Three future workplace trends that are challenging HR as we know it

Our children will have very different careers than us or our parents before us. Workplaces are evolving faster than ever before and this is challenging the way we manage and lead our people.

At wattsnext we have a very keen interest in the future of work and I regularly travel to the US to research and learn about the emerging global workplace and HR trends.

I will blog about these in more detail throughout the year, but to get us thinking, here are three future workplace trends (that are not so much in the future anymore) that SMEs need to be prepared for and/or consider as part of their company strategy.

1. Generational change

The Baby Boomers are transitioning out of the workforce. In 2016 millions more Baby Boomers will retire and it has been reported by the Brighton School of Business and Management that one in four Millennials will enter management roles.

Generation Z will also start to enter the workforce. There are about 4.6 million Generation Z employees in Australia and it is estimated they will comprise one in five of all employees within a decade. Extremely tech-savvy and focused on speed over accuracy, this generation will challenge traditional thinking.

You thought Gen Ys changed jobs often? Generation Z will not only change jobs but change careers as the opportunity arises! We need to design new retention strategies and change our management techniques.

We must structure mentoring, transfer knowledge and embrace technology to ensure we can keep Gen Z engaged and retained – at the same time as being prepared for them to move on in a couple of years!

2. Reducing office space

We went through the era of the cubical and the open-office era. Now expect break out areas, standing desks and collaboration stations to emerge.

There is a definite move towards less floor space per person with suggestions that by 2020, the average space per person will be one-third of what was allocated in 1985. Improved technology continues to encourage flexible work arrangements and I expect this trend to assist in reducing permanent desk space.

We must devise new ways to collaborate and encourage the art of real human interaction. Designing and sustaining culture becomes challenging as workplaces change and employees become increasingly mobilise so ensuring your team can keep connected without being face-to-face needs to be high on the leadership to do list!

3. Social media in the workplace

Fifty-eight percent of people are more likely to want to work at a company if they are using social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at their company if they are using social media.

The Millennials and emerging Generation Z employees have grown up with social media as a primary means of communication. They are highly visual and used to communicating and educating through video over the written word.

No longer will we be writing social media policies to control its use in the workplace, but rather policies to encourage building social currency and show potential future employees that we encourage the use of social media in the workplace.

Australian businesses has been very slow to embrace social media but the impending generational shift will force their hands. If you are still thinking about how to keep your staff off social media please take a good hard look at yourself!

Change is inevitable. Trends are emerging and taking hold faster than ever before. Make sure you are prepared; early adoption often provides you with a competitive advantage.

It is often not the change itself that causes the challenge, rather the impact on the humans indirectly observing it.

Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder and director of  wattsnext, specialists in HR, recruitment, compliance and people performance.


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People HR
5 years ago

We’ve noticed a lot of these changes. We wrote a quick piece about social media in the workplace and it seems true that workers value it. Many of them even say it directly influences their job satisfaction.