Intensified competition in low-cost markets and the financial crisis have encouraged a trend towards a leaner, more contingent (contract-based) workforce. According to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the proportion of contingent to permanent workers will shift in favour of the former over the next decade. In a global survey of 479 senior executives, 67% of respondents say they'll hire contract workers or outsource work rather than recruit full-time staff over the next 10 years.
The EIU reports also notes that companies will continue to localise the management of overseas operations to leverage native managers’ keener cultural understanding of customers and employees. But in a world where cross-border interaction is expected to become more intense, a global outlook will be just as important as local knowledge. "While localising management, companies will need a consistent global brand to attract customers and talent," notes EIU.
Companies will also focus on building communication skills, cultural awareness and corporate values through international assignments and by bringing together groups of workers from different countries and functions into training sessions.
Technical skills, while mandatory, are seen as less defining of the successful manager than the ability to work across cultures and build relationships with many different constituents. "People who have local knowledge, a global outlook and an intuitive sense of the corporate culture will have the best leadership potential," says the EIU.
The report also says that companies will partner with governments and universities to increase the pipeline of qualified candidates in emerging markets. Social networking tools will also be critical according to interviewees for the report, although a mere 28% of survey respondents say their company will use information technology (IT) and social networking tools for global recruitment over the coming decade.
Another likely feature of future workforce organisation identified in the study is greater diversity of workers which is expected to make cross-border communication more important—-and more challenging.
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