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Future of Work Initiative

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Today, the workplace, work, and workforce are changing more rapidly than ever before. Around the world, the workplace and work are impacted by new technologies, and the combined pace of automation and globalization. Employers and their workforces are confronting complex and emerging issues, such as changing employment patterns and relationships, recruitment and retention in competitive labor markets, an aging workforce, gender and racial inequalities, and job loss due to technological innovations. The careful balancing of all these occupational safety and health issues is needed to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the future of work.

To that end, in 2019, NIOSH launched the Future of Work Initiative, applying Total Worker Health® principles that encourage collaboration across the spectrum of organizational policies, programs, and practices. The NIOSH Future of Work Initiative is a collective effort of transdisciplinary research, and communication throughout NIOSH, other government agencies, and organizations. It aims to identify new research solutions, practical approaches, and partnership opportunities to address the future of work for the nation.

The four goals of the NIOSH Future of Work Initiative are to:

  • compile studies on the future of work;
  • feature current and relevant research projects;
  • promote research among new industries, technologies, organizational design, job arrangements, risk profiles, and ways to control risks; and
  • connect trends in workplace, work, and workforce changes to prepare for the future of occupational safety and health.
NIOSH Future of Work Initiative Priority Topics

This illustration shows NIOSH’s current future of work priority topics and sub-topics for the workplace, work, and workforce.

Note: issues that impact all three categories include emergency and disaster preparedness and response, exposures and hazards, extreme weather conditions, globalization, industry 4.0, OSH 4.0, policies, politics, resources, and social disruption.

Learn more about the NIOSH Future of Work Initiative in its foundational paper.