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The high and continually rising cost of health care has become the issue that will have the biggest impact on the
workplace in the coming years, according to the biennial Workplace Forecast survey. The survey of 1,485 HR
professionals was released in April by the Society for Human Resource Management.
For almost a decade, the survey has asked HR professionals which trends they think will have the biggest influence
in the workplace and on the HR profession in the next five years. As in past years, HR professionals ranked
recurring trends near the top of the list.
For example, this year, as well as in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, HR professionals identified health care costs as
No. 1. Other top trends respondents identified in the latest survey include:
The implementation of health care legislation.A shortage of skilled workers.A large number of Baby Boomers retiring at the same time.The implications of the 2012 presidential and congressional election outcomes.The small number of science, technology, engineering and math graduates in the U.S. compared with other countries.A decline in employees’ retirement savings.The rise in fuel prices in the U.S. and globally.A threat of a dip back into the U.S. recession.Greater economic uncertainty and market volatility.
Many of these trends relate to themes HR professionals identified in previous years, namely:
A more competitive global business landscape and the rise of emerging economies.The aging of the workforce and Baby Boomer retirement.Problems finding skilled workers.Economic uncertainty and volatility.A more complex legal environment and changes to laws influencing employee rights and legal compliance by employers.The impact of information and communications technologies.A greater demand for work/life balance.
Beginning at the end of 2007, the Great Recession led HR professionals in past years to focus on economic issues,
such as market volatility, an uncertain business climate, high unemployment and global competitiveness.
Those polled expect that these issues will continue to have a significant influence in the workplace in the next
five years. These trends will challenge HR professionals to adapt and to keep their organizations’ people
strategies current and innovative. The uncertain economic environment, in particular, may heighten an
organization’s need to become an employer of choice, to develop future leaders and to remain competitive in the
The author is manager of the Workplace Trends and Forecasting program at SHRM.
SHRM webpage:Workplace Trends ReportsSHRM resource:
We Know Next
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