Top Workplace Trends for 2016

Our intrepid board of advisors* spend a lot of time thinking about issues that impact organizations and their workers.  When we met in Boston in December for a board meeting, we talked about our observations and predictions for the workplace trends that will dominate discussions in 2016.  Did we get it right?  We won’t know for a year.  But you can let us know by commenting on this post below.

  1. It’s All About Bob(bie): The Year of Talent – The improved economy, aggressive recruiting practices, and websites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn have all contributed to a dynamic shift in the employer-employee relationship. Talented workers have more leverage than ever before, and it is nearly impossible for an organization to hide its true corporate culture from job candidates. Progressive organizations understand that the only sustainable business model is to ensure they have the right talent, in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills. The C-suite will be more directly involved in talent management strategies in 2016 with a focus on winning with engaged employees.
  2. Compliance, Regulation, and Workers’ Rights Take Center Stage in an Election Year – As the Obama Administration enters its final year and the spotlight on workers’ rights shines brighter around the world, government regulation around paid time off, overtime, minimum wage, healthcare, schedule fairness, family leave, and more will put increased pressure on organizations to maintain compliance. Organizations large and small will require tools and technologies to juggle different regulations across cities, states, and countries where they do business while ensuring employees are treated fairly within the law with the ability to generate reports that prove compliant practices to avoid fines and penalties.
  3. Employee Self-service, Mobile, and Scheduling Technologies Empower the Worker as Regulations Tighten – As the consumerization of workforce management technology marches on and the focus on workers’ rights increases, 2016 will see wider adoption of employee self-service, mobile, and intelligent scheduling technologies that empower the worker while unburdening managers. Employees will have tools to take more ownership of their schedules, while smarter technologies will support greater equity in staffing models. Additionally, the growth of the freelance economy will increase the need for white collar workforce features. However, as these technologies are implemented to balance productivity, compliance, and fairness, expect increased government scrutiny on how workforce management innovations are used in the workplace.
  4. Organizations Invest in the Next Generation of Leaders – Organizations that have not begun investing in their next generation of leaders will feel the sting in 2016. The exodus of Baby Boomers continues as Millennials and Gen Xers represent the growing majority of the workforce. Many of these younger workers will begin managing older colleagues who have more experience. Leadership development, succession planning, and training programs that tackle the skills shortage will be major themes in 2016 as an increasing number of organizations will invest more in middle management to ensure they can properly hire, coach, and motivate their employees.  
  5. Unique Benefits Emerge as a Competitive Advantage – The talent-first focus in 2016 will cause many organizations to rethink and retool their benefits strategies to create a competitive advantage in the war for talent. Since benefits will be used to attract and retain the most diverse and multigenerational workforce in history, there will be an emergence of unique benefits that target employees at different stages of their lives, from student loan repayment programs, unlimited vacation, and paid time off for hourly workers to expanded parental leave, child care support, retirement assistance, and medical benefits that help care for aging parents.

*The Workforce Institute’s board members are: David Almeda, chief people officer, Kronos Incorporated; Bob Clements, senior vice president, Axsium Group; David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research; China Gorman, human capital management consultant, speaker, and writer, former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute, and former COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); John Hollon, vice president for editorial, TLNT.com and ERE Media; Sharlyn Lauby, The HR Bartender and president, ITM Group, Inc.; Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos; Susan Meisinger, SPHR, JD, columnist, speaker, and consultant on executive management issues, and former president and CEO, SHRM; Jeanne C. Meister, founding partner, Future Workplace, and best-selling author; Dennis Miller, chief employment officer, Cal Poly Pomona Foundation; Neil Reichenberg, executive director, IPMA-HR; Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and partner and research director, Future Workplace; and Mark Wales, vice president of workforce management.

Read our book, It’s All About Bob/bie – Strategies for Winning With Your Employees.  The board of the Workforce Institute at Kronos share their recommendations about how to create and engaged workforce who will drive better results for your organization.

5 thoughts on “Top Workplace Trends for 2016

  1. The one trend we didn’t get in the list is the ongoing realization about how much work can be better done by freelancers rather than full time employees. The natural reaction is to fear this means replacing “great jobs” with “lousy precarious work”, but it can equally mean replacing “lousy jobs” with “great free agent work”.

    The really amazing thing is how much this new model upsets our existing thinking about talent. Often the best talent for a task is someone outside the organization and so the whole relationship with them is different from the parent-child model that governs the traditional employment contract.

    (And I’d be negligent not to plug my own book with Boudreau & Jesuthasan “Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment”.)

  2. As we look at possible 2016 trends, we should all copy these and keep them to compare with what actually happened when we get to the end of 2016.

    A lot of these will happen as forecast, and while some may not, what is always most interesting is what major trends pop up that no one saw coming on January 1.

    The key is to plan for what you can but to stay flexible, because there will undoubtedly be some significant trends popping up that we don’t see coming but will have to deal with nonetheless.

  3. The projections are great but they as usual are directed at the salaried workforce and not the 67% of those workers who are hourly.
    Two of the biggest challenges that business are going to face are.
    1. Finding and retain talented front line workers.
    2. Business that are going to thrive are going to have to change their hiring practice and hire more for talent than for present skill level and two provide more training.

  4. As I was reading the post, it occurred to me that “talent” is becoming a very broad term. Organizations have hourly talent, salaried talent and freelance talent. It will be interesting to see if these predictions hold true for all talent or only certain groups.

  5. It will be interesting to see the role of HR departments in assisting their organizations in addressing these trends. A recently released survey by the CIPD in Great Britain found that among British employees, 25% said they don’t know what HR does and 48% reported having no contact with HR in the past year.

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