Finding Inspiration in the Future of Work


If there’s anything more inspiring than thinking about a future full of success, I can’t name it. That was the feeling I took away from the recent ICE (Institute for Credentialing Excellence) Exchange Conference. The event always has a strong education component, and this year’s keynote lived up to their typically high standards.

As a father of two “Gen. Z” daughters about to enter the workforce, Anne Loehr’s keynote presentation on “The Future of Work” really sparked my interest. Anne identified four major trends that she predicts will lead to a workplace revolution (and there’s a good chance that some of these trends are already affecting your association today):

1. Baby Boomer Retirements

  • Every day, 10,000 people turn 65 in the U.S.
  • Millennials have become the largest population in the workforce

2. The Freelance Economy

  • Within a few years, 40% of the U.S. workforce will work on a freelance basis
  • The ease of finding help online and the expense of hiring traditional employees is fueling the growth

3. Women-Owned Businesses

  • Women own 31% of private businesses in the US
  • Ownership provides an alternative to traditional employment’s lack of flexibility and fair pay

4. Diversity on the Rise

  • Minorities—currently 40% of the workforce—will soon become the majority
  • Ethnic groups comprise 95% of the U.S. population growth

Preparing your association to meet the needs of a changing membership is a topic that gets a lot of attention; but, on the flipside, thinking about meeting the changing needs of your employees is another important issue to keep in mind.

Each of the trends mentioned above creates unique opportunities and challenges for organizations. Associations that can find the right answers to these issues will put themselves in a position to attract and retain the best talent going forward:

Going “All In” on Millennials

Organizations that focus on grooming a new generation of leaders will need a significant commitment to professional development. A solid “promote from within” culture will be an important part of seeing this investment pay off.

Utilizing Freelancers

Freelancers will undoubtedly result in a cost-savings compared to the expense of a full-time employee; but, will a freelancer that lives your organization’s mission just a few hours a week have the same value as an employee that understands the nuances of your industry?

Competitive Benefits Are Essential

In order to retain top talent, flexibility and a fair salary are two qualities your association needs to embrace. If not, your best employees will leave for more-friendly environments.

Prepare for a More Diverse Workplace

Groups that were once considered minorities will for the first time be part of the majority. Organizations that promote an inclusive, diverse workforce will have access to an expanding pool of talent.


Your association may have a plan to engage the next generation of members, but if you aren’t also thinking about how to recruit the next generation of employees, now is the time. As Anne pointed out in her keynote, Baby Boomers continue to retire in large numbers, so finding talent to fill their vacancies should be a top focus for your organization. After all, if you aren’t providing a workplace environment that offers the flexibility and benefits to match the Future of Work, someone else will!

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