There was a very interesting report recently issued by Hewitt Associates that indicates that demographics, economic, technological, and sociopolitical phenomena are driving the most drastic workforce changes in decades, creating a workforce that's more diverse, mobile, informed, and in demand than ever before. The report, "NextGeneration Talent Management" may be found at http://was4.hewitt.com/hewitt/resource/rptspubs/subrptspubs/next_generation.htm.

The report reveals five trends reshaping the workforce, and concludes that most organizations aren't prepared to manage the new generations of talent. The five trends are that the workforce is becoming:

1. Smaller and less sufficiently skilled,

2. Increasingly global,

3. Highly virtual,

4. Vastly diverse, and

5. Autonomous and empowered.

After identifying the trends, the report postulates in detail on the implications that these trends are anticipated to have on talent management. The most interesting part of the report was the observation in the closing thoughts section buried after the footnotes and the biographies:

"Truth be told, our research on leading organizations revealed no single company that has planned a holistic approach to address all of the coming workforce changes. It showed that while many organizations are aware of the unstoppable workforce trends identified in this report, they fall short in terms of preparing for the talent management implications these trends present. In fact, many organizations fail to comprehend the intensity of these workforce changes. Some are complacent, assuming the workforce changes will have little or no impact on them. Some have dismissed these workforce trends as 'hype' or exaggeration. Only a select few have begun planning 'combat' strategies. But even they are still predominantly focused on addressing one or two workforce trends."

Just as knowledge management came to the forefront a number of years ago and companies and some of the larger accounting firms created executive level positions for Chief Knowledge Officers, I expect the same thing will happen with regard to talent management. Human resources department will end up reporting to the Chief Talent Management Officer.

I believe the report is dead-on, and the trends identified within the report will have a tremendous impact on both accounting firms and their clients for some time to come.

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