Employment Trends for 2013

Posted by Kristin Arnold on March 3, 2013

This week, I was privileged to give a presentation about the top employment trends I have been seeing in my work as a strategic planning facilitator and voracious reader of business literature. Actually, the presentation was more of a conversation about the following trends, what that organization is currently doing and what they could be doing in response to the trends.  It was a great tee up to the rest of their retreat discussing their strategy to be the “employer of choice.”

Thought you might be interested in these trends as well:

1.  Continued Unemployment and Underemployment.  Unemployment will continue to hover around 9% due to a tsunami of factors: the sluggish economy, Baby Boomers who can’t afford to retire, returning vets,  illegal immigrants being able to work legally, increasing payroll costs, sequestration leading to fewer government jobs, and increased workplace regulations.  This could be good news to employers as you have options: lots of people looking for work – and in fact, many are overqualified for the advertised job description.

2.  First Who, Then What.  Jim Collins, in his iconic book, Good to Great, emphasized the importance of identifying talented people and bringing them into the organization.  When you find talent that is aligned with the company’s values and mission, you put them on the bus, point them in the right direction and then let them go for it.  (They can find the right seat pretty quickly!)  Many jobs are morphing in ways we would never have considered just a few years ago.  New job titles are popping up that didn’t exist before.  It’s more about finding great talent who can perform consistent with the mission, vision, and values.

3.  Retirees on Call (ROCs).  Baby Boomers are simply not retiring.  They either can’t afford to retire or they don’t want to retire.  These ROCs have tremendous knowledge and capability – but they want to work for an organization with a meaningful mission, a high degree of ethics, and job flexibility to spend time with their grandchildren or travel around Europe.  These ROCs (and everyone else as well) are going to redefine and shape some of the flexible work policies.

 4.  Flexibility.  It’s not just the ROCs.  Gen X, Y, and the Millenials all want choices.  Flex hours, telecommuting and job sharing allow for employees to have more control over their work hours.  Hotelling, hot desking and collaborative work spaces allow for more flexibility in the actual work environment.

5.  The Diversity Dilemma.  Many organizations struggle with the lack of diversity within the organization: age, gender, ethnicity, etc.  Some of the biggest challenges are in retaining staff under the age of 30, the staff reflecting the composition of the communities they serve and balancing ethnic and cultural diversity.  Closing these gaps require an intentional focus.

6.  Manage Employee Relationships.  As the work becomes more complex and collaborative, the relationship employees have with their managers will be even more important.  Assuming the employee is being compensated appropriately, there is a direct correlation between their job satisfaction, performance and the relationship they have with their manager.  Especially with the younger generations who are demanding more frequent one-on-one coaching, professional development opportunities and sincere appreciation, managers need to be much more skilled and intentional in their activities.

7.  Technology.  Employees are expecting up-to-date hardware and software in the workplace.  They expect to be kept informed of what’s going on, how they are doing and contributing to the team and organization’s performance.  After all, they have smartphones and apps that provide access to incredible amounts of information.  Why can’t they have that same access (and speed) at work?

8.  Good Citizen.  Employees are also expecting the company they work for to be ethically responsible and a good corporate citizen.  Some call this “corporate social responsibility”; others call it doing the right thing.  Regardless, it’s about being a positive force in the world through community activities, green initiatives and being a good steward for the planet.  (This is particularly true for the Gen Ys and Millenials – the young clerk at OfficeMax just lectured me about how it takes a gallon of gas to make a plastic bag.  I’m not sure he is quite right, but was passionate about thanking me for not using a bag to tote my two reams of paper out of the store!).

9.  Creature Comforts.  Since employees spend over half their waking hours at work, you might as well make it comfortable for them.  Food stations, concierge services, child care, pets (dog & cat) at work, fitness centers/showers etc. rank high in employee amenities.  You don’t need provide all the Googleplex amenities, but a small nod to making the workplace a bit more comfortable and enjoyable goes a long way.

That’s a short summation of the top employment trends.  It was NOT meant to be a comprehensive list, but served as a starter to a greater conversation about how to be the employer of choice.  So…what am I missing?  What would you add?

P.S.  You can also see the slides here!

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