8 HR Trends to Keep Your Employee Research on Point

Many companies conduct employee research for critical reasons: to track the impact of their actions, to see how they are doing, and to identify areas where they need to improve. However, a slavish devotion to trending might lead to your survey becoming seriously out-of-date. The workplace is changing rapidly – as are all areas of life these days – and we must look out for those emerging challenges and issues that will impact your employees and their engagement and satisfaction with your company.

It is easy to become lost in our data, but occasionally you need to lift your head and look at the big picture. Although not every trend impacts every organization, here are eight trends to be aware of and to consider for inclusion in your next employee survey.

  1. Increased human interaction. Many companies are designing their workspaces to encourage human interaction between employees (and leaders). According to Dan Schawbel, New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, writing in Forbes, One study found that moments of conversation between co-workers increases performance by 20% and another study uncovered that 72% of employees who have a best friend at work are more satisfied with their job. … Gen Z’s and millennials choose in-person conversations over using technology and prefer corporate offices over telecommuting. While technology can make us more efficient, and feel highly connected to one another, it will never replace face-to-face conversations.” Think about the ages of your workers – should you be asking them whether they want more face-to-face interaction – or more remote work solutions?
  2. College is not for everyone. As companies struggle to find the best and most diverse workforce in a high employment economy, they must accept different types of credentialing. Especially as the cost of traditional education is spiraling out of control, many workers are avoiding college and opting for free or low-cost online courses that focus on the specific skills needed for a particular career path. Additionally, the option of apprenticeships (like PRAXIS) is also attractive to many: according to New America, “Eighty-three percent of respondents supported increased government funding to support apprenticeship. And that support crosses party lines. Ninety-three percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans favor additional spending on these programs.” When the competition is stiff for the skills you need, consider growing your own. “When teams are appropriately trained, companies save an average of $70,000 annually and receive a 10% increase in productivity. As Generation Z enters the workplace, they face an even greater skills gap, where 65% of the jobs they will need to fill don’t even exist yet.” Gathering input about your employee’s perceptions of the training and development opportunities they have and those they need may let your company lead the way.
  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more than buzz. Considering that nearly every new device and service in the next few years will contain or be supported by AI in some form, it is not surprising that the topic causes excitement – and concern – in employees. Leading developers like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are building smarter products using AI, and there are now over one thousand AI vendors supporting all types of companies and people. You must understand employees’ perceptions about AI to develop policies and strategies for its implementation.
  4. Financial and mental wellness are on the table. Northwestern Mutual reports that more than a quarter of millennials say financial stress affected their job performance and made them feel physically ill and depressed. As a result, many companies that are helping employees pay back student loans to ease their financial burdens, including Fidelity, PwC, Aetna, and Chegg. More companies are also starting to have conversations and offer support with mental health challenges, which is becoming more acceptable in society. Do your employees feel supported in their financial and mental wellbeing?
  5. Easing of Labor Laws. The current administration is undoing selected labor laws, and many of these changes could have an impact on employees. For example, the White House is currently working to dismantle a regulation requiring companies to report worker compensation by race, gender, and the administration is also targeting a regulation that requires companies to log workplace injuries.  Understanding your workforce can help you prepare for and take advantage of these regulatory changes appropriately.
  6. Diversity is important. Talking about diversity is not new, but now companies are doing more than talking – they are investing in diversity. For example, SAP evaluated employee compensation, considering years of experience, past performance, employees’ locations, and gender. When they found gaps in gender pay, they invested about $1 million in closing the gaps. Additionally, more companies are creating employee resource groups to support all types of diversity, including gender, ethnicity, age and sexual preference, to promote the positive impact of diversity. What are your employee opinions about diversity in their workplace?
  7. Burnout is increasing. Longer hours, heavier workloads, minimal additional compensation, and greater technological accessibility can lead to employee burnout. The French government recently introduced legislation that ensures workers’ “right to disconnect” proving that this is not just an American phenomenon.
  8. Workers and Leaders are aging. Baby Boomers are living longer and retiring later than previous generations. Pew Research estimates about ten thousand Baby Boomers achieve retirement age each day, but fewer than half of Baby Boomers expect to retire at age 65. When they finally do retire, companies will bear a potentially significant cost in retirement benefits and healthcare. Additionally, as Boomers stay in their posts, especially in leadership positions, there are limited opportunities for younger workers to move up in the organization – perhaps leading to frustration, stress, and increased attrition.

Again, not all these trends should be covered in every employee survey, but it is useful to stay abreast of the rapidly changing HR marketplace. To do that, you need information – and employee research is a great place to start.

Contact Us when you are ready to get started!