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Six workplace challenges to expect in the new year

The local workplace will be continually redefined over the next 12 months as demographics, legislation and technology continue to evolve, and HR experts warn employers need to be flexible to employee needs.

A panel of industry experts that met in Sydney this week have warned employers and HR professionals to deal with employee demands for more flexible terms of engagement, a continuing skills shortage and the need to manage a growing burden of risk.

As baby boomers give way to Generation Y, industrial relations and OHS legislation change as well as the rapid adoption of mobile and remote access technologies, 2012 will give way to a changing workplace.

The panel included Entity Solutions CEO, Matthew Franceschini; Sage MicrOpay managing director, Craig Osborne; ComOps GM Daniel Sheahan; and Frost and Sullivan ANZ managing director, Mark Dougan.

They defined the top six workplace challenges facing employees over the next year:

1. Employers must look for skills not roles as changing demographics mean part time and casual work are taking over traditional contract and permanent staff arrangements.

Franceshini says: “Our expectation is that skills shortages and changing work practices will lead to a greater prevalence of assignment and project-based engagements.”

2. Unionisation will re-emerge as public perceptions see the overpaid executive benefitting at the cost of the general worker. The introduction of Fair Work Australia and development of enterprise bargaining agreements have been well received by disgruntled members of the workforce.

3. Employers must use new nationally consistent OHS regulations as an opportunity designed to increase director’s duty of care and provide a safer workplace. The benefits available to companies willing to embrace these regulations will show in terms of cost reduction and employee satisfaction.

4. Conflict between the benefits and risks of new technology arise through smartphones, mobile devices, cloud-based software and the need to get information back to businesses from remote employees and not just to employees to begin with.

5. Skills shortages will continue as baby boomers retire leaving behind an under supply of suitable replacement skills. Hr professionals will need to find ways to retain existing skills bases through creation of part time, contracting or mentoring roles for people nearing retirement.

Osborne says: “Today, the average payroll manager is over 50 and it’s highly likely that in the next five to ten years the industry will hit a critical point because there are just not enough new people coming through.”

6. Employees expect recognition for their availability as Generation Y is attracted to work on offer rather than a particular position, as opposed to the order, structure and defined workplaces of baby boomers.

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Maree Sorbello

Maree Sorbello

Maree is a first year student at Sydney's University of Technology, and is one of Dynamic Business' star interns.

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