Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Alexandra Levit.

Given that I wrote a book about the rapid transformation of work as we knew it back in 2018, people often ask me what has surprised me about how human capital is evolving today. As a Workforce Institute Board Member, I’d like to share my topline thoughts, some of which have been derived as the result of quantitative research, and others that came about through engagement with organizations and futurist groups such as the Association of Professional Futurists (APF), the Future Today Institute, the Grey Swan Guild, and the foresight certification program I recently completed with the University of Houston.

The Acceleration of What We Saw Coming

Pandemic or no pandemic, several workforce-related trends were inevitable, including the rise of the gig economy, the contract workforce, internal talent marketplaces, and talent assembly – in which teams are constructed from different types of workers to solve specific problems in hot areas of the business.

We also surmised that organizations would begin to look closely at how human capital quantitatively drives business value; the use of Big Data, analytics, and executive dashboards to determine what is and isn’t working in talent acquisition, learning, scheduling, and performance; the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to combat unconscious bias and measure productivity; and the focus on data quality, integration, and governance.

The shift in the flow of work due to new players like Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon entering the online collaboration market was expected, as was the increasing popularity of curated learning content by in-house subject matter experts, personalized course recommendations, and targeted certifications and micro-credentialing. Given the technology available today, there is no reason individuals shouldn’t upskill and reskill using all the resources at their disposal, and at their own pace and convenience.

What Has Surprised Me

There have been a few head-scratchers along the way. The first involves digital transformation. It is a bit disappointing how, during the pandemic, some organizations have simply slapped in-office processes up online. That was fine for the first six months of the crisis, but now it’s time to move on. One size doesn’t fit all. We must permanently adapt certain processes to be antifragile and an effective mix of high tech, high touch.

Also, with respect to digital transformation, it surprises me that no one is talking about what we’ll do when we are entirely dependent on technology and it breaks, what happens when it gets seriously hacked, what happens when we have bandwidth challenges and access inequity, what happens when there are too many systems and usability and adoption falter, and what data and privacy concerns will arise with increased employee monitoring. In my opinion, these are issues that every company should be closely tracking.

While the labor shortages occurring as a result of demographic shifts like baby boomer retirement and smaller generational cohorts like X and Z were anticipated, organizational attitudes toward post-pandemic employee retention are not. Many companies are currently issuing decrees about exactly when people should return to the office and how and when they should work. After a successful 18-month trial of much greater flexibility, this is not going to fly with top (and increasingly rare) talent, and I fear a “great resignation” is about to take place.

Finally, I’m perplexed that more leaders aren’t acknowledging that they were caught completely off guard by the pandemic and are now engaging in strategic foresight to be adequately prepared for what’s certain to be future disruptions.

While we can’t predict the future, we have a responsibility to look around corners as best we can and plan for a variety of potential scenarios. I look forward to continuing to be part of this process!

FT_18.02.15_GenerationsBirths_projectedThe Millennials are increasingly in charge.  According to Pew Research Center analysis of US Census data, these Americans born from 1981-1996 will pass Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation by 2019.  This generation has already been the focus of countless books and opinion pieces attempting to explain who they are, the forces that shaped them, and what their impact on the world is likely to be.  In fact, I'll be doing a podcast next week with a couple of Millennial experts to talk about Millennials in management.

This week, though, I can't stop thinking about the generation right behind the Millennials.  Most commonly referred to as Generation Z, they are variously called Post Millennials, iGeneration, or Homeland Generation.

The oldest members of this generation were born in 1997.   They probably don't have a clear memory of 9/11, but most will have felt some impact from the Great Recession.  If they are attending college or planning to do so in the near future, they are likely worried about whether the benefits of that education will outweigh the attendant student loan debt. They never experienced the pre-internet world; i.e. the world before google became a verb. The majority carry a cellphone that delivers the internet on demand.  They don't debate the pros and cons of technology access any more than they'd challenge whether electricity is a good thing.

