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HR will have a pivotal role in the economy of the future

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By 2020, effective HR strategies will be more crucial to business than ever before, according to a new report.

The report the first in the Visions of Britain 2020 series from Friends Provident found an emerging polarised workforce coupled with the decline of foreign workers in the workplace will give rise to an ‘elite worker'- employees in technical, professional and managerial roles. These elite workers will place new demands and expectations on employers.  

According to the report this elite worker will be increasingly valued and sought after by companies, becoming integral to the success of a business. More than eight out of 10 (83%) of the experts surveyed agreed HR will have to become more strategic to attract and retain this workforce who will be vital to the future performance of businesses.  

Higher salaries and benefits will not be enough to satisfy the elite worker. Organisations in 2020 will have to make jobs more fulfilling in order to keep them engaged as the report found that enjoying the job (48%) and job satisfaction (38%) are more important to workers than salary (30%).

HR will therefore need to play a pivotal role in supporting management and helping businesses to create working environments that foster satisfaction and stimulation in the workplace throughout an employee's working life.

Greater investment in the workforce will also be expected by elite workers and one way companies can look to achieve this is through training. The report shows that in 2020, businesses will need to offer tailored and comprehensive training and development interventions to elite workers, providing them with an opportunity to continuously up skill and develop.

There will be high expectations of elite workers. With the increased investment in workers by businesses, management will want to ensure and measure a high level of productivity from their employees.

The report claims in 2020 HR will be required to be more rigorous about implementing systems that monitor employee output, which will be vital as we move towards a knowledge economy. Processes that enable employers to specifically calculate a worker's efficiency and value to their place of work will become commonplace. Central to the success of this will be clearly defined and communicated objectives at the outset.

Gillian Fox, HR director at Friends Provident, said: "By 2020, the balance of power between employees and employers will have shifted in favour of elite workers. This means employers will require more robust and rigorous HR strategies to shape the future success of the business.  Only by fostering a culture that truly allows talented employees to prosper will employers be able to attract, recruit and more importantly retain this powerful band of employees."


The evidence suggests in 2020, elite workers are likely to be attracted to companies that offer high quality training. The report shows that whilst there is a demand by employees for increased training, this is currently not being met by employers because of cost.

Fox added: "Our research shows increased training demands are not currently being met by employers but the reason behind this is not solely cost. It is more about rigorous training needs analysis being carried out and therefore budget being allocated accordingly.  In the future HR will have to support businesses and help them become more rigorous about effective training needs analysis to ensure training is tailored according to employee needs."

Michael Jenkins, CEO, Roffey Park Management School added: "If you think of the three P's: Promotion, Pay and Personal Development, in terms of importance [in 2020] I think it would be personal development, followed by pay, followed by promotion.  I think that personal development will be a very important piece."

Last year HR magazine carried out an exclusive study investigating how the head office of the future might look. Click here to read the key findings.