Read this great Mashable piece, 5 Ways the Workforce Will Change in 5 Years, and I’ll bet you’ll reach this conclusion: The ways we communicate with employees today simply won’t be effective in the future.

That means we need to rethink our entire approach. In fact, I was reminded of the scene in the 1975 movie Jaws when Police Chief Brody first gets a close look at the great white shark. Shocked, he slowly backs away until he reaches Quint and utters the famous line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

You, dear colleague, are going to need to refit your communication vessels to account for big workforce changes. Here are the four trends that have the biggest implications for communication:

  1. 50% of the workforce will be contractors or freelancers. Many companies don’t even have a strategy to communicate with people who aren’t officially employees, yet who come to work (even if they’re remote) every day. How will you reach and engage this segment?
  2. Flexwork will be routine. With knowledge workers increasingly setting their own schedules, how will you schedule town halls and other events? And reach employees who start at 6 am or work until midnight?
  3. Impatient workers will jump ship. “I ain’t afraid of no shark,” they’ll yell as they swim toward new job opportunities. (Oops, different movie.) How will you build knowledge when turnover is high (or employees stay, but move around a lot within your company)?
  4. Millennials will rule. Baby Boomers will finally retire or transition to consulting/advisory roles. So all those old-fashioned practices (hierarchy, endless approvals, etc.) can go away. How will you communicate in an environment that’s less structured and more participative?

Are you ready? Meet you at the shipyard!


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