Every December/January industry publications are full of trends to watch in the coming year. Let’s take a moment mid-year, look at the predictions and see if they are dead on, or dead wrong.
Earlier this year, Dan Schwabel, Forbes.com contributor, shared the following workplace trends for 2015. Among the most significant he cited the skills gap, workers dropping out of the corporate system, the use of automation and outsourcing and the pressure for companies to get leaner. He indicated these factors have created a system where everyone is always under pressure to stay relevant, choose degrees that turn into jobs and constantly reinvent themselves. These trends have also created new opportunities as millions of baby boomers retire and more employees request to work remotely.
Take a look at the following top 10 workplace trends. Are you seeing these within your organizations or industries? How are you addressing them?
Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2015
1. Companies hire Generation Z for internships
While many companies are still trying to understand and connect with Gen Y (or millennials), some companies are already investing in the newest generation. Gen Z’s, born between 1994 and 2010 will become a major target for companies looking to recruit interns next year as the oldest Gen Z will be a senior in college in 2015. A study earlier this year found 50% of employers plan to start or are already accepting applications from high school students for internships this year. Companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and VMware are already paying high school students thousands of dollars to be interns and next year more companies will jump on board. This is happening for two major reasons: 1) companies are trying to close the skills gap (STEM) 2) companies are competing for the very best talent and must build brand awareness early, beginning with high school.
2. More millennials take leadership roles
A few years ago, PayScale.com found nearly 13% of all millennials in America were managers already. A number expected to grow in 2015 as millennials become the largest percentage of the workforce for the very first time. A recent study found 27% of millennials are already managers, 5% are senior management and 2% are executives. In 10 years, 47% want to be managers or senior managers, 7% want to be executives and 15% want to be business owners. 90% of all millennials who are managers took their role in the past five years. Another study by CareerBuilder found 38% of the workforce is managed by millennials which has already caused a few problems including favoritism towards other millennials and an over-confidence in their knowledge compared to older, more experienced workers. The problem these new managers are having is they are unprepared for the positions. They were never trained on how to be good managers and are being pushed into these roles out of necessity – companies are losing older workers and positions are opening up fast.
3. Honesty becomes a revered leadership trait
Companies are going to start embracing transparency more next year as younger generations are demanding it. Leaders won’t just have to be good at inspiring and educating, they will have to be able to instill trust through honesty. A recent study found 52% of Gen Z’s and Gen Y’s state honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader. One company exhibiting the art of transparency is Whole Foods. Their company policy allows all employees to easily look up salary or bonus data from the previous year. It’s only natural for people to want to work under leaders who are open about what the company is doing and why, can articulate where it’s heading in the future and who regularly provide honest feedback. Social media is continuing to push companies to be more open and for leaders to share more of their activities on a daily basis.
4. The skills gap continues to widen
If you ask any HR executive what their biggest challenges are, the skills gap is at the top of the list and is actually widening instead of closing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there were 4.7 million job openings in June and more than half of employers say they can’t find qualified candidates. This issue will progress until the college curriculum aligns with the current job marketplace. This year, only 2% of companies are recruiting liberal arts majors but schools still offer those degrees. Companies need to work with colleges so students get the necessary skills to fill the gaps.
5. The continuous job search picks up
Companies are going to have to deal with even more retention issues next year as job hopping increases. Employees are engaging in a continuous job search and are rarely content to settle in with one company for the long term. This is happening because technology has enabled people to easily research new opportunities and for recruiters to find and steal talent. 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expect workers to job hop. Companies can increase retention rates by creating a superior work culture including transparency, an engaging environment fostering friendships and providing relevant employee benefits and perks.
6. Mobile hiring and the mobile job search explode
Next year there will be an even greater emphasis on mobile recruiting. 83% of job seekers currently use smartphones to search for job openings yet only 20% of the Fortune 500 companies have a mobile friendly career site. 45% of active candidates have applied to a job on their mobile device. Companies are going to have to start optimizing their websites and even creating mobile applications in order to appeal to the on the go job seeker. With more people constantly moving around, taking their work with them, companies need to be able to promote opportunities and reach job seekers via multiple channels.
7. Social media posts used to attract and retain talent
Expect to see more social media updates and blog posts from companies. In order to stand out as an employer, companies will need to start posting more work culture related posts and leveraging their employees to share them. 58% of people are more likely to want to work at a company utilizing social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at a company using social media. People want to work for interesting companies and when they see social media posts, it gives them a better sense of what they are about, their overall mission and their corporate culture. They are tired of only seeing press releases and visiting corporate websites and want something more “real.”
8. Succession planning becomes a top priority
There is no doubt succession planning is going to be a major concern for companies starting next year as more boomers start to retire. One of the ways companies are handling succession planning is to keep older workers on the payroll in order to transfer knowledge to younger employees. About 65% of workers plan to work for pay into retirement.
9. Women continue to seize power positions in the workplace
There’s been a lot of chatter about women in the workplace over the past few years; expect the conversation to accelerate. As more millennials occupy positions in the workplace, the wage gap will start to close. A study by Pew Research shows millennial women are now earning 93 cents for every dollar earned by men. New research also shows the top financially successful companies have 37% of their leaders as women and 12% are high-potential women. With trends such as couples not having children, delayed adulthood and more women attending college, there’s no doubt female leaders will increase.
10. More people stepping out of traditional career paths
Every year there is an increase in freelancers, both out of choice and necessity. Companies are looking to hire more temp workers and consultants because it’s cheaper and they don’t have to pay them benefits. These days, freelancing is seen as a more legitimate and obtainable career path due the Internet and the accessibility it’s given people. A recent study by Elance-oDesk shows 53 million Americans are now freelancers, which is 34% of the American workforce. 69% of them say technology is making it easier to find freelance work, and since technology is always improving, these numbers are going to grow.