They have begun to enter the workforce - as the most tech savvy workers to date.  And according to this 2017 survey from Apprise Mobile and Google Consumer Surveys , some of their prospective managers are worried about what their impact will be.  Ironically, managers in this study from the frequently maligned Millennial cohort were the most worried, with 20% indicating they thought Gen Z would have a negative impact on their organization's culture.

Concerns expressed in this survey and elsewhere often focus on whether this generation can separate themselves from their ever present screens long enough to communicate with coworkers.  This week, we saw many middle and high school aged Gen Z'ers march out of classrooms across the US to demand action from Congress to make their schools safe from gun violence.   While they are leveraging social media to organize, they are making their voices heard loud and clear in public places across the country.  In this one clear instance, they certainly looked up from their screens to confront what they feel is a need for change head on.  

From the 1912 Bread and Roses strike for fair wages and better work conditions to the movements for civil and womens' rights to the  Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, workers who've spoken up for change have made workplaces better for everyone.  Welcome, Gen Z.  Bring it on.

Photo Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

WFITopPosts2016And just like that, 2016 is [almost] behind us.

A lot has happened in 2016, in and out of the workplace. But when it comes to topics we covered on this blog, you all had some specific areas of interest. Some of the topics you found most interesting this year included the FLSA overtime changes; employee engagement tips and best practices; part two of our survey regarding how managers, employees, and HR differ when it comes to who owns company culture; and how the SuperBowl affects the workforce the day after the big game, to name a few.

As you enjoy your well-deserved holiday downtime, we hope you'll take a few minutes to read through the top 10 most popular posts we published here at The Workforce Institute in 2016.  And if you have topics you'd like us to write about in 2017 - or even better, if you're interested in contributing to this blog yourself - please let us know by commenting on this post.

Thank you to all of our guest authors in 2016, and Happy New Year!

In the finale episode of "1 in One Hundred Million," see how Paul found his rhythm as a cymbal maker to the stars:


Like many musicians, Paul was waiting for his big break. When it didn't come quick enough, his parents urged him to get a day job - so he headed to Zildjian Cymbals to put his passion to work. His first day on the job wasn't exactly a dream come true, though - “the first day,” he recalls, “I literally swept the factory floor.”

Fast forward 28 years to today, and Paul knows cymbal-making inside out. He creates cymbals that bring the world's top drummers' distinctive sounds to life - in fact, he's something of a cymbal-maker to the stars: Journey's Steve Smith, Aerosmith's Joey Kramer, Santana's Dennis Chambers, and hundreds more top artists swear by his cymbals.

Click here to view the entire award-winning series of "1 in One Hundred Million." 

flying"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." -Benjamin Franklin

When you hear the phrase "exchange program," what comes to mind? You may immediately think of student exchange programs - opportunities for those still in school to experience a new country while pursuing their degree. But learning in a new-to-you country doesn't have to end once you have your diploma  - traveling abroad for work is also a huge learning experience, no matter what level you may be on the corporate totem pole.

Last year, Kronos launched a Marketing Exchange Program, giving qualified Kronos marketing employees all over the world the opportunity to spend two weeks in another Kronos location. Interested Kronites nominate themselves, and one employee per quarter is chosen by their manager based on several criteria. Travel, accommodations, and meals during their two weeks away are all provided by Kronos.

In addition to being able to explore a new country, Kronites also choose three learning objectives ahead of time that they'd like to explore in their new location. They're also assigned an on-the-ground mentor to facilitate their stay - and that same "buddy" will be who the Kronite works with on a specific project related to their career. Upon their return to their "home base," the employee presents his or her key learnings to management.

This program has already proven to be a major win for all parties involved: the Kronite traveling abroad gets to explore another country while advancing their career; the Kronos office they visit can benefit from the additional assistance and perspective; and Kronos as a whole grows thanks to the employees' growth and expanded knowledge, further contributing to our overall business objectives.

