Workplace Technology Assessment
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By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
Workplace trends constantly evolve and keeping up with the latest-greatest can be tough. Ten years ago, employers weren’t concerned about open offices, perks like ping pong tables and Friday lunches, or standing desks and unlimited time off. But as times change, companies need to embrace workplace trends that boost productivity and increase employee engagement. Here are nine trends to consider:
It’s no secret our phones track our every move. They literally count our steps, give us a rundown of our health, and pinpoint our location for social media posts. Employers now want to tap this technology to track employee movements. Location tracking shows how many employees work in the office versus from home. Wearables are even used to track work time. Many employers provide wearable technology as part of benefit packages and offer bonuses or gifts via health programs for employees who meet weekly activity goals.
Cubicles and corner offices are going extinct as open, communal office workplaces take hold. Joining the lunchroom-style shared tables are multi-faceted designs with flex furniture (sit-to-stand desks), quiet rooms and phone booths, and lounges filled with comfy furniture to foster creativity and collaboration.
The days of 9-to-5 schedules are waning. Employees want time to tend to their personal matters during the workday, whether it be going to the doctor or picking a sick kid up from school. According to Ernst & Young, 76 percent of employees find it difficult to manage personal, family, and work commitments. Now, some companies offer the option to telecommute, work irregular hours, or operate out of a co-working space. This flexibility not only benefits employees, but helps increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
In tandem with flexibility is work-life balance. Experts assumed that millennials were willing to kill themselves for their work, spending 12 hours in the office each day because they’re notoriously high achievers. They were wrong. What drives this group, which makes up the majority of the workforce, is balance–time for personal and creative pursuits that refresh them and improve their focus while on the job. For millennials, work-life balance supersedes even salary and benefits.
Sharing Economy & Freelancing
The search for work-life balance plays into workers taking on freelance opportunities where they make their own schedules and take on as much or as little work they want. While salaries remain stagnant, the gig economy is how workers bring in extra income when money is tight, save for big purchases, or pay off loans. Many companies also utilize freelancers for long-term projects in a “permalance” role, which allows them to hire for a specific period of time without having to onboard and train someone in a full-time capacity.
Employee Experience & the New Performance Review
Annual reviews are a thing of the past. The younger workforce demands real time feedback, not shocking revelations during a year-end evaluation. Managers are responding by holding weekly or monthly feedback sessions to discuss progress, resolve issues, and address work needs. There are also weekly team meetings to discuss the group’s goals and progress as a whole. The feedback loop also adds to the employee experience. Workers want to feel good at work; they want comfort in their physical surroundings, as well as know where they stand in the big picture.
It used to be that once an employee left a company, they never looked back. It was also common policy to not rehire a former employee. Now, more workers are rejoining previous employers–and companies are eager to welcome good talent back. Whether their time was spent earning a degree, taking time off to travel, or simply working at another company, business leaders understand that rehiring former employees decreases onboarding and training costs, plus shortens the learning curve.
One of the first things companies looked for in job candidates was a college degree. That trend is shifting to credit for coursework taken through non-credentialed courses and workplace experience. LinkedIn and FedX offer high-level online classes that are as robust as a college class at a fraction of the cost. Most millennials won’t pay off student debt before age 50. Younger generations see this financial burden as a deterrent to formal degrees and would rather spend time learning specific skills in online or non-credentialed classes while working to gain more experience.
Financial and Mental Wellness
Benefits packages are growing to include financial and mental wellness checkups. Money worries impact productivity, so companies are bringing in consultants to help with financial planning and retirement. Plus, coverage for mental health therapy and psychiatric services is becoming the norm – – even workplace meditation rooms can increase productivity. Employees are encouraged to take “mental health” days to recharge and address personal issues that negatively impact their work.