The uncertainty of work life in the future raises lots of questions and anxiety. Will we still have blue-collar and white-collar jobs? Will automation create a mechanical workforce augmented by human creativity and contribution? Will remote employees become the norm?
No one knows for sure what will motivate workers in 10, 20, or 30 years, but knowing where we are today – and planning for what we think will happen tomorrow – will help us face the future with confidence.
Where We Are Today
There’s more talk than ever about the Millennial generation. Why? Because Millennials are rapidly becoming the largest concentration of workers. The balance of workplace power is shifting. Despite this shift, drivers for talent acquisition and management remain the same among all generations. Everyone wants to:
- Make a difference
- Be valued
Along with these drivers, all workers expect:
- Trustworthy leaders
Where You Should Be Headed
Attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent requires recognizing – and responding to – employees’ needs to remain competitive and relevant.
The seven trends below are areas you can focus on now to make an impact today while also positioning your organization for the future – no matter what it brings.
- Non-Hierarchical Workplace
A shift in traditional career-path advancement recognizes careers of achievement – where people are happy in the jobs they’re doing and don’t want to be promoted into jobs they don’t really want or may not be suited for. Today’s employees believe they should be able to earn more compensation, credibility, and/or power for continued contributions to their role.
- Transparent Organizations that Foster Trust
A younger workforce that grew up sharing their lives on social media is demanding that employers be open and honest about company information. As a result, more companies are sharing financial information with employees. The more transparent your company is, the more your employees trust you. One of the most significant contributors to an organization’s success is trust. Employees who perceive their companies as fair, dependable, and competent have a higher level of trust and are more willing to work hard.
- Highly Collaborative, with Remote and Flexible Workplaces
Workplace collaboration has always been important, but it has become increasingly so as more businesses offer telecommuting and remote work options. Whether remote or in office, benefits of collaboration include better organization and delegation of tasks, improved progress tracking, and increased productivity. Consider what positions you have that could be handled remotely or with a flexible schedule.
- Culture of Ongoing Feedback
The need for continual feedback tends to be associated with Millennials, but it’s actually important to every generation. Employees who don’t receive the feedback they want will likely look elsewhere for work. Effective feedback doesn’t have to be a formal process. Supplement formal meetings with informal conversations, emails, texts, and IMs, and include peer-to-peer conversations.
- Physical Amenities to Fit Needs
Your company will be viewed as innovative and have higher-performing employees when you offer options for how and where they can work. This doesn’t mean wiping offices out and starting from scratch – instead, it means determining the environment that works best for your workforce. Community tables and open spaces foster creative environments, but employees who need to focus for productivity need their own desks and private meeting spaces.
- Personal Development
Employees respond to a positive coach who can make a difference in their success. Millennials, in particular, view their managers as their No. 1 source of personal development – and they want that more than managerial direction. They want managers who will inspire them, surround them with great people, and be authentic in their interactions. Sharing struggles and successes goes a long way toward being approachable and becoming a role model.
- Sense of Belonging
If an employee doesn’t feel like he or she is part of the team, they’ll likely be looking to leave your company. As an employer, you need to embrace and celebrate a diverse workforce that brings different skills and perspectives to finding solutions. Build relationships across differences, and enforce anti-discrimination and harassment policies.
Maintaining Your Competitive Edge
A challenge for most companies today is being able to scale rapidly while maintaining an innovative edge. The main obstacles to rapid responsiveness are:
- Slow decision-making
- Conflicting departmental goals and priorities
- Risk-averse cultures
- Silo-based information
These innovation must-haves ensure your company’s agility:
- Risk-taking: By giving employees space and autonomy to develop and contribute ideas, you can create a culture where risk-taking is encouraged. Provide employees with goals to work toward on their own, and check in and offer guidance without micro-managing.
- Learning agility: Take risks, then learn from experiences. An agile workforce is made up of employees who can be re-skilled quickly to meet new company goals and strategies based on industry trends. Cross-functional teams with employees who have different skill sets allow the team to benefit from cross-departmental knowledge and come up with insightful, out-of-the-box ideas.
How does your organization need to change today to evolve and stay competitive for the future?
No one has a crystal ball to show us what tomorrow’s workplace will look like, but these practices can serve as pillars for your company’s business success today – and into the future. -Jill Silman Chapman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, MS-HRM at Insperity, an NSCA Business Accelerator