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Human Resources: Facts & Trends

Dramatic Increase in Workforce Diversity
The Workforce 2020 Report from the Hudson Institute indicates that by 2020 the U.S. workforce will be 6% Asian, 14% Latino, 11% black and 68% non-Latino white (down from 76% today). Key additional trends in the workforce include increasing participation of women in jobs that have historically been predominantly male, increasing telecommuting, and the aging of the workforce.

Employment Flexibility Increasing
Companies are utilizing part-time work, outsourcing, contract-leased based employees, flexible work schedules, computer networking, faxing etc. allowing employees to live far away from work. We live in the era of CraigsList contracting where talented information workers pick up "gigs".

Baby Boomer Angst
Baby boomers are expected to start retiring in big numbers in 2010 and 2011. But given the effects of the recession that began in 2007, many will be sticking around a while longer. According to a recent article on Workforce.com: "[this] will give organizations more time to avoid a brain drain and tap into older workers’ accumulated wisdom before they head off to retirement."

Stable Career Area
Employment personnel, training, and labor relations specialists and managers held about 900,000 jobs in the United States in 2009. They were employed in vitually every industry. The private sector accounted for about 85 percent of salaried jobs.

The Maze of Rules in Dispute Resolution
Dispute resolution also has become more complex, involving employees, management, unions, other firms, & government agencies. Specialists involved in dispute resolution must be highly knowledgeable and experienced, and often report to the director of industrial relations.

Change Management is the Hidden Job of HR
The Personnel Journal interviewed 100 human resources (HR) executives at the US largest companies. More than 70% of those surveyed say that their top issue is managing change. For example, on the technology front, in the span of only the last decade or so HR managers have had to adapt to workers routinely accessing their computers from home, faxing messages and contracts to clients, closing deals on cell phones, text-messaging on portable devices, and so on.

Jump on the Good Benefits Bandwagon
The number and type of benefits offered to employees is growing rapidly. In addition to health insurance and pension coverage, some firms offer their employees life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, disability insurance, and fairly new benefits designed to meet the needs of a changing work force, such as parental leave, child care and elder care, long-term nursing home care insurance, employee assistance & wellness programs, & flexible benefits plans in which employees have the option of receiving cash instead of benefits. (But on the topic of change, several of these--most notably health insurance--can require sudden changes due to prospective government policy shifts.)

Training Programs Experiencing Massive Growth
Training is widely accepted as a way of improving employee morale, but this is only one of the reasons for its fast growing importance. Other factors include the complexity of the work environment, the rapid pace of organizational & technological change, and the growing number of jobs in fields that constantly generate new knowledge. In addition, advances in learning theory have provided insights into how adults learn and how training can be organized most effectively for adults.

Cubicle Life on the Rise
According to Workforce.com: "In the coming years, most cubicle-dwelling employees probably won’t have a room--or a door--of their own. There is an office movement toward more shared work space coupled with private desk areas, especially in creative industries..."

Huge Growth in Outsourcing
Many companies are increasingly outsourcing human resource functions to companies like ADP, Exult and Black Mountain. U.S. companies spent more than $100 billion on HR outsourcing services in 2008. This doesn't mean the HR function is going away, but it does mean that parts of it are relocating, and successful HR professionals will need to adapt by learning how to work with (or for) these outsourcing companies.

Unions Shrinking
Union membership has been steadily declining. The decline in U.S. manufacturing cost union members 1.5 million jobs in the 1990s. Their role is changing form adversarial to cooperative. The scope of the labor relations HR job is changing along with it.

Huge Growth in Training
Training and development is now a $100 billion dollar business. Rapidly advanced technology, education, training and retraining increasing in importance.

Regulatory Burdens Growing
State and local government regulation and federal legislation are constantly evolving, and HR professionals must keep current on all of the rule changes that may affect their organization. EEO, family leave, disability, affirmative action, diversity, environmental, OSHA, minimum wage, health care, etc.
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