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What’s on the horizon? Implications for people management

Authors: The Work Foundation Dean Morley, Deputy HR Director, Pensions, Disability and Carers Service, Dep for Work and Pensions

14 July 2010

On Tuesday 13 June, The Work Foundation held a workshop for their network of partners looking at the drivers shaping the employment relationship over the next ten years, following the launch of the third report, The Deal in 2020, from the Future of HR programme. I was pleased to be asked to co-present with Dr Wilson Wong at what was an extremely well attended event demonstrating the high interest in this subject. 

The session kicked off with a thought provoking YouTube clip – Did You Know? – which provided a reminder of the speed in which information now reaches us all and how quickly skills and knowledge become obsolete. It’s also all too easy to forget that the likes of Google, Facebook and the iPhone didn’t always exist and to imagine what new methods of communication we will have in the future.

The participants heard from Wilson on the key drivers that will impact the employment relationship as discussed in The Deal in 2020 report: education and skills; environment; technology; labour market; social inequalities; globalisation; economic development. Linking these to different possible future scenarios enables leaders to think about the implication for people management.

I was able to explain how the Department for Work and Pensions had used the research to review and invigorate our People Strategy in a very practical session with our Non-Executive Board and Executive Management Team. The Delphi research content and process helped the participants to identify the specific drivers shaping the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service. We were challenged by the need to be mindful of the external environment and what it might be like in the year 2020. By taking the long-view, we managed to identify a number of people management issues that needed to be addressed immediately and in the next few years. We were able to see the value of knowing what to monitor and the triggers for responding to certain changes that we could envisage. So often it is difficult to look beyond the next twelve months so having the opportunity to take place a frame to the future and understanding how a longer time horizon can affect the operational now was hugely valuable.

The second half of the session saw the participants on the day having the chance to experience the approach themselves, albeit very briefly, and this provoked some very interesting insights and ideas from all sectors represented. Globalisation and technology were seen as having a huge impact over the coming years, with issues such as an ageing workforce, social inequality, the increasing pace of change, how to motivate the workforce being cited as areas of concern.

Plenty of food for thought for this group as we navigated through the future of work.

Comments in Chronological Order (Total 3 Comments)

Kevin Jones

14 Jul 2010 5:23PM

I was a first-time delegate at yesterday's event and found it a fascinating use of two hours, looking to future likely scenarios that will face HR in ten years time with time to begin emergent thinking on how I might seek to mitigate each in my own (public sector) environment. No conclusive answers as we speak, but at least I have formed views on what the main issues are likely to be, so my horizon scanning antenna have been activated, for which many thanks. Only time will tell if we should have considered a coalition scenario more carefully...

wilson wong

15 Jul 2010 11:19AM

Kevin, I'm glad you found the session stimulating. A big thank you to everyone for being so sporting. Everyone had a taste of the process which aims to take participants beyond 'what is' to begin the conversation of 'what could/ should be' (I'm quoting Miller here). It isn't always easy and as Dean said, it does take awhile to adjust to a different time horizon! As for horizon scanning, that's another futures methodogy - a useful one if the aim is to identify near term risk.

It'd be great to see what else others got from the morning session.

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