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2018 Global Workplace Trends

Today's post is from Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos.

As we have for the past few years, we asked our board members to predict the 2018 global workplace trends that will be on practitioners' minds this year.   You can watch a video of their individual predictions here.  We've synthesized those individual predictions into five key themes below.

As has been the case in recent years, we continue to predict a growing focus on employee experience as a means of acquiring and retaining great workers.  We've also predicted the growing importance of people analytics and leadership development in the past.  New this year are predictions related to artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace and the accelerating workplace impact of Boomer retirement.

Check out our predictions below and let us know what we got right and wrong by commenting on this post.  Happy New Year to you all!

Workforce Institute Board Predictions for 2018:

  1. Top organizations treat employee engagement as a financial strategy with a creative focus on the employee experience. We've devoted billions of dollars to chasing the white whale of employee engagement - yet engagement has remained stagnant worldwide for decades. Worse, many C-level leaders are questioning the ROI of culture-driven investments on the bottom line. HR must change their vernacular to better connect engagement with business challenges while using operational data to show how engagement is financially driven (e.g. better productivity, fewer customer escalations, optimal scheduling, retention of top performers). Simultaneously, to attract and retain the best talent, employers must weigh all the different “currencies” accepted by today's workers (e.g. pay, benefits, flexibility, learning and development, work environments, meaningful connection to the business, people, and the community), while thinking creatively about the entire employee experience lifecycle, matching expectations during the recruiting phase all the way through succession planning.
  2. Employee appetite for accessible, applicable workplace data grows. Outside the workplace, people expect fast and easy access to information of all kinds - from what nearby restaurants have the highest reviews to which recommended television shows to binge next. Yet when they get to work, good, valuable information across their organization can be hard to access and near impossible to process in order to make an informed decision in the moment. Employers are increasingly expected to provide a consumer-grade technology experience in the workplace with one-touch access to information that helps employees - both laptop-toting and frontline workers - work smarter and work their way.
  3. They're here: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for HR and operations. Workforce management and HCM innovation has simplified the delivery of data intelligence to help solve real business problems that directly impact an employee's daily work routine. AI can dramatically speed up time-consuming, everyday tasks while proactively identifying potential compliance risks and employee burnout concerns before they become a problem. Machine learning algorithms deliver better forecasting while enabling technology to act as a digital consultant. Managers and employees alike must be properly trained to strategically utilize and, above all, trust this unprecedented ability to mine information, while transforming their daily responsibilities to accomplish more strategic tasks they didn't have the time to complete before.
  4. A focus on the human side of leadership. As innovations in workforce management and HR technology increasingly automate daily tasks, managers have more time to interact with employees than ever before. Yet many people managers are lost with these newfound opportunities for human interaction thanks to historically weak manager onboarding programs combined with years of hiding behind devices, remote work, and mountains of administrative tasks. Since people managers are the number one driver of the employee experience and, in turn, productivity, organizations must focus on programs to help managers forge relationships, develop their people, and build the courage it takes to be a great leader.
  5. Retirement moves from a casual conversation to a full-blown crisis. Organizations aren't prepared for the loss of inherent knowledge as thousands of Baby Boomers retire each day. Many Boomers plan to ease into retirement by working part-time hours or taking on an entirely new, lower-paying job with more meaning. Many more retirement-aged employees aren't financially capable of leaving the workforce. The perfect storm of these trends will challenge organizations to test their succession planning, deliver meaningful roles to employees sun-setting their careers, and maintain productivity and engagement of employees who are continuing to work because they can't afford to retire.

The Board Members contributing to the 2018 Workforce Institute at Kronos predictions include:

David Almeda, chief people officer of Kronos Incorporated; Veronica Baz, founder of and former general director of the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC) in Mexico; Natalie Bickford, group HR director at Merlin Entertainments; Bob Clements, senior principal at Axsium Group; David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research; John Frehse, senior managing partner at Ankura Consulting Group, LLC; China Gorman, a human capital management consultant, speaker, and writer who is former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute and former COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); John Hollon, editor at, award-winning journalist, and nationally recognized expert on leadership, talent management, and smart workforce practices; Sharlyn Lauby, The HR Bartender and president of ITM Group, Inc.; Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos; Dennis Miller, chief employment officer at Cal Poly Pomona Foundation; Neil Reichenberg, executive director of IPMA-HR; Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and partner and research director at Future Workplace; and Mark Wales, workforce management industry advisor.

For a full list of Workforce Institute Advisory Board Members from the Americas, Europe, and China, please visit

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