Workplace predictions for 2002


As the slow economy continues and Americans recover from the impact of September 11th, Drake Beam Morin (DBM) see much change and challenge ahead for U.S. employers, workers and job seekers alike. DBM surveyed its US consultants earlier this month to understand what they expect to be different about the workplace in the coming year.

The following workplace scenarios are expected:

Family matters … job seekers to shift priorities. In a post-September 11th era, job seekers and workers will continue to place higher value on working fewer hours to spend more time with family and friends.

Arrangements such as part-time, flex-time, family leave and telecommuting will become more prevalent in 2002, as will more socially conscious types of positions, such as working for non-profit, charitable organizations. DBM also sees quite a few of its career transition clients showing less willingness to travel or relocate away from family and friends.

Companies will be more open to accommodating workers’ preferences and needs. Although many continue to lay workers off, they know it’s only a matter of time before the economy rebounds and retention will become a major challenge for them again, as it was during the boom of 1999/2000. DBM expects to see more companies appointing a “Director or Manager of Retention” in 2002 to help re-build employee loyalty after this time of cutbacks.

There will also be more choices in terms of transferable skills. In today’s competitive labour market, job seekers will be doing more to market themselves to a wider range of industries. Encouragingly, DBM reports one in two job seekers to change industry or job function successfully. Some executives are accepting unpaid internships and/or interim assignments with companies in different industries, simply to gain new and marketable experience. Job seekers will also be open to developing new skills as a means of avoiding relocation. Those wishing to stay closer to family are realizing they need to increase their skill-base in order to be eligible for a broader number of job openings near their homes.

September 11th and the slow economy have prompted hiring managers to stay close to home in filling positions. As they spend less on employing recruiters and advertising, networking will become their primary means of identifying candidates; in fact, 90 percent say they prefer to find candidates within their own companies or through networking. DBM believe that people seem to have a greater need to connect with each other since the New York tragedy. As a result, an increase in networking and face-to-face meetings is expected in 2002.

Finally, with companies cutting so deeply, the playing field between older workers and Gen Xers is more level now than ever. Older workers are demonstrating much needed experience and greater flexibility, giving them an edge in a competitive market. A recent DBM study indicates that while the majority of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers aim for full time work in their job searches, workers over age 55 generally seek more flexible work arrangements such as part time positions, self-employment and consulting work.