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The Evolution of Labor Needs Strong HR Leadership

Message from the President

If I had to pick one word to describe the workforce today, it would be evolving. As the saying goes, change is the only constant in life. Today, we stand on the brink of a new era in the labor landscape, with a world of variables to consider as we make key decisions on behalf of our organizations. One thing is sure: The old rules that once guided us are no longer sufficient to navigate the complexities of today’s world of work.

For starters, advances in technology have made us all more connected than we’ve ever been. We’re able to collaborate with team members around the world, as well as recruit the best and brightest talent from anywhere on the globe. This gives HR and talent acquisition professionals greater recruitment opportunities, and likewise, it offers employees the ability to market themselves globally. But it also requires a greater depth of skill and strategy from our talent acquisition experts as they expand the reach of their searches.

Perhaps the most impactful technology right now is the one we’re all talking about: generative AI. Its advancement and adoption will indiscriminately change the world of work as we know it, and we’re just starting to pull back the curtain on the possibilities this revolutionary technology brings. We can only imagine what is to come. But as leaders, we must position ourselves on the front line of adoption and start incorporating new technologies into our everyday work. It’s our responsibility to prepare our employees for the future so they don’t come up short in the high-tech world we’re entering. To do so requires upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling our employees now, so they’re prepared for the future.

If all that weren’t enough, add today’s unique workforce demographics into the equation. We’re seeing an unprecedented six generations in the workforce, each with its own needs, wants, and key motivators. Gone are the days where we can afford to have one-size-fits-all employee engagement efforts and communication tactics.

One look at the declining U.S. birthrate and resulting shrinking workforce tells us that we will need all six generations to actively participate in the world of work—and to be productive and engaged. The only way to get there is to understand the needs of each generation and tailor our policies to them directly, while also getting to know each employee as an individual. This will require creativity and new ideas, but it will be well worth it.

There are simply more ways of doing this thing we call work. More options. More opportunities. But more risks as well—more ways to experiment, and more ways to fail. You see, we’re in new territory. We can no longer do work the same way we’ve done it for the last 30 years and expect to succeed. Change is inevitable. It’s already upon us, and we must be ready. We must be willing to take calculated risks, with strong, forward-thinking leaders at the helm, ready to guide our employees as a steady beacon of light through any storm.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP
President and CEO, SHRM