Does your company offer a similar program? Or are you thinking of implementing one? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As Director of New Product Innovation at Xenith, Kyle is clear-eyed about the real-life implications of his work: “There's really high stakes in everything we do,” he says.


Day-to-day, Kyle could be working in 3D CAD on his computer, hand-building prototypes, or checking helmets in the test lab. And all the while, Kyle is tapping into his own experiences on the field and his own run-ins with head trauma that left him determined to innovate a safer way for athletes to enjoy the sports they love so much.

Click here to see more from our award-winning "1 in One Hundred Million" series.

employeeburnoutWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding employee burnout and fatigue in the workplace. A number of thought leaders weighed in on how burnout affects employees and their employers; best practices on how to help prevent employee burnout/fatigue; how technology plays a role; and more.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We'd love to know what you think about this topic - tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.


The following guest post was written by Jenn Ardery, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Kronos. Thanks, Jenn!

Employee burnout, that state in which individuals feel overwhelmed, at their wits' end, and unsure where to turn, is becoming a serious issue for organizations. According to Aptitude Research Partners' Study, organizations that have above average rates of employee burnout are 66% more likely to lose top performers than their competitors.

An organization's success depends on retaining an engaged, skilled, and productive workforce. But with so many variables that can influence engagement efforts and retention rates, how do you know where to focus your energy?

Organizations should rethink how Workforce Management (WFM) and Human Capital Management (HCM) processes and tools impact employees and give them choices that help avoid burnout before it's too late.

Please join us on Wednesday, August 3rd at 12 PM ET to chat about how your organization is impacted by burnout and to learn ways to resolve it.  Kronos Inc. (@KronosInc) will announce the Tweet Chat by asking:

Q1: When thinking about employee burnout, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Q2: 81% of US salaried employees work outside their standard work hours. Is the 40-hour work week a thing of the past? Why?

Q3: A 2015 @Glassdoor survey found that US employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time. Why do you think that is?

Q4: 75% perceive employee absences as impacting productivity/revenue. How do absences impact burnout?

Q5: Technology is changing our workplace. How can it help us in terms of employee fatigue/burnout?

Q6: Data is crucial in helping to ID issues. What data do you find most helpful in aiding to prevent employee fatigue/burnout?

Q7: How and how much do you think burnout affects retention?

Q8: How can organizations create a culture of awareness around employee burnout and promote work/life balance?

Q9: Why is preventing employee burnout good for business?

Q10: What are some effective ways to prevent employees from burning out?

What's a Twitter Chat? 

Three Tools for Twitter Chats

If ever there were a perfect union of education and passion, Briana Francisco nailed it when she put her science degrees to work in the craft beer industry:


As a fan of complex brews, Briana found her post-college calling when she landed a job at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. In fact, Briana was so sure of her path, she packed up her life in Minnesota and headed to Deschutes sight-unseen – and she doesn't regret it for a second. The “fun science” of beer keeps Briana engaged, challenged, and committed to creating consistently delicious beers.

Want to see more inspiring career stories like Briana's? Subscribe to Kronos' award-winning 1 in One Hundred Million series to receive updates when a new story is posted.

SmartphoneThe following guest post was written by John Hollon, a member of The Workforce Institute Advisory Board and Vice President for Content at Checkster. Thanks, John!

I don't have a lot of pet peeves, but there is one that really pushes my buttons.

It's people who think they can do something else while they're texting or talking on their smartphone.

Believe me when I tell you, they can't.

We know people can't properly drive (or text) while on a smartphone, but in my experience, they can't walk and work on a phone either. I know this because several times a week I nearly run over someone at the gym or the supermarket who is so distracted by their phone that they blindly walk into the path of a moving vehicle.

So, I wasn't surprised by this recent CareerBuilder survey that detailed just how much smartphones are sapping employee productivity on the job.

It found that that 83 percent of employees have smartphones, and 82 percent of those with smartphones keep them within eye contact at work. And while only 10 percent of those with smartphones say it's decreasing their productivity at work, 2 in 3 (66 percent) say they use it (at least) several times a day while working.

