At IMI's Design & Innovation unit we follow emerging trends that might affect the needs of businesses as they grow and develop. There's something interesting about trends which you begin to notice after a few years… they have a life cycle. What usually first impacts our lives as consumers tends to end up ultimately influence the workplace. Social Media is one example – initially a personal and mainly recreational activity in our personal lives – it has become in the last 5 years a standard means of presenting our employability online.
So the theory goes…if we examine what's happening in consumer trends now… we might expect we'll catch a glimpse of what we might see in the workplace of the future.
One area of particular interest to us is in how their organisations seek out and develop their future star performers. There are 3 trends in this area which we've already begun to see in some of the organisations we engage with.
Pretail is the name (coined by Trendwatching.com) for consumer's involvement in shaping the products that they might be buy in the future. Technology has enabled consumers to engage more than ever with products before they even become customers, whether it be in terms of crowd-funding or co-designing them (see kickstarter.com or makethatthing.com for examples). The engaging of customers before the point of sale is also happening in education. One of the tangiable benefits of Massive Online Open Courses (or MOOCs) is their function as low cost pre-enrolment of a global student body for colleges and universities.
So, we might expect that we would see businesses taking advantage of technology to identify and recruit talent – before they had even crossed the company threshold – using online competitions and pre-enrolment.
In fact this is already happening .. companies like Google and others reach out to potential future recruits via online competitive initiatives such as the Google Online Marketing Challenge.
It's increasingly likely that we'll see other businesses putting out the challenges that they might want individuals to prove themselves with in order to see pre-enrolment for their organisations…
Hiring the Expert Network
One supposed downside of hiring members of a generation raised to rely on search engines is the fear that there is an attitude of "I can just go and look it up". We hear a lot of talk about the death of expertise – but it’s more likely that we will see social media and the increasingly visible networks between employees open up new channels of expertise and indeed of talent.
As those who don't remember life before social networks enter the workforce there will be a larger explicit role for these networks in people’s careers. Networks have always been important – but they have been made more visible by technology. In an environment where recruiters still compete head to head for top talent organisations have begun to realise that as you're hiring someone you're hiring their network.
So Precruitment and The Expert Network might become more common in terms of how we hire people… What will those being hired expect? They'll want the same things they can expect of products and services…
Increasingly consumers want to receive continuous feedback on themselves, and on their own preferences. Whether it's your electricity usage profile or recommendations on how a service could best fit your needs, there is a growing interest in experiences that are all about "me" . More recently this has manifested as a wave of monitoring devices which provide information for self-improvement. See for example apps that tell you if you have slept well and wrist-watches that trace your heartbeat. Trendwatching.com predicts that this will soon evolve into an interest in all things mental health – what they term "Mychiatry". Individuals will seek to use seamlessly integrated devices and software track and improve their own well-being.
What this most likely means for organisations is that individuals will expect and demand more role-based and psychometric profiling. We see these tools being used regularly already at every level from graduate recruitment to the appointment of CEOs. The change will happen as employees become more actively engaged in honing their profiles in through skills development and experience to improve their own career prospects and their relationship with their employer.
So if these trends continue, the future of hiring and recruitment looks set to become interesting. There will be more data on candidates via their engagement with the organisation even before they are considered for a role, more acknowledgement of the formal role of networks of experience that cross company boundaries and an increasingly two-way relationship between employee and employer in terms of mutually beneficial personal and leadership development.
Eva Maguire is Head of Design & Innovation at IMI, a team of program designers and customer relationship managers that use industry insight and innovative learning methods and technology to create client solutions and experiences. Her expertise is in strategic planning, research and innovation management.