5 Workplace Trends Shaping 2019

Is your organization ready to address shifting demographics, gender pay disparities and the newest technology “nudges”? Here are a few workplace trends companies and leaders will be dealing with in 2019, and beyond.

Workplace Predictions for 2019

1. Revamping recruiting and onboarding for Generation Z. Say hello to the newest generation entering the workforce – Gen-Z. This group of 61 million born between 1996-2010 are quite different than their older Millennial generation of bosses and colleagues. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips, where constant digital social connectivity is the norm. Gen Z is poised to be the most diverse generation in American history, and they expect their workplace to mirror the diversity they see in their face-to-face and digital lives. In her book, Humanity WorksFuturist and colleague Alex Levit recommends organizations attract Gen-Z talent by adapting and appealing to Gen-Z’s unique characteristics:

  • Offer customized career paths and flexible rotation opportunities. This is the era of career customization and employers must respond with tours of duty, lattice career paths and cross-functional experiences.
  • Develop a talent pipeline early. Create partnerships with universities and high schools that provide unique opportunities to build a pool of skills and a strong recruiting brand.
  • Reconsider requiring a college degree. Apprenticeships are proving to be a more effective way to recruit and develop talent in certain industries.

2. No more hiding from wage gap discrepancies. As employees have more access to wage data – either sharing it openly or reviewing sites like salary.com and LinkedIn – companies will find it harder and harder to justify their salary discrepancies. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research: “Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. In 2017, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.” Lawsuits like the one the Boston Symphony Orchestra finds itself in (paying their top flutist $70, 000 less than her oboist colleague), are time-consuming, expensive and a public relations nightmare. Organizations must get ahead of wage gap discrepancies by conducting gender pay audits, uncovering potential issues, and rectifying any problems. 

3. Less email. More chats and targeted nudges. At some point, email will disappear completely. The youngest demographics in the workforce spend considerably less time on email compared to other messaging apps. Chat apps such as SlackRemesh and Microsoft Teams continue to gain popularity as more convenient and productive workforce communication channels. We will continue to see a wide range of digital nudges – SMS text messages, push notifications, mobile apps, and gamification – prompting workplace actions and decisions. For example, Humu, a start-up founded by former Google executives, uses HR data, productivity information and personal surveys to send out targeted emails or texts to employees reminding them to take an action, complete a task or follow-up with a customer. If you haven’t noticed your electronic communication shifting towards informal chats and nudges, you will soon.

4. Learning that’s simple to access, consume and update. Although instructor-led classroom training is not extinct (in 2017 42% of training hours were delivered by a stand-and-deliver instructor in a classroom setting), organizations are getting more creative and nimble in meeting the learning needs of their employees. Expect to see more onboarding information, policy updates, and job-specific knowledge delivered in small bites. Especially in industries where “deskless workers” work in the field or on the road, we’ll continue to see micro, personalized training employees can access in the elevator, on the train, or in line at the grocery store.

5. Open floor plans are out, activity-based workplace designs are in. You’re not alone if you despise the open floor plan movement. Distractions, lack of privacy, decreased productivity are a few of the complaints. But at least there’s more face-to-face communication and collaboration, right? Wrong. A recent study finds “rather than prompting increasingly vibrant face-to-face collaboration, open architecture appeared to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates and interact instead over email and IM.” In the next few years, I predict we’ll see more activity based workplace designs, i.e. hybrid mixes of open workstations, semi-private suites, privacy pods, conference rooms, and social hubs.

The future of work has arrived. Is your organization ready?

Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.

Marta Steele