConnectingHR 3

A few weeks ago I followed a link on Twitter to an article entitled ‘Are Jobs Obsolete?’ which appeared on the CNN news site. You can read it here. It was an opinion piece, so open to interpretation and analysis, but it certainly resonated with me, articulating many of the things that had concerned me about the future of work.

I shared the article with my network and discussed it with those whom I was helping in the planning and organising of the forthcoming ConnectingHR Unconference. After a few beers at the Square Pig (where else?!) the core theme for #CHRU3 was born…

HR and the New World of Work

Particularly looking at:

  • Are existing organisation models sustainable in a new economic future?
  • What is the future model of ’employment’?

The original article poses some strong questions of its own, as in:

The question we have to begin to ask ourselves is not how do we employ all the people who are rendered obsolete by technology, but how can we organize a society around something other than employment?’


Our problem is not that we don’t have enough stuff — it’s that we don’t have enough ways for people to work and prove that they deserve this stuff.’

But the deeper you dig around, the more questions that appear.

Without wishing to steer the debate in any particular direction, I will add some thoughts of my own…questions that I think give HR a vital role to play.

1)      In a recent survey (written up in the excellent Economist magazine’s Future of Work edition) 27% of US companies said that they don’t have the necessary talent to pursue their business plans.

In which case why not develop the business around the talent you have, or set about training/upskilling your current workforce to meet the challenges of your business plan. Why create a business plan that doesn’t take into account the current workforce that you have?

2)      If the future business models call for a more flexible workforce then how will this workforce be organised?

Currently most firms use staffing agencies but will they continue to pay hourly margins on an increasing number of temporary workers? Will internal recruiters manage a pool, or community, of flexible workers? Or will whole teams and departments be outsourced to ‘workforce providers’?

3)      How easily can people shift to flexible working when our economy, particularly personal finance, is based upon permanent employment, with monthly salary paid after tax, and contractual rights such as notice periods, sick pay and maternity?

How readily will banks, credit card companies and mortgage lenders accept irregular payments? Will flexible workers be able to put enough aside to cover periods without work? I’m not talking professional interims here but lower skilled, lesser paid workers.

4)      How will the future workforce be trained? What skills will they need?

We may need to re-define how we see ‘skills’. In particular read Felix Wetzel’s blog ‘The unskilled of today are the skilled of tomorrow’ and Gary Robinson’s ‘Digital talent : Riding the wave of change’. Want to hire a digital marketer…then hire someone who gets digital, not a marketer. How many companies are ready?

5)      Are employment laws about to get a shake up? What will the ‘red tape challenge’ uncover?

The ConnectingHR community are already on the case here! ‘Red Tape and Red Herrings’ from FlipChartRick and ‘How little are you worth? Pay, the economy and a living wage’ from Neil Morrison.

Anyone familiar with the ConnectingHR community will know that where the conversation goes next is all down to the attendees on the day…

… You need to be part of it! Sign up today!

See you there 🙂

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