What your workplace might look like in 2025

What will the office look like a decade from now? How will we spend our working days? Three experts at the 2016 Human Resources Professional Association Annual Conference & Trade Show explained how the economic crisis, population explosion and performance ratings affect the way we do business.

Education relevance

“2016 is a year of transition,” says Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist for CIBC World Markets Inc. “What was normal in the past is not normal in the context of today’s economy.”

Canada is the most educated country in the OECD, but it’s also the number one country within the OECD with citizens living in poverty. “We have a significant mismatch,” says Tal. “There are jobs without people and people without jobs.”

While immigration is part of the solution, Tal believes education plays an even larger part. “We must break the negative stigma associated with colleges. There’s nothing wrong with a BA in history and a degree in plumbing,” he says.

Employment equilibrium shift

Rising population, robots replacing jobs and an increasingly (global) mobile workforce is the perfect storm, and it leads to a fundamental shift in employment equilibrium, says Jerry Zhang, head of the HR consultancy firm Finchway Group.

Lots will change in the workplace over the next 10 years:
  • There will be too many people and too few jobs. [This prediction differs a bit from Tal’s statement.]
  • Entrepreneurialism will rise because talented individuals won’t want to work at someone else’s company.
  • As jobs fall away and split, workers will need to become more specialized.
  • Specialization will lead to outsourcing (of people, not countries, this time). “Outsourcing 3.0 is the freelancer — somebody in the comfort of a home who doesn’t hold down one specific job but holds down several jobs for several companies,” explains Zhang.
  • Organizations will need to become more adaptive, and everything will get quicker and be a lot more temporary.
  • Diversity will become an inevitability that we’ll adapt to.

Ratings obsolescence

“Giving ratings makes sense until you do it to humans,” says David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of the book Your Brain at Work.

Ratings cause huge problems for employee performance systems. “When you remove them, you can innovate,” explains Rock, author of the wildly popular article “Kill Your Performance Ratings.”

Microsoft and Gap are but a few of the companies that have dropped ratings over the past few years. “This is not a trend,” he says. “It’s a deep, deep movement with a lot of momentum.”

According to Rock, dropping ratings fosters a growth mindset for continual improvement, minimizes the threat to candid and honest conversations, and activates insight so people can grow and change.

The journey takes about 12 months, and an organization has to follow what’s meaningful in its culture. “Science combined with case studies can help you do this differently,” he says.

Note: Benjamin Tal’s keynote speech, Taking an Outside-in Perspective: Linking Economics to HR, was sponsored by CPA Canada.