Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, and the stores are already stocked with Holiday items ready for the buying. This means one thing: it’s time for year-end predictions – if you’re an early bird like me, that is. So here goes:
All economic indicators show a positive view of the U.S. economy in 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the unemployment rate will continue to decline from 4.3% in 2017 to 4.2% in 2017, with an overall projection of 20.5 million jobs being created by 2020. While a majority of occupations are projected to grow, those that will experience the fastest growth next year are healthcare, personal care, social assistance and construction. The workforce participation of older workers will increase, yet the overall labor force growth rate will decline by next year. U.S. salaries are predicted to increase from 3.1% in 2017 to 3.2% in 2018, and gross domestic product is expected to increase from 2.3% in 2017 to 2.5% in 2018.
Given these positive indicators and based on hundreds of conversations with executives and workers, a series of national and global online surveys and secondary research from more than 450 different research sources, including colleges, consulting firms, non-profits, the government and trade associations, my predictions are:
- Leaders will encourage more human interaction: Companies will continue to promote their workspaces and design them to facilitate interpersonal relationships between employees. While technology can make us more efficient, and feel highly connected to one another, it will never replace face-to-face conversations. Leaders who encourage personal connections will have more committed, satisfied and productive workers. IBM, Apple, and Google are all taking steps to bring employees back to the office where they can interact in person with each other.
- The next wave of learning credentials gains momentum: One of the most disrupted industries is education, with more third parties offering courses, credentials and certifications than ever before. There is now an abundance of online courses provided by LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, edX, Udemy, Udacity, The Khan Academy and others. Pew Research reports that self-directed learning is driving the need for new credentialing systems. More employees will be accepting different types of credentials as they seek to build diverse talent pools and expand their reach.
- Companies will focus on upskilling and retraining current workers: While the political discussion is focused on bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, and the news media continues to publish articles on how automation will eliminate jobs, what we should really be focused on is the growing skills gap. There are currently 6.2 million job openings in America that are unfilled, which is up from 5.6 million during the same time in 2016. Companies can’t find the right workers, that have the right skills, at the right time, which has slowed growth in the economy. Employers will be investing more money into their training and development programs in 2018 in order to fill their skills gaps and reach their full capacity.
- Artificial intelligence will become embedded in the workplace: The topic with the biggest buzz in HR circles is AI because there is both excitement and fear around the topic as it relates to how we do our jobs. Almost every new device and service will contain AI in the next few years. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and others are focused on creating smarter products using AI and there are now over one thousand AI vendors supporting all types of companies and people. As more employers see the efficiency benefits of AI, they will be adopted at a more rapid pace.
- Financial and mental wellness get prioritized: With 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck and student loan debt at over $1.4 trillion, workers are struggling and it’s affecting their health. Workers are stressed out, burned out and it’s affecting not only their productivity but their satisfaction on the job. Numerous companies including Fidelity, PwC, Aetna, Penguin Randomhouse and Chegg, are creating programs to help employees payback student loans to ease their financial burdens, and mental health, which has long carried a stigma in the workplace, is now becoming something that employers recognize and want to help manage.
Want more predictions for 2018? Check out my full list of 10 with additional examples and links to relevant research over at Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2017/11/01/10-workplace-trends-youll-see-in-2018/#4e8f54c64bf2
And tell me what you think about these and any other workforce predictions in the comments section!