10 Predictions for Work Force Challenges in 2011

Don Tennant
Slide Show

Work Force Challenges
in 2011

Despite the improving economy, we'll continue to struggle with difficult work force challenges in 2011.

Despite the improving economy, we'll continue to struggle with difficult work force challenges in 2011, as companies find themselves dealing with such problems as disengaged employees, skills atrophy and worker resentment.


That forecast comes from Rick Dacri, a human resources consultant and author of the book, "Uncomplicating Management." I spoke with Dacri earlier today, and he provided 10 predictions on what to expect in the realm of work force management in the coming year:


  • Hiring will be up. Throughout 2011, hiring will increase, slowly, but steadily. Watch for targeted hiring as employers focus on key employees who can make an immediate contribution in the company's core business. Previously, too many companies responded to productivity problems by throwing people at them. Now, hiring for the sake of hiring is dead.
  • Turnover will increase. As employees become more confident of an improving economy, many will bail. Pent up frustrations with cuts in pay and benefits, watching fellow employees lose their jobs and fatigue due to working more with less will push workers to begin searching for greener pastures. At the same time, employers' star performers will be targeted by external recruiters for poaching. As business improves, key staff will be needed and those unprotected and unappreciated stars will become vulnerable and open to a recruiter's pitch.
  • Contingent hires will reign. Though the economy is improving, employers will focus their hiring on temporary workers as a hedge. Confidence is not high so employers will depend on temps realizing their work force can expand and contract easier with them. Temp agency businesses will boom in 2011. Watch for significant hiring of temps, part-timers and independent contractors.
  • Cost reductions will continue. Employers will continue to search for ways to cut costs. Labor costs and health care insurance will be the biggest targets. While employers struggle to keep these two line items in check, they will be forced to address the need to remain competitive. Cutting too much will drive employees out-potentially into the hands of competitors; cut too little and employers will watch their bottom line erode. Employers will struggle to keep the balance.
  • Layoffs will continue. Though hiring will increase, expect to see employers cutting labor at the same time. In fact, more employers will be hiring and firing simultaneously. In this new economy, employers will continue to focus on their core business, hiring needed and critical talent for their core business while quickly shedding "unnecessary" workers elsewhere. Lean and mean will be the new mantra.
  • Employee engagement will continue to drop. Employee engagement has been dropping for several years and will continue in 2011. Workplace stress, fatigue and anger have turned employees off and the last two years have been especially hard on employees. With disengagement, employer's productivity gains will be at serious risk. Employers who successfully address this problem will see business soar in 2011.
  • Training will increase. Employers will begin investing in all aspects of employee training. Training was among the first things to go during the recession and employers are beginning to feel the effects. Skill atrophy has set in, especially among workers who have been out of work for over a year. As employers push for greater productivity with less labor, the need for trained talent will be critical.
  • Social networking will become more mainstream. More employers will turn to social networking to recruit and also to communicate directly with their employees. No longer will it be seen as a productivity drain or an employee distraction. Employers will utilize it as a valuable and cost effective tool.
  • Employment lawsuits will increase. As more older and higher paid workers get pink slips while the unemployed struggle to find jobs, more will turn to the courts for remedy. Watch for more age discrimination and wrongful discharge suits. In addition, as more contingent workers are hired, more claims around worker misclassifications will occur, putting a chill on future hiring.
  • Succession planning will be more in vogue. More and more organizations and boards of directors will slowly begin to realize that many of their key employees and leadership are getting older. Employers begin to understand that they must prepare for the potential losses of this critical talent and start to put in place succession plans.

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Dec 22, 2010 5:51 AM mataj mataj  says:

Hiring will be up

Cost reductions will continue

This combination will result in many failed attempts of hiring people on limited budget, and increased shortage shouting.

Lean and mean will be the new mantra.

New mantra? Ha! Lean and mean is the mantra ever since the dotcom bubble.

Employee engagement will continue to drop.

There's nothing here to drop anywhere. Employee morale/engagement was a casualty, a predictable & acceptable collateral damage in a war against skilled labor, Taylor style:


In IT, the said war was won a long time ago.

Employers who successfully address this problem will see business soar in 2011.

Raising the employee engagement, like raising the zombies, is generally not a good idea.

Succession planning will be more in vogue


Dec 24, 2010 7:45 AM Warior Warior  says: in response to mataj

Yours really listen to the garbages from Don Tenant ?? He has told us many hiring soaring since this year ended up with more and more unemployment... the situation is a little bit better because of the holiday season, when the holiday is ended the job market will retreat to where it was or even worsen than before. May be more hirings for the Indian H-1B workers in US  not for the local. Forget it don't believe Don Tenant propaganda machine craps..

Dec 26, 2010 10:20 AM mataj mataj  says: in response to Warior

Mr. Tenant told us that hiring will be up, cost reductions will continue, and layoffs will continue. Therefore: No matter what happens, his predictions will always be correct.

Dec 26, 2010 12:02 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to mataj

I have to admit I'm growing a little weary of you misstating the facts in your comments. Read the post again. It specifically states that the predictions come from Rick Dacri, yet you are attributing them to me. I present many insights in my blog that are not mine, and that I don't necessarily agree with, in order to provide a forum for discourse on topics that interest me. I trust that in the future you will read my posts more carefully before commenting on them so as not to misstate the facts.

