The challenges leaders face are all critical but I would argue one of the most important involves the talent your organization attracts and retains. While there are multiple workforce trends facing leaders as we approach 2020, here are three key areas to ensure you have the talent necessary to compete.

Capabilities of Contractors
The Baby Boomers have officially been overtaken. As of 2015, Pew Research has indicated Millennials (those age 18-34) are now the largest living population. As such, it pays to know that these current and future employees don't intend to stick around too long. In fact 67% of those surveyed and highlighted in this Forbes article indicate they want to start their own business eventually.

As such, the future talent model will be a mix of traditional employees who value longer-term employment, those who come in and contribute for a couple of years and then move on to the next challenge and a large influx of professional contractors.

Contractors as part of your workforce warrant a specific talent strategy. This talent is either looking to test drive your organization or add to their portfolio of client companies. Not only will you need to know how to find these gems, but you'll also need the right projects, communication and pay to motivate them to take on your challenges vs. your competitors.

By utilizing contractors you will reap the benefits of having professionals on call who can flex with the changing economy, business cycles or pressing organizational need.

Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting is not mandated across all companies, but those who are focused on it now will see benefits to their profitability and talent which will catch the eye of all stakeholders, including your future employees.

IBM is a leader in this arena with their Corporate Service Corps program. A primary goal of IBM and other's programs is to further business objectives via corporate citizenship all the while building future leaders. The global nature of IBM's initiative also instills an understanding of how to conduct business in foreign countries, how to work with virtual teams and the importance of cultural nuances to leading multi-national groups.

In the coming years we will hear more about the "triple bottom line" or "people, planet and profits". Your reputation across all of these categories will come into play as your future talent looks at their options.

Employment Branding
Building a brand that the future workforce will embrace and trust is a combination of social responsibility outlined above, your culture and reputation.

Having a cohesive and comprehensive employment brand is critical now; and the only thing worse than a horrible brand is no brand. As you craft your brand, remember it has to be authentic and represent your culture. Nothing will kill you quicker than to spout all that is great about your organization only to have people get in and figure out it was all fluff.

The external brand and internal reality have to match.

Once you have your brand you must protect its reputation which involves listening and acting. MasterCard embodies this via their program called Conversation Suite. As described on their website it is:

"a dynamic, global insights and engagement engine that shifted the company from monitoring social and traditional media to applying purposeful listening to inform business decisions and foster more impactful communications."

Staying abreast of trends and deciphering which ones are most crucial for you organization should be top of mind for today's leaders.

To prepare for your future workforce you must begin molding it today.

Utilizing flexible workers, amping up your focus on corporate social responsibility and building or protecting your employment brand are three important elements to take action on now.

Published on: Mar 6, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.