Over the past few years, workplaces have been gradually trending in two seemingly opposite directions: becoming increasingly digital and, at the same time, more employee friendly. Except for the most forward-thinking among us, companies have moved tenuously in experimenting with new policies that would have at one time been considered laughable. These new trends are now becoming inevitable and an essential part of “best company” cultures.
If you’ve been dragging your feet during the recovery it’s time to rethink. As we enter 2017, we’re essentially at full employment across the country, and in many areas the demand for skilled workers exceeds their availability. This jobs market is a game changer. It’s time to let go of whatever is holding you back and embrace the recruiting trends that will help attract and retain the people who will build your future. Put your unique cultural stamp on these major 2017 trends.
Pick up any article about 2017 workforce trends and you’ll see phrases like: social media recruiting; digital learning, and training; big data and analytics; augmented and virtual reality, real-time feedback; snapchat branding—and the list goes on. Although it can be hard to decide where to spend your resources and energy, used effectively, these social, mobile, data, and cloud-driven technologies can make businesses of every size more efficient. Without these tools, it’s nearly impossible to catch the interest of tech-savvy Millennial and Gen Z candidates—or keep current employees engaged.
In addition to the more obvious benefits, adapting to digital workplace trends pushes us toward being more transparent and authentic in our recruiting practices. Today, when candidates or employees have a bad experience with a company, they can easily post about it online. You can prevent this kind of negative social media press by ensuring a positive experience through clear and frequent communications, genuinely showing respect for people’s time and effort, and flexibly meeting personal needs. Of course the opposite is also true. Candidates and employees can enhance your brand and reputation by posting about how well your company treats people.
No more keeping secrets or spinning news. Protecting your reputation today means being approachable, real and, above all, honest in all of your communications. Internal messaging easily becomes external.
Culture and employee engagement have become the buzzwords of the past few years. The truth is, they’ve always been important features of the best companies. As employees regain the driver’s seat in 2017, companies will need to develop more humane cultures that fully engage their people.
More humane means that, except in special circumstances, traditional hierarchical, rule-based cultures are on the way out. They no longer meet employee’s needs. Today’s employees want flexibility in where to work, when to work and whom they work with. This has generated a whole new vocabulary: job sharing, paid-time-off (PTO), telecommuting, family leave, unlimited vacation … People want teams rather than bosses, casual dress codes, more training and development, a purpose, more respect, and more heart from their companies. They want to be seen and respected as individuals with personal lives and interests that matter at least as much as their jobs. And don’t we all deserve that?
A bit of practical advice
At a minimum, consider the following as you find your place in the workplace realties of 2017 and beyond. Being both digital and humane are long-term trends.
- Culture and branding. Make sure that your changing culture reflects your values, traditions and beliefs. Today’s employees expect behaviors to match the ideals posted on lunchroom walls. Make your positive culture an important part of the brand you present to candidates and the market. Culture is a deciding factor for candidates and a key factor in retention.
- The employee experience. HR’s priorities have expanded beyond administrative function to creativity in developing onboarding, recognition, and engagement programs—all of which deeply impact financials.
- Flexible workplaces. Flexibility in every aspect of employment will continue to expand. What makes sense for you to offer employees? Be innovative in developing policies that meet both employee needs and your business goals.
- Leadership development. Train and develop leaders so that you retain some of the knowledge and skills your retiring workers have contributed. Succession plans are crucial as Baby Boomers leave the workplace.
- Millennials and Gen Z. The younger generations have much to learn, teach and contribute to your business. Understand their needs and meet them or they’ll trend elsewhere.
The companies that have seen us trending toward going digital and being human, and have responded creatively, are some of the most competitive and successful in the country. Blending the power of technology with the grace of humanity can only strengthen our workplaces. These trends give me great hope for a successful 2017.