Firms Plan for Emerging Roles

Prudential Financial Inc. is trying to prepare its people for roles that don’t exist — yet

Jim Harris, the company’s vice president of talent management, said the effort stems from the way the business climate keeps changing. As a result, Harris said companies like Prudential are putting more effort into defining what future jobs might be needed.

“Our new process calls for us to not only look at existing roles but emerging roles,” Harris said. “We are formally asking our leaders across the company to scan the horizon, to look at business strategy … and say, ‘What are the emerging positions that aren’t on the list right now?’”

Part of the process, Harris said, includes going back and looking at where the company was five years ago and studying how job roles have changed. With this history in mind, the company looks at current business issues and tries to plot out what skills or roles might arise in the coming years. Harris said it’s still too early to tell how effective the practice will ultimately be.

Even though trying to predict the future isn’t always successful in business, it appears Prudential has decided it’s less risky than doing nothing at all.