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Workplace trends for 2019 include flexibility, digital sophistication

December 05, 2018

Facing historically low unemployment, employers will focus on hiring for potential, offering flexibility and developing digital sophistication, according to an analysis by Randstad US on hiring and workplace trends for the next year.

“HR strategies won’t be effective if they don’t evolve,” said Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America. “Ensuring your company attracts the best talent and is poised to innovate in the future means taking a holistic approach to every decision HR makes. Anticipating digital disruption and developing a meaningful diversity and inclusion strategy will be paramount.”

Here are the eight workplace trends that Randstad US expects for 2019:

Constant digital disruption will become the norm. Keeping up with technology can be daunting, but employees today expect a high level of digital sophistication. Employers must address this through digital relevancy (having the right tools and technologies), digital orientation (helping employees manage their use of and expectations around always-on technologies) and digital leadership (to help the company adopt and adapt to emerging technologies).

A continued shift in how, when, where and why work gets done. Companies are already offering employees more flexibility. This will lead to even more work-life fluidity, as it’s becoming more common for employees to perform “life” tasks during work hours and take work home during “off” hours. Employers are also realizing that employees feel strongly about being invested in their companies’ missions, so companies that can connect the efforts of their employees to bigger-picture goals will have a competitive advantage.

Training — anytime and anywhere — will become an expectation. When companies don’t offer meaningful opportunities for learning and progression, employees move on. Relevant, timely and on-demand training opportunities will be an important retention strategy for 2019 and beyond. Dedicated career coaching is also poised to become more popular as employers realize the benefits of employees engaging with a coach to help them advance.

Diversity and inclusion will take center stage. Businesses must focus on diversity and inclusion to entice a broader talent pool. After all, bringing together wide-ranging perspectives is a key ingredient in innovation and can help drive better business decision-making. Diversity and inclusion is a prerogative that will require buy-in from everyone, including senior leadership.

Artificial intelligence will become an employment category. While few organizations today consider technology a formal part of their workforce, that’s going to change quickly. According to Randstad US, agile workers and AI are the fastest-growing workforce segments. However, far from replacing humans in the workforce, technology is helping them deliver even greater value.

Employers will need to hire for potential and reward retention. When job requisitions stay open too long, employers are forced to spend more time and money on recruitment, while overburdened teams become less effective. Employers must think differently about what makes for a quality candidate, focusing more on “must-have” than “nice-to-have” attributes. From there, employers will also have to get creative to improve and incentivize long-term retention.

Company culture will influence the quality of job applicants. A positive workplace culture is a big draw for candidates evaluating different job opportunities, which is why it’s so important for companies to share external messaging that accurately and authentically captures their work environment. While communicating the positive things that current employees have to say about working for your company can be a huge draw for potential candidates, the key is to do it in a way that feels authentic.

Employee performance measurements will evolve. Internal employee review processes will become more fluid, shifting to models that provide continuous feedback. This will also affect the promotion process: We’ll see more gradual advancement structures, in which managers will constantly feed employees with new challenges and corresponding salary raises on an ongoing basis, as opposed to having fewer promotions along more rigidly structured timelines.

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