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4 Global Workforce Trends

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Let's start with the trend at the top of every company’s task list – how to make the workplace safe.  

COVID-19 has impacted the workplace as much as the rest of our lives. People eager for the “new normal” to arrive, expect a safe workplace to be a part of that. Over a third of the workforce hasn’t been able to work from home. Of those who are working from home, only six percent want to do so permanently.   

Thus, as vaccination continues and workplaces can start to open up, most people will be going back. Yet, employers are going to have to get new, updated workplace safety protocols into place. People want to get out of the house and get back to work – but they don’t want to risk their health to do so.  

Take away:  Start addressing where your workplace will need to make safety adjustments now, if you haven’t already. Opt for the safety protocols that will be most effective without greatly disrupting operations. The greater the disruption, the less likely the compliance level will be sufficient. Instead, incorporate tools and workflows that require little to no training to use. Our Swipe and Go time-clock addon is one example. It turns any ATS time clock into a contactless experience, minimizing the transmission risk at the time clock. 

Yet these challenging trends persist - and the talent shortage is having negative impact on business. The "Global Workforce Trends 2018," from Allegis Group, found that 65% of companies had to adjust business strategies because their workforce lacked the right skills to execute the strategy.  

If you want to address the combined challenge of recruiting and retaining needed skills across a global workforce, you need to face up to these other four workforce trends.


1. Generational challenges continue to grow. 

The oldest among Generation Z have entered the workforce and they are not Millennial 2.0.  Gen Z brings its own set of values, temperaments, and challenges. This means there are now four generations all working together, from Baby Boomers down to Gen Z. Despite millennials making up the largest cohort, the global workforce is actually getting older. In the United States, millennials are 35% of the workforce, but Gen X plus Baby Boomers make up 58 percent. Sixteen percent of Europe's workforce is over the age 55 and that percentage is growing.

Why? People are living longer and they're working longer. Companies want to hold on to their older workers to keep the skills they aren't seeing yet in younger employees.

Take away: Don't overlook the value of older workers, but you can't overlook developing younger talent, either. HR and managers need to understand the wildly divergent priorities and workplace norms of all these generations.


2. Growing local control with global organizations. 

One issue that unites workers across generations and geography is the desire for a more realistic work/life balance. Achieving this balance often means having flexible workplaces and work arrangements. These days, companies not only need to figure out how to incorporate gig workers successfully into their hiring and staffing models, but they need to do the same for remote workers while optimizing the productivity of remote teams located all over the world. These trends have been apparent for a few years now.

However, to achieve these programs and give workers the flexibility and autonomy they crave, authority for managing and developing employees will start delegating down to the local level.  This manifests as empowering managers to implement flexible scheduling that reflects local culture preferences. It may also mean local HR staff fostering direct, personal relationships with workers to provide highly personalized support.

Take away: While power and decision-making authority may be delegated to the local level, the global organization still needs to set the standards and expectations that guide localized HR and personnel management. It also needs to guard against creating HR silos. Strategic use of digital workforce management tools and systems creates a virtual centralized workspace where HR, finance, and line managers can work together to optimize the full scope of the organization's talent.


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3. Increase in work localities means increasingly complex labor compliance burdens.

With the rise of remote workers and globalization of the workforce, more HR, payroll and legal departments have a heavier burden to ensure the global organization is complying with all local labor laws. Even for U.S.-only companies, having a multi-state workforce triggers a wide array of payroll, benefits, and labor laws. Within a single jurisdiction, legal compliance is a constant challenge that demands use of digital tools. Automated payroll and scheduling tools incorporate business rules that reflect current-state legal requirements and get updated by the system vendor as those laws inevitably change. Automated time and attendance systems and employee time clocks  ensure accurate, verifiable records that form the foundation of any effective compliance program.

Take away: HR legal compliance is a critical area where standards, processes, and tools are defined globally across an organization, but implementation is highly local. Using a common suite of workforce technology throughout the organization provides localities with the flexibility they need while also giving top-level management necessary global oversight.


4. Employers push boundaries in employee monitoring.

Technology has brought amazing opportunities for HR departments and line managers to improve operations and the employee experience. One of the next iterations of technology will be the ways employers use it to monitor and track employees. 

One goal of monitoring workers with technology is to maximize productivity and stymie worker time theft. Such tools includes applications that record everything workers do on their computers; increased use of video and audio surveillance in the workplace; and gps tracking through mobile devices or vehicles, or RFID tracking via access badge to monitor employee location, which may even entail implanting trackers on employees. Wearables, including implants, are also being used by employers to monitor employee health as part of company wellness programs. 

Take away: Run all the discussions regarding how and when to monitor employees through the cost-benefit analysis of the expected operational and financial advantages against the type of employee experience it creates. There's no one answer. As the technology changes and law begins to catch-up with these issues, the calculations every organization has to make with change as well.

Take all four of these global workforce trends seriously. How your organization approaches them will directly impact how it fares in the global competition for the best talent.


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Last updated on: March 24, 2021

Biometric Usage: Growing concerns over the privacy and security of biometrics are driving government regulations surrounding the definition of personal data and how to protect it. These regulations vary from country to country, state-to-state, and in some cases city by city. Most often the governing regulations are dictated based on the location where the information is being collected. It is important to understand the local regulations in the geographic areas in which you operate. If you are uncertain regarding your regulatory obligations, we encourage you to consult with your legal counsel.