2015: Marty McFly Back to the Future www.zenithtalent.com/recruiting-and-staffing-blog/2015-future-of-the-workforce-marketplace @zenithtalentPart 1 of 2 in a series

It’s 2015. What now?

It’s official, the new year has dawned. And many people, particularly business leaders, are probably asking themselves, “Now what?” The conversations, of course, inevitably draw attention back to economic issues, whether they involve product and service innovations, advances technology or new ways of marketing and selling. Yet at the core, nothing is accomplished without a keen focus on labor. The nature and composition of the workforce changed dramatically between 2009 and 2014, and it will continue to evolve, as we illustrate in our eBook “The Future of Talent in the Contingent Workforce.”

As companies organize their plans and shape their goals for 2015, employment issues will remain at the forefront: how to attract needed talent, how to retain top performers, how to optimize the workforce, how to fill leadership roles as aging workers depart, and more. We can certainly base near-term predictions for staffing and recruiting trends on existing benchmarks — like the importance of developing employment and talent brands, continuing to utilize social media campaigns, enhancing the candidate experience, engaging hiring managers, cultivating broader talent pipelines, focusing on more effective onboarding strategies, taking metrics seriously, and adopting a more global stance on acquisition.

We can do that, or we can climb inside a metaphorical, time-traveling Delorean and go back to the future. After all, 2015 is the year in the second “Back to the Future” film where we catch a glimpse of protagonist Marty McFly’s possible future — one rife with career concerns and sculpted by pioneering sci-fi achievements that have become everyday realities.

Back to the future

Given the popularity of the film franchise, and that the second outing took place largely in 2015, a lot of tongue-in-cheek discussions have arisen in the mainstream media about where the screenwriting speculators missed the mark. And yet, the forward-looking fantasy didn’t get everything wrong. We really have developed flying cars, prototype hoverboards that operate on magnetic field architecture, virtual reality simulations, biometrics for personal use, and the omnipresence of video games.

However accurate or inaccurate the predictions of the filmmakers were, they suggest a deeper theme within all science fiction, one we may easily miss beneath the action and melodrama: the trappings of these tales and the technological revolutions they foretell are the drivers that influence all the other aspects of our lives. From the loom to the lathe to the lithium battery, innovations in engineering, science and mechanics have guided how we live, how we work and the work we do. So let’s look at some of the futuristic fantasies that became realities in 2014 (courtesy of the brilliant team at io9) and how they can reveal the trends in talent acquisition we’ll witness over the coming year.

Technologically-assisted telepathy successfully demonstrated in humans

For the first time in history, two people exchanged thoughts through a surprisingly non-invasive mind-to-mind connection, enabled by an Internet-linked electroencephalogram (EEG) and robotic, image-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technologies. The international research team behind the experiment got two subjects — one in India and one in France — to convey telepathically the words “hola” and “ciao” to one another through the system.

The project underscores society’s growing reliance on globally networked communications. Think of it as the ultimate social media. And while recruiters aren’t going to be chatting with candidates through mental projections (in 2015, anyway), the importance of social networks in talent acquisition can’t be understated. Savvy recruiters understand that today they need to be targeting their communications to the virtual spaces where passive and active candidates congregate. More importantly, they need to use those channels to engage prospective talent. The recently published High Impact Talent Acquisition (HITA) industry study, conducted by Bersin by Deloitte, found that “mature TA functions are five times more likely to have an effective social media campaign.”

Seventy-nine percent of recruiters, according to Jobvite, found their hires through LinkedIn. About 94 percent of recruiters use the site as a primary sourcing tool. Following that is Facebook, which 66 percent of recruiters are using. Social media continue to expand as the most effective platforms for locating top talent, in terms of quantity and quality. Communications, however, don’t stop at reaching and engaging candidates. The focus on pushing communication technologies to new heights will underscore every other trend in the coming year, especially as the power of crowdsourcing gathers more strength.

Crowdsourcing, in its current iteration, is being used by companies to tackle research and development stagnation, solve business issues and design new digital or physical assets. Every day, businesses find new ways to tap into the knowledge and skills of the crowd. The movement has spawned more niche service providers, the emergence of crowdsourced integrators, greater reliance on mobile applications, and bundled business models. In the staffing industry, the crowd will also begin to rise as an exciting new source of recruiters and talent.

The workforce marketplace is evolving. The changes are precipitated by a number of factors including an increase in demand for contingent workers, globalization, the rise of Millennials entering the workforce, and the advent of online staffing platforms. Zenith Talent’s unique recruiting model, known as Crowdstaffing, represents a confluence of these trends, enabling the very best talent to be hired on a large scale.

When sourcing workers through the crowd, contingent talent and buyers establish a marketplace and enable a process of bidding and interaction through services that offer identity and profile management, skills searching, resume matching, ratings and references, payment terms or negotiations and more. The inherent issue with crowdsourcing, as experts note, is the lack of structure and oversight. This is why we firmly believe the role of staffing professionals will transform into one of curation, where staffing curators oversee the process and enforce compliance. If you’re interested in learning more, be on the lookout for our forthcoming eBook on Crowdstaffing.

NASA emailed a socket wrench to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)

A lot of us probably grew up fantasizing about the replicators we saw on shows such as “Star Trek” and “The Jetsons.” Today, 3D printing has made such feats possible. It’s no longer an expensive novelty for enthusiasts in the geek culture, it’s a practical device being used to develop aircraft, pieces of art, tools and more. In 2014, a 20-piece wrench was designed on Earth and then emailed to the space station for 3D printing and assembly. The next time Houston hears of a problem, it can empower its space cowboys to produce emergency equipment on demand.

So what does this say about the future of talent? That the workforce will be remote, globally dispersed and unified by advances in technology.

Global mobility and virtual operations are becoming the new normal. Talent is more fluid and assignments will be handed remotely through telecommuting and social platforms. More cooperative, cross-border security and IT infrastructures will remove the old obstacles. In many developed European nations, such as the United Kingdom, over 20 percent of employees are already working efficiently from home.

  • The freelance Millennials and clustered teams of contingent contractors will become the standard face of business.
  • More than ever before, assignments will continue to be finite and defined by purpose.
  • Work will be performed internationally on a larger scale, based on the skills and qualifications of the talent, not on location.
  • Clients are already beginning to select employees from virtual marketplaces for specific projects or rotational programs. That train will keep gathering steam.
  • Contingent labor is rapidly evolving into complementary labor — the norm for businesses around the world in need of short-term support or specialization. With the world as connected and virtualized as it is, and shall become, work is no longer dependent on geography. Contingent workers also have more options for and access to assignments. This is particularly relevant considering the emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe.

And behind all of those developments, socialized technologies will be mission-critical, facilitating virtual communications, meetings, file sharing, reporting and team collaboration across time zones.

2015 will be a year of communication

The needs of tomorrow’s talent will be driven by mobility, community and agility. This push toward independence will shape the coming generations and the increasingly more contingent and more virtualized nature of talent, enabled and supported by robust communication systems. This trend alone has the potential to guide all subsequent workforce themes for the coming year and beyond. Enhanced and improved communications will play a pivotal part in directing how we recruit, train, onboard, support and embrace the new generations of talent entering the workforce — a group of workers more diverse, more geographically distributed and more concerned with their candidate experience than their predecessors. In part two of this series, we’ll examine more groundbreaking sci-fi realities that saw the light of day in 2014, and what they mean for the future of talent.

Photo Credit: Gary Knight via Flickr