How an aging workforce, workplace bullying, and professional training and development will affect the employment landscape in 2018
As 2018 begins, Allison & Taylor, the reference checking company, has identified five employment trends that will have significant implications for all employees and job seekers.
1. Working at home is on the decline as workplace well-being is prioritized. In 2017, Allison & Taylor noted that about one-third of global corporations offered workplace flexibility options such as working from home and the elimination of strict office hours.
However, this trend has now taken a downturn as many companies have discovered that when employees interact more with each other in physical environments, it can result in enhanced creativity and relationship building that lead to favorable outcomes.
Companies like Apple, having just completed a state-of-the-art world headquarters – have also concluded that while technology can make its employees more efficient, it will never replace face-to-face conversations.
In addition to physical interaction, mental health – often downplayed in the workplace – is becoming more of a focus for corporate leaders. In many global corporations, HR providing more support for employees with mental health issues.
2. As the economy continues to improve, employers will invest greater sums into the training and development of their employees. More training and development will be utilized to fill the gaps in employee skill sets, and will help companies work to full capacity in an improving economy. This will be most essential for Generation Z employees, who are demonstrating a soft skills gap in the workplace.
3. An increasingly aging workforce will have ramifications for employees of all ages. While much is made of Generation Y and Z employees, the overall workforce is continuing to age, with baby boomers retiring later than their generational predecessors. About three in every four Americans plan to work past retirement age, with almost two-thirds projected to work part-time.
The population of seniors in the U.S. is expected to more than double from 41 to 86 million between now and 2050. As baby boomers maintain their leadership positions, it will be more challenging for younger workers to achieve promotional opportunities and could lead to higher turnover levels.
4. Bullies continue to affect the workplace. A significant change in the reference checking process is that employers are more likely than ever to call the job seeker’s former supervisors rather than the traditional route of calling Human Resources. This is because employers have concluded that former supervisors tend to be far more talkative about previous employees than Human Resources – and a talkative, knowledgeable reference is exactly what they seek.
A 2014 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (workplacebullying.org) identified 27 percent of responders as having current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work, and bosses constituted the majority of bullies. (workplacebullying.org/wbiresearch/wbi-2014-us-survey/).
Workplace bullies can affect not only current, but also future employment opportunities. Workers are encouraged to take a proactive stance, utilizing reference checks and cease and desist services to be sure that references are adhere to company policy and are not jeopardizing a candidate’s chances at future employment.
5. Technological/AI advancements will continue to influence the workplace. Trends that began in 2017 will accelerate in 2018, affecting employment opportunities across the board. Examples include fast food chains adding ordering kiosks and warehouses using automated order pickers. Chatbots – programs that facilitate text conversations – are expected to save companies millions of dollars in salary expenditures annually, as will similar forms of artificial intelligence.
What are the implications for employees and job seekers? It’s important for them to conduct a personal assessment of their current skills and the shifting demands of the workforce. While ongoing training is potentially useful for any job, it is absolutely essential for others. In other cases, workers need to understand where their current skills will leave them as the labor market changes (e.g., as the result of automation, something already being acutely felt in retail markets).