Dec 27, 2010 4:26 AM mataj mataj  says: in response to Don Tennant

OK, I stand corrected:

This here prediction sez that hiring will be up, cost reductions will continue, and layoffs will continue. Therefore: No matter what happens, this here prediction will always be correct.

Dec 29, 2010 1:14 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Warior

It's news to you that there are a ton of jobs going overseas, and that you're now competing in a global marketplace? And you see that as proof of what? It's a fact of life. Deal with it. If you can't find a decent job in your field, maybe it's not because the U.S. government is lying about the unemployment figures. Maybe the blame lies in the fact that you're the type of person who's so shallow of thought that you call someone anti-American for holding views that are different from yours. Perhaps you don't interview well because potential employers have a problem with your way of approaching differences of opinion. Perhaps the problem is that you clearly need to improve your communication and writing skills. I have no idea. But at least try to understand that a lot of people just don't want to associate with, let alone employ, negative, bitter, finger-pointing people, even if they had great communications skills. There are too many people out there who not only are qualified, but who have kind, uplifting dispositions that people naturally want to be around.

Dec 29, 2010 7:19 AM mataj mataj  says: in response to Don Tennant

The 4.3% IT unemployment number is a Bureau of Labor Statistics number.

According to SGS, the real unemployment is about 22.5% versus 10% official unemployment


IT unemployment is therefore  about 9.5%, if we presume the same real/official rate.

Dec 29, 2010 12:13 PM Warior Warior  says: in response to Don Tennant

I guess he is the same guy told you 4% unemployment IT in the past right ? It is horrible man all I can tell you... There is no such thing 4% unemployment in IT. What about all the one gave up working at McDonald and Walmart and they are lump sum to 4% too right ?? What cazy and idiot forcaster. We have to fix this country otherwise everybody soon or later are going raise up... I gave up too depressing ...

Dec 29, 2010 12:23 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Warior

You call yourself "Warior," which I assume is a misspelling of "Warrior," and you "gave up." THAT, my friend, is what's depressing. The 4.3% IT unemployment number is a Bureau of Labor Statistics number. As I said in my most recent post, it's time we in this country stopped being such wusses.

Dec 29, 2010 12:27 PM Warior Warior  says: in response to Don Tennant

I have prove to show to you Mr. Tenant ;


Companies hire outside and bring more H-1B workers in, bring jobs outside and bring in more foreigners how can we recover. We will be in dip trouble again. Like I said it will fix by itself because there is no balance. No once spending anymore then no hope for both sides. Companies will crash, people in US will crash. There is no benefit for both sides. It must be fixed... Please don't post you crazy propaganda it will hurt American. I know you don't like American but it doesn't hurt for you to stop it please..

Dec 30, 2010 1:07 AM Warior Warior  says: in response to Don Tennant

My name is Warior and I aint going to change to Warrior.. I intent to do so even thought it is misspelling..

Idiot, shipping jobs oversea because it is cheaper due to cheating trading partners out there and it is not global competition. It is price competition don't you get it..

Import H-1B Visa workers is the same concept base on cheaper rate. Don't you get it..

I support H-1B visa for student coming here study but not  H-1B visa workers form India.

We are willing to compete but we can't do it on the cost bargaining.. I wish your job taken by H-1B some day then let see how do you feel..

Dec 30, 2010 1:18 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Warior

Go back and read your comment. I would submit to you that if you're unemployed or underemployed, your name-calling nature and your communications skills are likely the problems. The H-1B issue is a convenient excuse to hide behind, and it will get you nowhere. But I've become tired of this string. Good luck in your pursuits.

Dec 30, 2010 5:19 AM Warior Warior  says: in response to Don Tennant

Who said I am unemployed ??? I am still employed but most of my buddies in IT are gone. Don't you get it..

Dec 31, 2010 1:12 AM Warior Warior  says: in response to Don Tennant

Mr. Tennant, Can you please provide me the link for this "The 4.3% IT unemployment number is a Bureau of Labor Statistics number" please ?

Dec 31, 2010 4:49 AM mataj mataj  says: in response to Warior

Don't you get it.

Oh, he gets it, don't worry about that. He's just trying to steer the debate away from the relevant issues to the personal level.

Speaking about relevance- I think there's far too much hullabaloo around H-1B. IMHO H1-B is just a distraction.

Apart from exchange rate manipulation & different purchasing power parity in different countries, the primary reason for the uncompetitive position of the US professionals are astronomical tuitions & student debt (another nasty bubble, google it!). In many countries, tuitions are paid by the taxpayers. Graduates can thus afford to charge less for their services, because they are not burdened by student debt. In final consequence, the taxpayers of poorer countries are indirectly, through the subsidized tuitions, financing the foreign companies their graduates are working for.

Jan 3, 2011 2:52 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Warior

Well, sure, since you asked so nicely. The 4.3% figure was in the September BLS report, which was replaced by the November BLS report here: http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea30.pdf.

The figure was up to 5.2% in November, due in large part to a rise in unemployment for women. For men, the figure stood at 4.4%. In any case, as you can see, the figure has been in the 4-5% range since Nov. 2009, which is roughly half of the overall unemployment rate.


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