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In a recent Forbes article about 2017 HR trends, author and futurist, Jeanne Meister, wrote about “the blended” workforce.
It’s an excellent article and I highly recommend it. (Ms. Meister is also the co-author of The 2020 Workplace which also well worth a read.)
Definitions Change Over Time
I reflected as I read her article on how the definition of blended workforce has changed over time. At various times a blended workforce has been the introduction of women into predominately all male workforces. At another time it referred to the integration of races, predominantly African-American, into the workforce. In both cases Personnel and later HR was told to be ready for this integration or “blending.” When millennials entering the workforce became a big issue, we started talking about a “blended” workforce composed of people of different ages and life experiences.
Today the “blending” Meister is talking about in her article is the types and varieties of jobs. She says:
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“The workforce of the future won’t be all full time employees. Rather, it will be blended, or composed of full time employees as well as consultants, contractors, freelancers, part time employees, and other contingent workers, collectively known as Gig Economy Workers.”
There will be many challenges in structuring this mix of workers. Will HR be the appropriate group to manage this or will this have to be a coordinated effort of HR, procurement and management? We also need to consider that some workers will not function well in a gig economy. Roles such as Data Scientists, Digital Marketers, Network Engineers, and Talent Acquisition Leads may not be a good fit for gigging, according to Meister.
Making a Blended Workforce Work
One of the major challenges HR will have with this blended workforce is how it will work together. HR will be challenged with determining how to train, who to train, what training is allowed by law and how is all this to be delivered in an effective manner.
One thing is for sure, this mix of full time, part time, contract and gigging workers will present a challenge to future HR professionals. Not to mention that the future workforce may start to include more “artificial” workers, complicating things even more for HR. Will managing the blend of workers have to take into consideration ethical considerations of robotic workers working side-by-side with human workers? Will consideration have to be given to humans who are having their jobs taken by robots?
Only time will tell how the blended workforce of the future will look, but it is certain that HR will be tasked with making it work.