Companies have been in a comfortable position—able to cherry-pick the best candidates from floods of applications. In Germany especially, demographic changes are set to turn everything on its head. The baby-boomer generation is beginning to retire from working life—in the mid-term, more than 20 million people are leaving the workplace. At the same time, there are only some 14 million coming to take their places. Generously estimated—and only as long as efforts to get more women and mothers into jobs succeed—we’re looking at a gap of at least two million in the workforce.
What does this mean for companies and their HR departments in the run up to 2030? In short, the future looks rosy for employees. At least if you believe the predictions of Sven Gábor Jánszky as presented in his book “2030 – Wie viel Mensch verträgt die Zukunft?” (How many people can the future hold?). For the Chairman of the German “2b AHEAD ThinkTank”, there are two different models: SMEs in locations outside of the large metropolises will develop into caring companies, because they will not succeed in attracting enough highly-qualified applicants to their locations, they will have to do whatever it takes to ensure employee loyalty. These “corporate life strategies” range from company kindergartens and care services to affordable rental apartments and a fully subsidised insurance package. It may seem quite altruistic at first, but it is actually a mathematical calculation, because the cost of finding new recruits in a cut-throat market compared to providing corporate life is far higher.
The direct opposite of these caring companies, according to Sven Gábor Jánszky, are fluid companies. These include most larger corporations with world-wide access to employees and customers. These employers are not interesting in winning over employees for the long term, but rather in attracting a targeted workforce and then getting rid of them again. The basis for this strategy is the assumption that 40% of those employed will be project workers in the future. These professional nomads change employers every three years, moving on to projects new. For employers this means that candidates no longer apply to a company—it’s the companies that apply to the employees. Fluid companies concentrate on being able to offer professionals the biggest personal challenges and potential for individual development,, because when deciding upon a new employer, a secure position and salary are no longer the deciding factors, but the purpose of the task and the excellence of the team. The highly respected “Fast Forward 2030” study by real estate service provider CBRE and Genesis referred to work of the future even as a sort of “customer experience”.
What is clear is that when the workforce becomes scarce, they will also have better opportunities to turn their expectations into reality. If you take the freedom that is arising as a result of technological advancements, it’s clear where it’s leading: mobile, flexible working will become the norm. Work will be done in a self-organised way and the employer will be responsible for health and satisfaction. Additionally, people will be assisted by robots, digital assistants, bots, and artificial intelligence. Algorithms will create perfect teams according to skill, age, culture, and gender and control their optimum workload.
But before you beam yourself into the next decade—Sven Gábor Jánszky put a little dampener on his readers’ enthusiasm, since in the working world of 2030, jobs will no longer be secure. On the contrary, the world of work and its requirements on individual professions has never changed so quickly. To keep up with this, and remain a step ahead where possible, poses considerable challenges to workers.
Sven Gábor Jánszky looks into his crystal ball in the year 2030 and beyond. A very different wind is blowing. Artificial intelligence will have taken over the majority of tasks and the need for workers will have drastically reduced. So let’s make the best of the here and now.