Workplace Trends: Increasing Employee Engagement

As the US economy continued to grow in 2016, employers added more jobs and competition for jobs increased. By the end of the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 5.5 million unfilled jobs. Part of that is due to a skills mismatch and part to competition for a finite number of workers. What do employers need to do to fill all of these openings? I did some research on workplace trends that will hopefully attract workers to these jobs.

Generation Y and Z

The median tenure with an employer is currently 4.6 years. Among millennials, the statistic is 2.8 years. Millennials are concerned about respect and about doing great work. They are more confident in their skills and switch employers when they don’t feel respected or feel that their work is not meaningful. Employers will need to combat this with more transparency. Instead of rolling out new policies, companies will also need to explain the rationale behind the decisions. Better yet, employees should be involved in policy making. Generation Y and soon to follow Generation Z, are both tech savvy so it will be harder in the future to not be transparent. If you don’t believe me, look at Glassdoor.com to see what current and past employees are saying about your company.

 Employee Experience

In recent years, we have used data analytics to increase our knowledge about customers, potential customers, and even suppliers. This year, companies are turning the lens inward to observe employee experience and satisfaction. IBM has been developing people analytics tools as a marketable product and for use in their own workforce. Human resource (HR) departments are able to do predictive analysis on employee satisfaction and hopefully reduce dissatisfaction and excessive turnover. It reminds me of the movie “Minority Report” where there was a method of predicting when a crime would occur and the police stopped the crime before it happened. Perhaps HR can swoop in and persuade a key employee not to leave the organization since it costs a lot more to replace than retain one. HR departments are changing to meet organizational needs, and people analytics is one tool they will be using more in the future.

Blended Workforce

The gig or freelance economy has grown over the last few years, but the emphasis this year will be on blending these contractors with a traditional workforce. Freelancers work on discrete, time-based jobs or projects and then move on after the job is complete. Websites such as Taskrabbit facilitate this. If the trend continues, employers will need to figure out how to blend short-term contractors, who generally make more money, and full time employees who get benefits on top of a salary. They serve different purposes toward the same goal and they often work side by side, particularly on technical jobs such as coding. How do you reward and retain loyal employees who work alongside those who have no loyalty and are hired for a specific task?

Thoughts

These are just some of the trends that employers will be working through in 2017. Some can be aided by technology but most are a matter of attracting and retaining a talented and dedicated workforce in a competitive market.

What other workplace trends do you see for 2017? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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