Previous eras were defined first by the raw materials that transformed them — the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age, then they were characterized by the domains people conquered with ever-improving technology — the Industrial Age, Space Age and Information Age. Now we're entering a new age: The Human Age. Manpower confirms that this is the new reality and it has significant implications both for employers and for individuals, as human potential now becomes the major agent of economic growth. The world is experiencing an era of great transformation, where business models will have to be redesigned, value propositions redefined and social systems reinvented. Existing models and social systems have been strained to the point that they're no longer sustainable. The resulting chaos and post-recession pressure to do more with less is creating a very challenging environment.
"Our ability as companies, as governments and of course individuals to adjust to this new reality, this new way of doing things, will depend upon to what extent we can tap into inner human potential — talent has become the key differentiator," said Joerres. "Understanding how to unleash this spirit, passion and potential is not a one-size-fits-all approach and will require employers to engage with their people on a human level. We are entering the Human Age."
Global forces, including the recession, rapid technological development, a shifting demographic landscape and the rise and fall in power of emerging and developed markets are conspiring to bring about the Human Age, and the velocity of change is increasing. Through the recession and now into the recovery, many organizations have streamlined and redefined their people practices, cutting costs while driving efficiency. Consequently, many companies have come to realize that if they are able to unlock the potential of the right people in the right place, they can achieve more than they imagined — even in a challenging environment. This pressure is driving innovation and passion in a way never seen before. Employers have discovered that the right talent is more important than ever, but at the same time, talent is becoming a scarce resource; employers are struggling with a mismatch -
finding the right talent in the right place at the right time, despite relatively high levels of unemployment. According to Manpower's most recent
"In the past, it was a 'war for talent,' now it's a war for talents," added Joerres. "What we're seeing now and what we're hearing from the companies we're dealing with is that in order to get ahead you have to have the talent you need not just in a few key executive roles, but in every position in the organization. Margins have been squeezed to such a point of tension that every role matters, every role must be as productive and efficient as it can be — in roles ranging from the CEO to the janitor. Organizations need to have access to talent — not just capital. As this process evolves, we'll see capitalism shifting to talentism, and access to talent, rather than capital, become the definitive competitive advantage."
In the Human Age, it is more important than ever that companies take the time to understand exactly what their talent needs will be, not just now but five or ten years down the line - and align their talent strategy closely with their business strategy. Then, they must become more agile in terms of how they attract, retain and develop their employees. Employers need to ensure that they update their work models and people practices to allow them to unlock the potential that they need to thrive in this new reality.
As organizations and governments realize that the only path to success is through unleashing human potential, and providing an appropriate environment in which to do so, the motivations and preferences of individuals will become increasingly important. Technology and the growth of social media have led to a new level of transparency and the ability to directly engage and have a human-to-human conversation with almost anyone — whether as employer to employee or retailer to consumer.
This means that the world is likely to see a shift in power from the organization to the individual. As talent becomes the key competitive differentiator for employers, skilled individuals will increasingly be able to dictate terms to employers, around how, where and when they work. Technology will continue to liberate; redefining concepts of flexible and collaborative working, allowing some skilled individuals to vault the restrictions of national borders and migration caps, and organizations to take advantage of a geographically disparate workforce.
"This new reality is creating new societal norms. New ways of doing business are required both for the individual and for companies to succeed. How you organize yourself as a company, how you're able to get work done in a different way, such as through virtual work, teaming, collaboration. The whole way of acting as an individual in a global environment is changing rapidly," said Joerres. "Those who are able to unleash the passion and innovation of the human spirit will be those that will win in this new reality, this Human Age, where we have to do more with less. Those who don't sit up and take notice of this will quickly be left behind."
The Human Age presents a challenging and exciting opportunity for organizations to leverage the potential of their greatest asset — their people — to drive the business forward. The recession, combined with advances in technology, expectations of business transparency and social mobility, have brought us to the cusp of a new age. Now, governments, businesses and individuals must work together to unleash the potential of the human spirit, that will help us to make sense of this new era.
20 Epic Shifts to the Human Age
The Human Age
Access to capital the differentiator
Access to talent the differentiator
Driven by owners and companies
Driven by skilled individuals
Workers chasing companies
Companies chasing workers
Companies dictate terms
Employees dictate terms
Workers living near (or from) place of work
Workers living (or from) anywhere
Unemployment from over-supply
Unemployment from specific demand
Technology the enslaver
Technology the liberator
Job for life
10-14 jobs by age 38
Corporate opacity; secretiveness
Corporate transparency; openness,
OECD countries growing and dominant
Non-OECD countries growing and dominant —
Work for an organization
Work with an organization
Be lean and mean
Look out, not in
Command and control
Enter the Human Age at: www.manpower.com/humanage.
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