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What Will the American Workplace of 2025 Look Like?

Photo: Courtesy of Nastuh Abootalebi

Predicting the future is not a science. It’s a series of educated, thoughtful guesses interpreted through past trends and a measure of common sense. And there are a lot of very intelligent people seeking to find out what’s coming down the road for the American workforce in 2025.

Human resources professionals who focus on employee rewards have a unique view of an organization, its staff, its mission and the strategic plans for its future. So it’s not unreasonable for those in our industry to offer their predictions about what the American workplace will look like in five or 10 years.

Individualism vs. collectivism

Several thoughtful studies have started the discussion. A recent PwC study described three worlds of work, which provide a lens through which to examine how organizations might operate in the future and understand the aspirations of the people who want to work for them. The idea of individualism versus collectivism is an important aspect of these findings because they represent not only future businesses, but also future workers. Their wants and needs will also be significantly different from what we see today.

Fostering diversity

Another study from Hay Group and Z Punkt described key megatrends that are impacting the business environment and corporate organizations. This study pointed to the need for more diversity, corporate social responsibility, and flexibility for employees who will be keenly aware of their global career options. The study also highlighted a need to manage dispersed individuals who are technically savvy and loyal more to themselves than their employer.

These are all important indicators to which organizations need to pay attention as they continue to strive to engage their key talent. When attempting to attract talent to an organization, it will be important that chief human resources officers and CEOs recognize the changing “human” in human capital. Their wants and desires will be paramount in understanding what a future 2025 employee might look like, and in turn the future value proposition exchange between employer and employee.

There is no doubt that each generation brings something new to the table in terms of their optimal employee value proposition. Employees will always look for cash, health care and retirement options, but what else will they want?

The power of flexibility

Today’s newest generations in the workforce are looking for purpose and flexibility in what they do, how they do it and where they do it. They also care a great deal about the community in which they work. Not only do studies show they want to impact their environment, but that the organizations for which they work are socially responsible.

The concept of career will continue to change over the next 10 years. Where a Generation X’er may or may not want to be associated with only one employer his or her entire career, Generations Y and Z may be more inclined to change entire careers two to five times during their lifetime. And employment for these younger generations doesn’t necessarily end in what boomers today view as retirement, but rather a later stage in life to be lived to its fullest. Keeping engagement high for long periods of time for these employees will be a challenge for employers who count on productive, long-term top talent.

Engagement is key

We are seeing these changes in total rewards programs when offering employees more work-life flexibility and well-being. The employer cultures that embrace this attitude as a way of doing business today see higher results in terms of employee engagement and satisfaction, and they experience lower turnover.

Regardless of what form jobs will take in 2022 or 2025, people will still be at the center of all these changes. Employees in our near future will be engaged in new business models through programs and initiatives that help them efficiently use new forms of business and technology. And human resources and total rewards professionals excel at managing and engaging people in the workplace.

Human resources and benefits professionals will use analytics and data to improve their strategic outlook and human capital utilization. Administrative and transactional functions in human resources will become secondary to assisting C-suite executives in finding the right balance of people, skills, compensation, benefits, work-life and development themes.

Engaging employees in the right way — however that phrase will be defined — will be our workplace future. It’s not too difficult to predict that what worked in the 1930s or 1990s workplace isn’t going to work in the American workforce of 2025.

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