Well, there seems to be a slight difference of opinion about how much those smartphones are distracting employees from their work. Yes, only 10 percent of workers think they are distracting, but a whopping 55 percent of managers listed cell phones and texting as the No. 1 productivity killer for employees.

Clearly, workers and managers have a different take on how smartphones impact the amount of work getting done.

“While we need to be connected to devices for work, we're also a click away from alluring distractions from our personal lives, like social media and various other apps,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “The connectivity conundrum isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be managed.”

Workplaces are continually evolving, and as this survey makes clear, what constitutes distracting smartphone behavior is up for debate. Employees see this as a minor issue, while managers are a lot more troubled by it.

But, it's sort of like the people on their smartphones who don't see me backing up or driving by in the parking lot - they'll probably be arguing that their phones aren't a distraction as they're rolling under the wheels of my car.

Yes, one person's distraction is another person's problem. That's why it's probably time we get a better handle on how smartphones should be handled in our workplaces.

Millennials2016 (2)The following guest post was written by Peter Harte, managing director of Kronos Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia. Thanks, Peter! 

Self-centered, lazy, and _too big for their boots' are words commonly used about Millennials. On the other hand, so are socially conscious and collaborative. The traits of Millennials have been written about ad nauseam. By all accounts, Millennials are a worldwide workplace epidemic - but should tactics to manage this generation differ by country?

To find out, we undertook a study in Australia to understand how managers can harness positive Millennial traits and navigate perceived downfalls. We surveyed 600 Australian employees with 50% of the sample being made up of Millennials and 25% made up of Generation X and Baby Boomers, respectively, to find out what motivates them.

While known for job hopping, we found that Millennials are more open to managerial discussion when we dug deeper. Only 19% said there was nothing an employer could have done to prevent their departure.

And what could be done? Flexible benefits, an increase in pay, or a promotion were all cited as effective levers by Millennials. Interestingly though, an open conversation about potential could deliver the same impact!

But what if you find out the employee's goals are not aligned with the company's, or worse, they are using this opportunity as a stepping stone to what they see as greener pastures?

I've outlined three possible conversations you could have with your Millennial employees to demonstrate you don't just care about them as an employee, but also as a person. Being open to their growth ideas could increase innovation through engagement.

1.) Be open to discussing their goals both inside and outside of the organization

Energy and productivity trump longevity when it comes to tenure, and 60% of Millennials had left an organization within a year of feeling they were no longer giving their best. Keeping them motivated and engaged while in your employment is critical, so find out what inspires them and how you can help.

Departing Millennials who leave on good terms will provide you with positive word of mouth. This may result in recommending possible candidates, or even becoming “boomerang” employees, returning to your organization themselves (which The Workforce Institute found that boomeranging is an increasing trend).

2.) Explore opportunities within the company

Two-thirds of Millennials say they'll stay at an employer as long as they are acquiring the skills and training they think will benefit their career, compared to a third of Generation X and 27% of Baby Boomers. Explore other opportunities within the company if it's time for them to move.

3.) Work together to uncover a solution or action plan that works for both parties

Millennials respond positively to personalized plans. Two-thirds (65%) say they'd have stayed longer if management had shown interest in them as an individual. Implementing a plan that shows clear progression and regular review points will satisfy their thirst for feedback and reward.

What do you think? Weigh-in by posting a comment below.

See how Dana Sue Kimbal and her team move 70,000 tons of ore every day in pursuit of silver in the latest episode of 1 in One Hundred Million:


Chances are, there's some silver within reach of you right now. It's ubiquitous - in our jewelry, coins, and solar panels. But as a miner and environmental manager, Dana Sue knows not to take it for granted. She knows exactly how hard-won a single ounce of silver is. And that's why she's so passionate about the teaching aspect of her job – educating the next generation of miners is as important to her as each day's dig.

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