We’re only a week into the new year, and we’re already seeing several new workplace trends emerge. As a business leader, you’re committed to being a pacesetter, an innovator and someone who leads a thriving workplace year-round. To beat your objectives in attracting and retaining quality talent, outperforming competitors and ensuring continued customer satisfaction, you have to stay ahead of the curve.
To help you exceed your goals this quarter and prepare for continued success, we’ve compiled a list of the seven trends we believe will reshape the workplace in 2016.
Business Trend No. 1: Flexible Hours as a Standard
Schedule inflexibility is one of the top reasons Millennials quit their jobs. In the next four years, Millennials will make up an estimated 46 percent of the entire U.S. workforce—so keeping them happy is critical. But Millennials aren’t the only ones looking for flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities. Worldwide, 43 percent of workers said they were willing to take flexible work hours over a pay raise.
Business Trend No. 2: Collaborative Environments
Here’s some food for thought: 64 percent of all employees feel they do not have a strong work culture. Furthermore, Forbes reported that 88 percent of Millennials prefer a collaborative work culture over a competitive one.
Collaborative environments foster creativity, community and shared accountability. These happier, healthier work environments also inspire employee loyalty. If organizations want to move toward a more collaborative environment, they must find ways to build trust between employees and management, increase communication and create a shared vision or purpose.
Some tips for achieving this environment include:
- Re-define your organization’s mission statement with input from your staff
- Consider an open office
- Equip your employees with advanced communication and conferencing tools
- Host events that encourage socialization among employees
Workplace Trend No. 3: Remote-First, Not Just Remote-Friendly
According to BetaNews, 45 percent of U.S. employees now work from home—and of that percentage, 32 percent are over the age of 55. In other words, Millennials aren’t the only generation seeking remote employment opportunities.
Giving employees the freedom to work remotely empowers them to perform responsibilities in a way that best suits their individual needs and improves work-life balance. This has a trickle-down effect that impacts overall business performance.
Still not convinced? Check out these stats from Remote.co on remote-first business:
- About 67 percent of managers say remote employees increase their overall productivity.
- 30 percent of employees said remote working allowed them to get more done in less time while 24 percent said they could accomplish more in the same amount of time.
- 80 percent of workers surveyed said overall office morale increased.
- Job attrition rates decrease by more than 50 percent in some cases.
- Aetna saved $2.7 million in operational costs by adopting a remote-first policy.
- American Express saved between $10 million and $15 million with remote-first.
- 87 percent of remote workers reported feeling more connected with colleagues and supervisors.
Autonomy inspires a culture of innovation, and less top-down management is proving to be instrumental in developing a prolific business. In traditional, top-down companies, communication is slow because information and approvals must traverse multiple layers of management. These environments also struggle to adapt to change, which does not fare well in today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving marketplace.
Steve Jobs said it best: “You have to be run by ideas, not by hierarchy.”
The model Apple adopted under his direction involved letting employees entertain and debate their own ideas. They were given the freedom to make decisions and bring ideas to fruition. Thanks to his legacy, the company continues to rank on top of Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands.
What can we learn from Jobs? Give employees the opportunity to share their ideas and make important decisions. This shows that your organization respects their intellectual property, trusts their judgment and appreciates their effort.
Workplace Trend No. 5: More Executive Involvement
Employees look to their organization’s executive team to set a tone. If executives aren’t engaged in the organization and its mission, how can they expect employees to engage and adopt the brand and culture? In 2016, the elusive executive team is expected to get more involved in all levels of business and lead by example. That means reinforcing new policies and initiatives, communicating ideas and expectations, and working more closely with management.
Workplace Trend No. 6: Increased Automation
Competition is moving fast, and if you want to get ahead, you need to think outside the traditional box and jump on board with automation technologies, like workplace and office management software and mobile software.
These technologies help streamline business operations and eliminate geographic boundaries, enabling management to maintain a comprehensive view of all business happenings in real time from any location. Furthermore, many daily tasks are automated and removed from their to-do list, which frees up more time and energy to focus on other projects and responsibilities.
Workplace Trend No. 7: Generation Z Preparation
Generation Z’s first graduating class will hit the workforce this year, and businesses need to be ready for them. This is an opportunity to attract fresh talent with all the ambition in the world (think back to your first year out of college).
Generation Z is the most tech-savvy of all the generations—in fact, they never knew a time without the Internet. They are resourceful, self-directed and motivated by their want to make a difference. They are inherently entrepreneurial, patient and dead set on developing their career path. To capitalize on these strengths, organizations should pair new employees with a mentor who can help them with career decisions. Generation Z also values training and developmental programs.
Happy Employees = Happy Customers
Your business success hinges on the people who run it, so attract top talent by creating a culture in which they want to belong. Give them flexibility and freedom to innovate. Have executives champion your organization’s mission statement to inspire company-wide pride and loyalty. Most importantly, equip employees with the tools they need to perform more efficiently, increase productivity and meet the wants and needs of your customers.
The key takeaway is this: The businesses most likely to thrive in 2016 are those that are progressive, well-provisioned and employee-centric. Does your business have what it takes to be a front runner?
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