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How the Workplace Is Changing in 2018 (And How You Can Keep Up)

Posts by Abby Quillen By
May 7, 2018

The economy, technological innovations, and cultural shifts are changing work in 2018. For instance, the oldest members of Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2005, are graduating from college and stepping into the workplace for the first time this year. As the most diverse and digitally savvy generation in American history, their wants and needs will undoubtedly incite change.

Read on to understand key ways the current work climate is shifting, and learn what your business needs to do to keep up.

Qualified Workers are in Demand

The unemployment rate is below 5% and expected to remain there for a while. Around one quarter (22%) of small businesses say a shortage of qualified workers is their top business concern in 2018.

Because of the tight labor market, employers are becoming more innovative in recruiting and retaining employees, especially millennial employees. That’s because that group now makes up the majority of the American workforce. Millennials value work-life balance, career mobility, flexible working conditions, and social responsibility. Gen Z, on the other hand, want independence, face-to-face communication, and for employers to cater to them. Some companies hire Directors of Employee Experience to improve the working experience of their employees.

How to keep up: You may need to adjust your hiring standards and devote more resources to recruiting, training, and retaining workers. Also consider raising wages: In surveys, company leaders say they plan to raise wages by an average of 3 to 4.27% in 2018.

Perks don’t hurt either. Nearly half of millennials in one survey said they could be lured to a new job by a company that offered better perks, including free food.

Automation Is Disrupting Some Industries

The research firm Forrester predicts 9% of U.S. jobs—particularly administrative, call-center, and sales jobs—will be replaced by automation this year. They predict those losses will be partially offset by a 2% increase in automation-related jobs. Other think tanks and research firms have made wildly different guesses based on the available studies. Gartner Inc., another research company, predicts artificial intelligence (AI) will create more jobs overall than it destroys.

The bottom line? Some people may lose their jobs because of automation—even this year. Many more workers will need to adjust to AI tools, such as chatbots, which enable personalized conversations between software and users. But the good news is, AI tools may make some jobs easier and free up employees from administrative or repetitive tasks and allow for more creative work.

How to keep up: Reassure employees that automation is unlikely to lead to a jobless future. McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank, predicts there will be enough work for humans to ensure full employment in 2030. In the past, new technologies such as the personal computer led to a net increase in jobs. However, jobs will shift. If automation is reshaping your industry, keep your employees well-informed about retraining opportunities.

With more machines in the workplace, social relationships matter as much as ever. Cultivate a company culture that promotes in-person interaction and collaboration.

Workers Will Challenge Traditional Structures

Remote work (excluding self-employed occupations) has grown by 115% since 2005, according to the analytics firm Global Workplace Analytics. In the U.S., more than 43% of the workforce works remotely some of the time, according to a Gallup report.

Millennials and Generation Z will continue to pressure companies to expand flexible scheduling and telecommuting options. More than three quarters (77%) of millennials in one survey said flexible working hours would make them more productive on the job. Some companies, such as Buffer, have transitioned from a physical office to 100% remote work to save costs.

How to keep up: The commute and nine-to-five day aren’t dead yet, and a few companies (including Yahoo and IBM) ended their telecommuting programs for various reasons. But it’s worth considering whether expanding flexible scheduling perks may help your company attract and retain top talent. If you already offer flexible work, consider stepping up team-building efforts by offering catered family-style meals or a shared collaboration area to give employees more time for team work when they’re in the office.

Conclusion

The American workplace is changing quickly. By embracing economic, technological, generational, and cultural shifts, your business will thrive in 2018 and beyond.

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