Future Friday: Shifting Megatrends and how they will affect the workplace


Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLP also known as PwC just released a new paper discussing five megatrends they have identified. These five megatrends are discussed in their paper in terms of how they will affect global defense and security. I am going to discuss two of these megatrends in terms of how they will affect the workplace in the U.S.

The Megatrends

The five megatrends identified by PwC include:

1.      A shift in global economic power

2.      Demographic shifts

3.      Accelerating urbanization

4.      The rise of technology

5.      Climate change and resource scarcity

PwC discusses these in terms of the potential disruption they will have on the defense and security of countries around the world. For example, in the demographic megatrend on of the destabilizing forces will be the increase in the numbers of young men in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa who have limited economic opportunities and limited educational opportunities, thus making them susceptible to radicalization. That could lead to increased terrorism and even government overthrow.

Two Megatrends in particular

The two megatrends in this list that I want to discuss on this list are the demographic shifts and rising technology. While all of these megatrends have the possibility to affect the workplace in the US, or even the world, these two have more immediate impact that I think HR needs to be aware of.

Demographic shift

According to the study the number of Americans over the age of 65 will double to 72.1 million by 2030. Because of changes in lifestyle and medical advancements many of the members of this group will not be interested in retiring. I have written about this many times, in Future Friday: The vision of retirement is already changing, for example. PwC foresees this will put pressure on companies and government to create jobs to keep this aging population employed. I believe that companies will have to work hard to overcome age discrimination issues in the workplace as the swell of older workers continues.

The workplace will also be affected by increased medical technology that will keep older workers capable of working longer. Body part replacement and advance healing techniques which will allow workers to overcome disabilities attributed to age. Thus the HR challenges will include proper accommodation in addition to creation of jobs and controlling discrimination.

Training will also be an issue with aging workers. Keeping those populations up to date on technology will also be important. PwC says that CEO’s are concerned about skill gaps that could affect growth prospects. If your employee population is an older one, that will become a challenge. According to PwC some countries with very aging populations will have to supplement their workforce with immigrant workers. The US will also have to be aware of this.

The rise of technology

PwC points out several areas about technology that are relevant to the workplace. First, increased technology will increase flexibility. We have already seen that with the increase in telecommuting. But there is also the concept of virtual business supplanting physical locations on a more permanent basis. The challenges for HR are increased with a distributed workforce rather than having employees in one physical location. At the same time it also reduces the need for HR staff since technology, i.e., self-service and shared files, take the workload from staff.

Additionally PwC says:

The ability to gather and analyze data in real time may become a requirement for doing business, rather than a competitive advantage.

The ability to collect, analyze and predict from data collect on employees will be an absolutely necessity. Future positions in HR will include HR data specialists. The challenge for HR will be to attract and retain people with data analysis skills to the HR department.

The rise of technology is going to have a tremendous impact on the workplace and the HR department. I really cannot even begin to cover it in this blog. Many of my past Future Friday posts have discussed that so if you are interested browse through them.


Originally published on Omega HR Solutions blog.


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