10 Ways the Workplace Will Change in 2016

By December 15, 2015 Trends

The workplace is changing in ways that would have been inconceivable less than a decade ago. Here are some of the leading trends.

Each year, futurist Dan Schawbel, makes his workplace trend predictions in Forbes. This year, his top ten 2016 trends discuss everything from healthcare to office space to flexible schedules.

  1. The acceptance of boomerang employees – It used to be that once an employee left a company, it was unlikely that they would be hired back. Where once, nearly half of companies said they had a policy against hiring these ex-employees, now 76% say they’re willing to rehire them. Familiarity with company culture, processes, and training make them more acceptable than having to train brand new employees from scratch.
  2. The leadership gap will start to be filled – With more than 3.6 million boomers set to retire next year, succession plans in organizations is becoming a top priority. Millennials, identified by the Schawbel, as transformational leaders, will begin filling the leadership hierarchy.
  3. Workplace flexibility will become more available – With workers now working on average more than 40 hours a week, and managers expected to be accessible even outside of their normal working hours, companies that are willing to give those employees some flexibility will do better in hiring and retaining talent than those who are more stringent. As Schawbel points out, “we are getting ready for the next “baby boom” when 80 million millennials have children,” so flexibility is only going to grow as an issue.
  4. Wearable technology will be taken seriously – As the workforce changes to a generation that seems wedded to technology and devices, offices will see more of their staff having wearable tech, from Fitbit to the Apple Watch, to whatever new device and technology emerge. These devices are used to track health and wellness and productivity by their wearers. Schawbel indicates that as businesses recognize and are able to measure the value of these devices from a productivity position, we will see even more of them.
  5. Office design will be used to increase collaboration – Collaboration between employees, departments, and clients/customers is becoming a key factor to a company’s success. By 2020, says Schawbel, “the average amount of space per employee will drop to 150 square feet, down from 400 in 1985.” This is due, in part, to globalization, decentralization, flexible scheduling and, of course, a desire to cut overhead. According to studies, employees want “flexible furniture, a distraction-free environment and lounge areas. This isn’t going to be your father’s workspace any longer.
  6. Healthcare costs will increase – We know that changes are going to occur as the penalties start to take effect. Schawbel anticipates this may lead some companies to prefer freelancers over full-time employees. It will certainly make life more complicated for those in HR and will finance executives will have to look very hard at their organization’s headcount.
  7. More jobs will become automated – From greater efficiency to lower costs; the growth in affordable automation solutions for low value-added tasks continues to grow. Now automation is moving into new areas, and that can be a bit scary. Schawbel shares a prediction that half or our jobs may be taken over by machines in the next twenty years. The upside is that any time something disruptive ends old job positions, newer jobs are created for people with the right skills.
  8. Gen Z enters the workforce – The first Gen Z workers (those born in 1994) will begin looking for work in May of 2016. That should give you some pause. These workers are much like millennials in the things they’ll be looking for in the workplace, including opportunities for growth and work-life balance. That will be more important than salary.
  9. More professionals will look for “gigs” instead of full-time jobs – When they asked famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, why he robbed banks, he reportedly said, “because that’s where the money is.” So professionals, understanding that more and more companies may be looking to replace full-time positions with freelancers, will take that route as well. Plus many younger professionals love the flexibility and control they have over their lives by taking these positions, and technology and mobility have made this possible.
  10. Maternity leave becomes an even more important benefit for the next baby boom – Younger workers entering the workforce means growing families can’t be far behind. Companies with expansive maternity benefits will be able to attract better talent than those whose benefits are more restrictive. Schawbel notes that only 1% of companies offer unlimited maternity leave, but 64% of employees say they want it. As more major corporations approach this point, it will become increasingly difficult for smaller companies to get the best and brightest to join their organization by matching those offers.

Read the full article to see how the workplace is due for a major overhaul.

Kate Freer

About Kate Freer

Kate Freer is Vice President, Marketing for NationaLease, and is responsible for go-to-market strategy, demand generation, branding, positioning, and communications. She has spent most of her 15 year career in the digital marketing space fostering brands in high-growth companies.

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