A Bartender’s Predictions for 2011

Yep, it’s that time of year again.  Time to stick my neck out and predict what I think might happen in the upcoming year.  In reviewing my 2010 predictions, I don’t think I did too bad.  You can decide for yourself by checking it out here.  This year is a bit trickier – economic indicators are all over the place.  No real clear direction from government.  But based upon where we’ve been and where I see us going…here’s my list of things to watch out for:

  1. A possible public sector crisis.  We’ve seen the downfall of the private sector and now the beginning of a rebound.  While it will still take years to see a full private sector recovery, things have been moving in a positive direction.  What we haven’t seen is the full impact to the public sector, and let’s face it…it’s coming.  All the foreclosures and unemployment translates into fewer taxes (i.e. less revenue for government to operate).  At some point, it seems logical that a local or state government will mention the word bankruptcy.  Then bailout.  Just a matter of time.
  2. The new family unit.  Call it extended, non-traditional, sandwich generation, whatever.  It’s not mom, dad, a couple of kids and a mini-van.  The roles of people living under the same roof are changing and organizations need to recognize and respect it.  This means looking at benefits as well as policies to embrace the new definition of family.
  3. Conference attendance will be down.  Companies know they need to invest in professional development but, at the same time, are looking to get maximum return on the dollars spent.  Instead of spending a couple thousand dollars to send one person to a conference, they will spend that money on training and development for a larger audience.  Think corporate universities or something similar on a small business scale.
  4. Higher education will increase use of technology in curriculum design.  To keep enrollment numbers up, colleges and universities will look to have increased presence beyond the traditional brick and mortar learning environment.  We’ll see more blended learning and eLearning programs to attract and retain students who need a flexible environment.
  5. Social learning and gaming will be in demand.  With the popularity of Facebook and mobile games, companies will be looking for ways to bring this kind of fun into corporate learning.  Who knows, maybe Second Life will make a comeback?
  6. The word for 2011 will be opportunity.  Everyone wants one.  Whether it’s the job seeker, the small business owner or the opportunity economy…it’s all about creating opportunities, innovation in leveraging opportunities or sharing opportunities.  The questions will be about the quantity of opportunities available and evaluating the quality of each opportunity.

Oh, and my travel prediction for next year is that 2011 will be about the road trip.  People want to take a vacation but they don’t want the hassles of paying for luggage, pat-downs and body scanners.  And my food prediction is barbecue.  I think the past couple of years have made people realize how important good food and friends are.  So I see the re-emergence of potlucks and block parties – anything where the food is cooked low and slow with good friends hanging out together.

So, there ya have it.  My predictions for next year.  Be sure to drop me a note in the comments and let me know your thoughts.  And thank you as always for being a part of the HR Bartender community.  Cheers!

Image courtesy of Daniel Voyager


  1. says

    These are all good! I would predict conference attendance to be down, too, and virtual conferences (& the use of technology) to be UP — but conference organizers have been telling me that advance ticket sales are up and that interest in the traditional conferences (in our industry) is much stronger than 2009 (the bad year).

    I wonder if the word for 2011 will be “connection” — and I wonder if the word will take multiple forms.

    You’ve got me thinking!

  2. says

    Thoughtful predictions. I actually think conference attendance will be up across the board – my only area of disagreement. Software sales are already stronger in the fourth quarter – and I think that’s a leading indicator for 2011. May I add to your predictions? I think Rewards & Recognition will be the fastest growth solutions category in HR because it feels like the fastest fix for a bad employer brand. My hope for 2011 is that everything gets better across the board! Maybe if we hope hard enough ….

  3. says

    @Laurie – Thanks for the comment! I agree virtual conferences will have appeal because of their flexibility and value proposition. It’s perfectly understandable to see an increase in early registrations – all cost driven – the real proof will be in the final numbers.

    And I wonder if “connection” was the word for 2010? Lots of people wanting to connect who will want to leverage those connections in 2011.

    @Bret – Thanks for the comment. I can’t help but think that companies have been holding off making major purchases for the last couple years and they just can’t wait any longer. Which is why you’re seeing a spike in purchases for software sales.

    I’m intrigued by the rewards and recognition prediction. Will be interesting to see how people define it – is it Lucite statues and t-shirts or investments into training, compensation and benefits? The latter is a win-win-win.

  4. says

    Good Insight! Totally agree. When economy is tough, people tend to do more with less and do their best to be productive. Innovation has always been the driver in these economic conditions.

  5. says

    Great list. I totally agree with Family Unit and Social Learning.
    The idea of Corporate Universities is intriguing. I have seen this is some major companies and love the idea. I think there will be more in-house training and learning, maybe bringing in experts to speak.
    But I hope that employers still realize the importance of training and development. I have still been hearing of people getting laid off, being told “training and development is the first to go.”
    How does that perception change?

  6. says

    Hi Sharlyn,

    Well written (and well-reasoned) predictions! I think that most of your arguments are spot-on (for what that’s worth).

    Like Bret, I think that conference attendance will be up (relative to 2008-09)… and, to echo Laurie, I think 2009 will be perceived as a “bad” year relative to the next few.

    If I may propose a word for 2011… “stability.” I think that word – and concept – won’t permeate the business world until perhaps late Q2… but at that point its impact will become readily identifiable and significantly influential across industries (good news for purchase decisions, people investments, etc).

    I’ve already taken my turn looking to the future with specific predictions (WorkForce Software blog)… so I’ll spare your readership!

  7. says

    @Satish –I’ve been conducting a workshop over the past couple days and can’t tell you how many times participants mentioned innovation. Thanks for the comment and insight.

    @Diana – It’s unfortunate but there does appear to be some truth to the saying when times are tough, training is one of the first things to get cut. But I believe more organizations are seeing the impact this has on the operation and employee morale. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

    @Jonathan – Thanks for sharing. I can see where conference attendance might be up compared to the “bad years” but not sure that it will be at the levels it should relative to the recovering economy. And, I could see stability being a key word in the latter half of 2011 – maybe once a person or company gets that opportunity…they will be looking for stability.

    Hope you don’t mind me adding the link to your predictions…