I’m often asked to speak about the workforce of tomorrow – what will future employees look like, how will they require us to change our approach to business, and what will they expect from their professional and personal lives.

You don’t need a crystal ball to predict what the workforce of tomorrow will look like. Shifting global demographics, changing consumer habits, and the globalization of our business markets gives us a pretty good indicator of what the workforce will look like in 2020 and beyond:

  • By 2030, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of Gen Y, Millenials.
  • 20% more of today’s global workforce populations will have obtained a post-secondary  accredited degree than the previous generation.  Even greater numbers are expected to leverage OpenCourseware programs for free, such as Khan Academy or Apple’s iTunes’ U in the future.
  • By 2050, more than 16% of the world’s population will be over 65 compared to 7% in 2000. As science continues to extend life-spans, workers will stay employed and active much longer.

In the U.S. workforce today:

  • More than 50% of the workforce is female and over 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs are now held by females.
    • 87% of the world’s population owns a cellular phone as we speak, and the trend is moving upward with smart wireless devices gaining faster traction than electricity and running water in some remote areas.
    • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations; only 14% trust advertisements.
    • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

So what does this tell us about the workforce of the future?

  • They are older and younger at the same time.
  • They are mobile and connected.
  • They are more educated but likely less skilled.
  • They are more social but less trusting.
  • They are both great content creators and content consumers.
  • They are more diverse and yet share more global cultural norms.

Workers of tomorrow are not easily put in a box, type-cast, or classified. They will expect a lot more than previous generations from both their work and personal environments. Business leaders can simply prepare for change – but those who embrace and utilize the coming changes can create a short-cut to a future of possibilities.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll take some time to share a birds-eye view of the changing workforce expectations that will have a major impact on how businesses function and do business in the future. These expectations range from new leadership models to shifting perspectives on engagement. We’ll take an in-depth look at each one. I look forward to your comments and feedback as we explore this topic in detail.

Stacey's Blog


Stacey Harris

Vice President, Research and Advisory Services
Stacey Harris

Stacey Harris oversees Brandon Hall Group’s research strategy and agenda, solution provider relations, and advisory services. Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Harris was with Bersin & Associates. In her most recent role as director of HR and talent management research, she launched the company’s HR practice and led key research initiatives in strategic HR, talent strategy, organization and governance, measurement, and total rewards. Harris also served as director of strategic services for three years and worked with companies such as McDonald’s, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, and Pfizer on a variety of mission-critical talent initiatives.Harris has also held leadership roles at Jo-Ann Stores, MRI International, and Keybank.Harris's background includes experience leading enterprise-wide change management initiatives and technology implementations, business process alignments, and the design and implementation of integrated organizational effectiveness solutions including measurement strategies.