Editor’s note: It’s never too early to make a forecast about 2013. So, consider this one of many predictions about what may await us when the New Year rolls around. We’ll be publishing them throughout December here at TLNT.
These days we’re bombarded with information and statistics of all types.
It’s hard to know which ones to pay attention to and which ones really are indicators of some much bigger thing that’s going on. We’ve picked out the ones we think are going to influence workplaces in the coming year.
Real estate isn’t waiting around
Traditional office space has a utilization rate of just 50 percent due to sick days, vacation, and travel — and that’s not counting wasted storage space for old papers and whatnot.
So while HR sits around and talks about whether they should introduce mobile work, real estate is moving forward with open floor plans and collaborative work environments.
Implication: HR can’t be stymied by perceived resistance to mobile work when real estate is taking action. Talent leaders would be wise to reach out to real estate and IT and figure out how they can move their initiatives forward together.
The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) era is upon us, with IT increasingly allowing employees to use their own mobile devices. A Cisco study showed a staggering 95 percent of organizations permit employee-owned devices in the workplace, and the average number of connected devices per knowledge worker is expected to reach 3.3 by 2014.
Implication: HR can rethink some of its traditional constraints on flexibility and the access employees have when working remotely. If IT is moving toward employee-owned devices, the technology hurdle is off the table.
Americans are working longer hours than at any time since statistics have been kept, and now they are also working longer than anyone else in the industrialized world.
According to a new report from the Families and Work Institute, one in three American employees feels chronically overworked. In the national study, 89 percent of employees agreed they never seem to have enough time to get everything done. And 36 percent did not plan to take their full vacation days.
Implication: Organizations are concerned about overwork and burnout, yet the temptation is always to do more with less. We’re seeing companies focus on resiliency strategies such as reducing low value work, corporate wellness initiatives, and flexible and tele-work options. Employees who feel they have control over their own schedules are able to work harder and longer before they experience work life stress.
A leader at one large consulting firm reports that she used to lose parents when they had their second or third child. Now, she says, she’s losing employees 10 years before they have their first kids. Young professionals are opting out of the partner track because they’re not interested in the kind of lifestyle that requires.
And in another company we’re working with, we have employees asking to be in the working parent focus groups even though they haven’t had kids yet! They want to be on the forefront of the conversations and influence the organization’s direction before they have kids of their own.
Implication: Leading organizations are investing in new parent support programs. Your leaders might say young people just don’t want to work hard and pay their dues anymore. Fine, they can say that — or they can deal with reality. If your talent pipeline doesn’t want to work 60-hour weeks, the organization needs to adjust. It’s a “suck it up and deal with it” situation.
The “never” unemployed
Unemployment is certainly a big issue in the United States, but so is the talent shortage with an estimated 3 million jobs going unfilled. Nearly half of U.S. employers report difficulty filling mission-critical positions, including nurses, welders, IT, and engineers.
Implication: The challenges are manifold. Work will become increasingly dispersed as U.S. employers look overseas for talent — meaning managers and employees will need skills to collaborate within a remote team.
Companies will have to reshape their notion of who needs to be onsite (and how often) in order to widen their talent pool. And companies focused on “upskilling” or developing talent from within will need to re-engineer work schedules to accommodate training time.
Bye Bye Boomers
Every organization we talk to has open positions and not enough recruiters to find talent for them. They attribute it partly to the economic recovery, but also to Baby Boomer retirement. One major grocery chain we spoke with said 70 percent of its workforce will be 55 or older in the next five years.
Implication: If organizations are going to be challenged to find good talent, they’ll have to be willing to tap into new talent pools, like people looking for part-time work, job shares, and remote work. They’d do well to develop phased retirement programs that incorporate knowledge transfer and reduced schedules.