5 Trends Driving Workplace Culture in 2017

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Between altering political and economic landscapes, increasing demands of the next-generation workforce, and the expeditious pace of advanced cognitive technology, human resources professionals have their work cut out for them. As companies adapt to these new and evolving conditions, we’ve witnessed the emergence of some fascinating workplace trends. Here are our top five picks for trends driving workplace culture in 2017.

1. Welcome Generation Z

Move over, millennials! Gen Zers, born between 1994–2010, are reaching their 20s and entering the workforce at a rapid acceleration via internships and entry-level positions. Generation Z outnumbers millennials and baby boomers and, according to Robert Half, will make up 20 percent of the US workforce by 2020.

With an ever-increasing set of demands and an entrepreneurial spirit, these young employees are eager to work, focused on career growth, and motivated by structure and stability. But as much as they seem to value predictability, Gen Z employees do not plan to stay at their jobs for longer than three years. Considering this generation will be job hoppers, employers will have to work extra hard to retain top talent.

2. Evolution of the Performance Review

Now having been part of the workforce for over a decade, millennials are starting to take over management and director roles. Coincidingly, much discussion about employee evaluations has been penetrating the human resources industry. Managers often don’t enjoy giving performance reviews and most don’t believe that they’re effective. Interestingly, research suggests that employees with supervisors who check in on them on a weekly basis are more likely to achieve their goals.

But it’s not just the employers who want change. Employees no longer want to wait for year-end reviews to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement. Instead, they want open communication with real-time, instant feedback. With the goal of improving overall organizational performance, companies like GE, Microsoft, and Netflix have already begun adopting new performance review policies to adapt to the changing expectations.

3. All-Inclusive Culture

These days, employees, customers, and even suppliers are proactively seeking out environments that foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce. All invested stakeholders demand that companies remove potential biases from recruitment, compensation, promotion, and more. As such, some enterprises have taken steps to address these concerns, for example, by requesting resumes without names to remove any chance for potential discrimination.

Though there’s a growing interest in diversity outcome development, it’s not an easily achievable goal. That said, it’s critical that companies invest in inclusion training programs. Research suggests that diversity drives innovation, especially for larger companies, diverse teams are more engaged in their work, and inclusion positively impacts overall brand performance.

4. Learning & Development 2.0

With improvements to artificial intelligence, virtual reality (like Oculus Rift recently integrating with Facebook Live), 3D display systems, and reality apps underway, 2017 has already been—and will continue to be—a year of massive technological growth. Several companies have already fully implemented cognitive and AI technologies within various business units. As an example, GE has started using VR headsets during recruitment and career fairs to demonstrate locomotives and oil-and-gas recovery machines to potential candidates.

But it doesn’t stop at recruitment. On-demand curriculums and videos are transforming employee training, learning, and development. Inundated with employee questions, human resources teams have begun implementing automated tools and platforms such as Lessonly and Litmos to enable automated training and self-service options for employees. In 2017, HR leaders will continue to find digital improvements for recruitment, retention, onboarding, and more.

5. Augmented Workforce

Estimated at a total of 55 million employees in the United States—that’s 35 percent of the total US workforce—it’s clear that the gig economy is not going anywhere. Freelancers, independent contractors, and statement-of-work-based laborers will continue to emerge, and companies will continue to adapt to these blended workforces.

Interestingly, employer commitment to agile workforces has significantly increased in the last 4 years. According to Randstad, employers are more committed than ever before. HR managers are finding innovative ways to smoothly integrate nontraditional employees into the workforce. Contingent workers are helping companies with everything from corporate strategy and market research consulting to data entry, driving, delivery, and more.

Companies are adapting to the latest workplace culture trends by preparing for the next generation workforce, evolving performance evaluations, focusing on inclusion, and embracing digital transformations and blended workforces. Businesses are always looking for ways to adapt to changing economic and political landscapes, attract and retain high-quality employees, and improve overall company performance; but, in 2017, we’re seeing some new, improved, and alternative approaches to achieving these goals.

The rise of the agile workforce is a trend that not only benefits entrepreneurial individuals, who value freedom, flexibility, and remote-work models; it also helps companies efficiently meet their goals. Interested? Check out Catalant’s expert profiles and download our whitepaper below on Winning with a Flexible Workforce. 

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