HR needs to take a bigger role in shaping tomorrow's organisations.

MT at 50: CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese on whether we can create a better work-life balance in the future.

by Ian Wylie
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2020

Peter Cheese is chief executive of CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Here’s his expert insight into the trends that are likely to transform our world of work in the near, medium and long-term future.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity ahead?

The trends driving the future of work over the next 10 or so years are already here now. They are characterised by increasing diversity in where and how we work, in the nature of our workforces and organisations, and the jobs we do.

But we will have to actively design work and organisations for this future, and to challenge and innovate more in our ways of working and our management practices. HR as a function in particular has a big role to play and has to step up.

Will the world of work become fairer?

Fairness is an important if somewhat complex notion. People do react to perceived unfairness very strongly, either by leaving a job or by disengaging and becoming less motivated. It is also a key element of trust.

A multi-year study on fairness at work by Lancaster University, the Work Foundation and the CIPD found that 41% of people surveyed said they had encountered things they thought were unfair in their workplace in the last year, 59% believed that the rules and procedures are not applied consistently and 49% believe rewards are not distributed fairly.

Pay itself is the greatest cause of perceived unfairness, and reward systems and outcomes must continue to come under greater scrutiny.

What are your concerns for the future?

If economic growth really slows and automation takes out many of the low and mid-skill level jobs of today, how do we then balance our economies and ensure fairness and prosperity for all?

This would require profound change across our education and welfare systems, legislation and taxation, business policy and industrial strategy. We would have to reduce norms of working hours, shift our reward mechanisms, and work out how to share wealth more widely.

Perhaps this is our longer-term future. That we are finally able to really reduce the burden of work for all and to provide for more balanced and fulfilled lives. As the Dalai Lama observed, we sacrifice our health to make money and sacrifice money to recuperate our health.

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