I have never read a romance novel because I’m fairly sure I won’t like it, and I can see plenty of heaving bosoms at soccer any old time. Until recently, I had never read a human resources book, on the general assumption that it would have to do with team-building exercises, being nice to the legal department and why pepper spray is an inappropriate Secret Santa gift (for the record, the lady who won it, lives in a rough neighbourhood, and said I saved her a trip to Buffalo).
But I’m kind of a fan of free things, especially books, so at a recent conference I picked up The 2020 Workplace How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd. Here is what I think: sometimes B2B marketers can benefit from reading stuff about HR, especially when it’s about the future workplace, which is, after all, where we sell stuff.
In the next seven years, I am disappointed to note, there will be no flying cars at work, the coffee machine will not have been cleaned, and someone will still be stealing yogurt from the fridge. But it seems a safe bet that we’ll also have our friends in the P-Cube, the F-Word and the G-Spot, though the people in those places will be younger and will work from home while they make regrettable clothing choices.
If you are pressed for time, skip to Section Three. That’s where the juicy marketing stuff is. The first two parts don’t turn up much that’s new. Changing demographics is old news, as are globalization, the knowledge economy, social recruiting, the digital workplace, mobile anything, connectivity, communities, social learning, corporate social responsibility and tooth decay (I may have added tooth decay).
There’s a bit on the über-connected organization that’s not bad, and the authors recommend we all start building it now. They correctly recognize that process and not technology will be the hurdle to overcome on that one. And if that’s not enough, poor old HR is going to have to figure out social learning, user-generated content, social platforms and the Millennials’ obsession with constant education.
Part Three, with its twenty predictions for the 2020 workplace is something I could cheerfully digest in a much longer form. Here they are:
- You will be hired and promoted based on your reputation capital
- Your mobile device will become your office, your classroom, and your concierge (well that ship has kind of sailed)
- The global talent shortage will be acute (and they’re not talking baton twirling here)
- Recruiting will start on social networking sites (I think that’s well underway)
- Web commuters will force corporate offices to reinvent themselves (I rather suspect offices won’t reinvent anything, but there’s hope for the yogurt)
- Companies will hire entire teams
- Job requirements for CEOs will include blogging (it will not be a coincidence that there will be an acute shortage of talented ghost bloggers)
- The corporate curriculum will use video games, simulations, and alternate reality games as key delivery modes (anything that gets me out of breakout sessions is more than welcome)
- A 2020 mind-set will be required to thrive in a networked world
- Human resources’ focus will move from outsourcing to crowdsourcing
- Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies
- You will elect your leader (not as Lord-of-the-Flies as it sounds)
- Lifelong learning will be a business requirement
- Work-life flexibility will replace work-life balance (stop rolling your eyes; it’s still an HR book)
- Companies will disclose their corporate social responsibility programs to attract and retain employees
- Diversity will be a business issue rather than a human resource issue
- The lines among marketing, communications and learning will blur (we’ll come back to this one)
- Corporate app stores will offer ways to manage work and personal life better
- Social media literacy will be required for all employees
- Building a portfolio of contract jobs will be the path to obtaining permanent full-time employment (which kind of kicks Free Agent Nation to the curb)
Let’s go back to #17. I’m sure we’re all relieved there will still be marketing departments in seven years, but it seems the Learning Department will be our new bestie as they try to figure out how to make all that terrible product training something marketable outside the company. Sony does this now with its Backstage 101 site offering courses, tutorials and so forth to consumers of its computers and imaging products. It sounds a little icky, but if we accept that content is a big differentiator, then it makes all kinds of sense to raid the internal knowledge bank first for some Grade A proprietary info.
“Look for more partnerships among heads of human resources, corporate learning officers, and chief marketing officers as corporate training programs are reimagined as consumer education online offerings and become part of the marketing/communications mix to increase market share and consumer satisfaction.”
This is a well-written book with a nice pace to it. There are plenty of examples throughout, demonstrating that seven years is not so far away and the clock is ticking on all this stuff. Each chapter has a helpful summary at the end, and the final bit of the book offers concrete advice for HR pros to get started on their 2020 readiness.
Bottom Line: If you sell to the HR department or the C-suite, this book will help you understand some of the key trends you, and they, need to get in front of.
Coming Soon to a P-Cube Near You
Marketing to the F-Word Part 2
BizMarketer is Elizabeth Williams
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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