The workplace is evolving at lightning speed, due to the impact of several factors, including a rapidly and continuously shifting technological landscape and the growth of globalization. Meanwhile, an aging Baby Boomer workforce means that by 2020, one out of four workers is projected to be over the age of 55. As Boomers retire, Generation X—a substantially smaller generation—will have many shoes to fill, creating a potential talent shortage.
Exploring this unfolding scenario and offering a comprehensive look at the potential workplace landscapes that could manifest—and some future-forward insights and tips for managers of today and tomorrow—the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) recently launched its inaugural 2019 Future of Work Report.
“Three meta-themes frame the report’s findings,” said Dr. Melissa Dodd, APR, the report’s author and associate professor and assistant director of academic programs at the University of Central Florida, in a news release. “The themes include the future of work in a global, technology-driven reality, reaching a diversifying workforce, and investing in employees for the future of work.”
IPR interviewed 25 executives responsible for organizational/internal communication to determine how they are strategizing around this new reality. While some technological innovations have already made a significant impact on organizations, the future of work is more than just artificial intelligence and automation. The intent of this project was to investigate the three interlinked dimensions of an organization: the work (the what), the workforce (the who), and the workplace (the where). Each offers unique challenges and opportunities for organizational (internal) communication.
“The 2019 Future of Work Reportuncovers three key insights for internal communications: the new shape of performance, the importance of culture, and the need for relevance in content and relationship building,” said Gary Grates, principal of W2O Group and chair of the IPR Organizational Communications Research Center, in the release. “Seeing how professionals are gearing up for a different model of work is both fascinating and challenging.”
The study arose from a need to understand current and continuous forces of change impacting organizational operations and communication. The research focuses on the disruptions in the workforce, how organizations are dealing with those changes, and how organizations are communicating to a diverse and evolving workforce.
“Our industry needs to be better prepared to anticipate the needs of the future workforce and we’re not there yet,” said Dr. Tina McCorkindale, president and CEO of IPR, in the release. “Some of the findings indicate we need to think more about the impact of the gig economy and how companies need to update their internal communication systems.”