Welcome To The Post-Industrial Economy: AI Is Here To Save Us

This week we published my keynote speech from Irresistible 2023, and I encourage you to watch it. Here’s the story in brief, and I’ll be talking a lot more about this at the HR Technology Conference and Unleash 2023 conferences in October.


The Post-Industrial Economy

Business leaders are confronting a world of opportunity and change. We’ve come out of the pandemic with a strong economy but an unprecedented pace of change. Industries are merging, technology is disrupting business models, and nearly every company we talk with is focused on software, services, recurring revenue, and the opportunities unleashed by AI. And as this transformation takes place, employees have more power, agency, and freedom than ever.

Witness the latest unemployment numbers. US unemployment is at a 54 year low, wages are increasing by nearly 5% (still below inflation), and more than 40% of all jobs posted now cite “hybrid work” as an option. And whether CEOs like it or not, surveys show that employees prefer a hybrid work arrangement, so we’re not going back to the days of “full-time in-office” ever again.

hybrid work increases employee engagement

And despite the challenges of employee burnout, mental health, and demands to keep pay up with inflation, CEOs are focused on the productivity, retention, and the sustainability of their workforce. Nearly every company we talk with is worried about a shortage of skills, a shortage of workers, and a shortage of leaders in the management pipeline.

We’ve entered an era where the scarcity of talent is now one of the biggest problems companies face.

Economists would have you believe this is a temporary condition. They believe that once we get inflation under control and interest rates rise appropriately, employment will go back to “normal” and we’ll find it easier to hire and locate skills again.

Our research shows something different. The shortage of workers, obsolescence of skills, and new found employee autonomy is not a temporary thing: it is a symptom of a new economic era. And we call this new era the “post-industrial age.”

This new age, coming in the era of AI, is one of continuous worker shortages, a scarcity of talent, and a highly flexible, hybrid, and gig-oriented workforce. People are hired based on skills, not credentials; we engage and develop people as investments, not an expense. And as AI becomes more prevalent, real workforce productivity (revenue per employee, GDP per economic worker), is going up, not down. So our companies are becoming more lean, more performative, and more agile.

josh bersin post-industrial economy

Not all companies are ready for this, so we want you to understand what’s going on. Watch my keynote and you’ll really understand this issue. (And mark your calendar for Irresistible 2024.)

More To Come

We will be launching a major research study on this topic in October and a new body of research on the corporate dynamism, the role of AI, and much more. Stay tuned and join us at our events this fall.

Join us in The Josh Bersin Academy for an interactive discussion of this topic!

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