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What’s coming to the workplace in 2019?

January 11, 2019

By Lori Stewart, SPHR®, SHRM-SCP, HCS, HR consulting partner at HKP

Happy New Year Dubuque and surrounding communities! It’s that time again where we stop to reflect on the past and consider the future. Typically, we’re asking: What will 2019 bring? But perhaps the question we need to ask instead is: What do we want and need 2019 to bring?

The answer to the first question may involve a Ouija board, the Magic 8-ball or a crystal ball. Not your best bet in considering evolving workplace challenges we will continue to face throughout 2019 and beyond. As far as the second question – what do we want/need? That is a question we can answer through planning, key objectives and the celebration of wins!

So, what do we know for sure?

Gen Z is coming! Born between 1997 and 2016, approximately 86 million Gen Zs will represent nearly 40% of all consumers by 2020. Your business needs to prepare in two ways – responding to their consumer needs and preparing your workplace to recruit this highly influential demographic. This generation’s unprecedented digital expertise and innate technical abilities are sure to bring an entirely new dynamic to your business. Are you ready?

Remote work relationships will continue to rise. There’s an interesting study conducted over a two-year span by Nicholas Bloom, Stanford economics professor: Despite the perception that employees will watch movies and goof-off while at home, Professor Bloom found the opposite to be true (www.nber.org/papers/w18871). Findings included financial gains from needing less real estate, a 50% reduction in attrition rates, increased productivity of 13.5%, shorter breaks, less sick time and less time off. Dr. Bloom suggests that the ideal situation provides an opportunity for employees to work from home at least 1-2 days per week.

Hiring will continue to be one of the most challenging aspects of running your business and there are no signs of this trend slowing. Companies successful in hiring top talent are becoming more creative in their “total compensation package” options. Work/life balance will continue to be the main focus for employees; however, companies need to recognize that may mean something different for every employee! Among the top trends we’re seeing are “volunteer” time off to fulfill philanthropic goals and help improve the communities in which we work; more flexibility; less emphasis on a standard 40-hour work week and more emphasis on productivity and satisfied employees.

Company culture will continue to be your most important marketing and branding tool.  The cost and length of time in recruiting is rising as well as the expense of losing trained employees. Retention and longevity will once again be important to recognize and reward. Diversity and inclusion will need to be at the forefront of your culture. While strategically planning for 2019 and future years, it’s important to consider if your work mindset is keeping up with the demands of candidates seeking the right employment to satisfy their professional and personal objectives. Employers will need to revisit what work is being done, ask themselves why it’s being done and if it is still relevant, consider whether there are more efficient ways to complete the work.

Speaking of efficiencies – Artificial intelligence, automation and analytics will dominate the entire workplace. Companies who are not planning, investing or considering these trends will find themselves lagging behind the competition.

Technology trends in workplace management will include on-demand training and development, talent acquisition, employee wellness, human capital management, and gathering specific and relevant data to use HR analytics in assisting you in making the right decisions pertaining to your most important asset – the employees who place their trust in you.

Perhaps in the past I might have said to buckle up and prepare yourselves for one heck of a ride. Today, however, I’m suggesting that you take a deep breath and dive in. If you haven’t already, begin conducting your own research as this article barely scratches the surface. One thing has remained constant over the decades spent in this field: With strategic planning, continuous evaluation and improvement, the desire to succeed and exceed, and a focus on happy and engaged employees – success will continue to come your way in 2019 and beyond!

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