Weekly Wrap: Employees Are an Asset? Yes, MORE Workplace Trends For 2015

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Jan 16, 2015

I know, I know — we’re only two weeks into the New Year and you have already gotten a boatload of workplace predictions and trends for 2015.

That’s what happens when we roll in to a new year, and if you haven’t had enough already, here is one more list of them, courtesy of the The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated:

Here are their Top Workplace Trends for 2015:

1. Regulations will shake up the workplace

Minimum wage law changes and looming U.S. Affordable Care Act deadlines dominated 2014 headlines, but 2015 is when organizations will feel the impact of these and many other regulations.

Additionally, with continued public discourse on non-exempt workers and topics surrounding a living wage, new legislation is expected to arise in this final term of the Obama Administration.

With today’s regulations administered not only at the national and state levels but down to the city, municipal, and individualized union levels, new compliance requirements will shake up processes for organizations while adding another layer of complexity for national and multinational organizations.

2. Employees are an asset

Despite increasing health care and labor costs expected through 2015 and beyond, profitable organizations have learned that excellent financial returns do not have to come at the expense of the employee.

Research shows that employees – especially the front line, hourly workforce – should be seen as an asset, not a cost.

As competition tightens, successful organizations will invest more in their workforces to increase employee engagement and create a virtuous cycle that leads to happy customers.

3. Seismic shift in generational workforce dynamics

Baby Boomers – the largest generation to ever hit the workforce – will begin retiring in droves as their children take on more workplace responsibility. As Baby Boomers exit the workplace, many Generation Xers could see increased opportunity, including long-awaited pay raises.

Millennials will take on management positions for the first time. Talent retention and career development will be key in 2015 as organizations train new managers while working to simultaneously shrink the skills gap and hold onto the knowledge assets of a retiring workforce.

4. Analytics for evidence-based decision-making

Most organizations drowned in data in 2014, as few have unlocked the secret to analytical success.

However, organizations that have lagged behind will take notice of winning big data best practices from previous years, while workforce management tools will deliver analytics for evidence-based decision-making in 2015.

Industry-specific solutions, visualization technology, and new applications from specialized consultation and services vendors will utilize existing workforce management data to create actionable insight.

5. Consumer technology infiltrates workforce management

Human resources, operations, and management professionals would be wise to keep an eye on news from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, as consumer technologies are poised to dramatically impact workforce management.

Mobile devices and social media have transformed the way employees and employers communicate, while gamification and wearable technologies are expected to win in the workplace.

Workforce management software suites and mobile platforms will continue to evolve with consumer software design concepts, including increased focus on the user experience (UX), responsive design, flat OS functionality, and drag-and-drop and touchscreen performance.

What makes the workforce world go around

I enjoy informed speculation on possible workforce trends, but as I am fond of saying, my own crystal ball is pretty hazy. As much as I feel that I have a pretty good handle on where things are going, I frequently get surprised at how they actually turn out.

That’s what makes for an interesting world. None of us REALLY know what is going to happen during the next 12 months, and we don’t get any magical powers because a New Year has been.

So caveat emptor. No one else really knows where things are going either. We may have a pretty good sense of things, but I guarantee there will be plenty of surprises too. That’s what makes the workforce world go around.

Of course, there’s more than just more workplace predictions for 2015 in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Are bigger raises in 2015? The December employment report has led to rampant speculation that employee pay is going to finally start to increase this year, as this New York Times story indicates. My feeling is that I’ll believe it when I see it, because I still don’t believe the pressure on employers to keep workers happy still hasn’t reached a tipping point yet. Even the Times story grudgingly acknowledges that, saying, “We don’t know if that (increased employee pay) will happen, of course. Maybe the path of job growth will slow as we get closer to full employment. Maybe more of the millions of people no longer in the labor force will enter in larger numbers, holding down wages even longer. … But if the trends we’re seeing elsewhere in the data hold up, including those released Tuesday, raising wages could prove to be a sensible decision based purely on business strategy.”
  • Engagement depends on what happens outside work, too. A recent Harvard Business Review story makes a good point — when considering  employee engagement, you need to also take into consideration what impact employees outside work, too. It points out that, “When we only try to understand and affect what happens at work, we ignore the most basic tenet of person-organization fit: employees bring their whole selves to work. What happens after the work day may be just as important as what happens during it.”
  • Can bosses and employees be friends? Unfortunately, The New York Times has killed its popular You’re the Boss small business column (my reaction — WTF?), but it went out on a high note with this post about whether it is possible for bosses and employees tp be friends. It said, in part, “I thought I had this all figured out. I had come to the conclusion that you can be friends with some of your employees — but not at the expense of being the boss. It has to be boss first, friend second. It is just like being a parent. Parent first, friend second. But many employees don’t really need a boss. Yes, they may still need mentoring, and they may still make mistakes (just like the boss). But they take responsibility and try to do the right thing. They can be trusted. They look out for the best interest of the company. They work with you, not for you. They don’t need a boss in the worst sense of the word.”