What's in store for 2003?

Given the past two years, I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to what's coming down the pike businesswise next year, I'm just hoping it's good. However, authors and "strategic business futurists" Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia are braver than I. They recently released their "Top Ten Forecasts: Workforce and Workplace: 2003," and I thought I'd share some of their more interesting predictions as we close out our final Management Strategies newsletter of 2002.

  • Herman and Gioia's top pick: "As the economy picks up, employers will face the most severe shortage of skilled labor in history. Unprecedented churning in the labor marketplace will begin by midyear." As a manager, I say "Oh, no!" but as an employee, I say, "Yay!" First, this means the economy picks up.

    Super. Second, it means our friends and former colleagues who were casualties of the past two years are headed for solid employment. This is good news.

  • "As the economy picks up, employers who have treated employees badly during the tight economy will be in serious trouble. More workers will leave, laid-off employees won't return, and fewer applicants will choose to work there." Boy, did we devote a lot of time to this topic, this year. Many of the management and leadership experts who graced this newsletter this year said the exact same thing: In a bad economy, you have to treat your employees just as well as you did in a good one. Those of us who didn't heed this warning, will see it come back and bite us in the, um, assets in 2003.

  • "Corporate training and education will accelerate to accommodate new employees and the redevelopment of existing staff. The demand for vocational education will begin to grow as people realize the increasing need - and income - for skilled workers." This would be such a welcome sight, given the state of many of our training budgets over the past two years.

  • "Reemphasis on telecommuting will inspire substantial changes in where and how companies do business. Space allocation and management styles will shift to accommodate this flexibility."

    Given the collective newfound desire to scrimp and save over the past couple of years, telecommuting has gotten a lot of press. Technology advances make it easier than ever to work from home and many companies that launched telework programs are seeing increases in employee morale and productiveness, not to mention savings in office space.

  • "Employers will be more selective in hiring. Culture 'fit' will become as important as skills, experience, and attitude."

    The cultural aspect of hiring is the most difficult. A resume clearly lists a person's qualifications and experience, but your only exposure to their personality is the interview - or a series of interviews. Yet, even after that, we're still left mostly with our gut instinct when it comes to how a person will fit in with your team. This prediction is valid, as fit is just as important as any other aspect of a candidate. Yet evaluating it and making a hiring decision still remains more instinct than science.

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