On this final day of 2014, I’m making some observations about the workplace for the coming year. Why observations and not predictions? Recently, I talked with Steve Boese about predictions and trends on an episode of HR Happy Hour. I am very particular when it comes to using those terms. I think those words are powerful when backed up by research or data that leads to the prediction and I’ll leave that to my work with my colleagues at Brandon Hall Group. That research viewed over several years can possibly become a trend. But without actual data, I don’t give much credence to predictions.
Since I’m thinking about just one year ahead, I prefer to make some observations based purely on what I have seen and heard in 2014.
I think 2015 will be the year of focus on employee aptitude.
Why aptitude? Well, by definition, aptitude is about capability, talent and readiness and speed in learning. I think all that boils down to employees taking control of their own careers and not expecting organizations to do all the work when it comes to keeping them engaged or trained. How might this play out? In several ways:
- Upskilling for retention. Instead of approaching it as training the company provides (or forces), employees today are taking responsibility to improve their skills in non-traditional ways. One example is online training through sources such as Kahn Academy, MIT, YouTube, etc. With greater availability of free or inexpensive courses and information, employees can stack the deck in their favor when it comes to promotions. The faster companies recognize and reward these types of efforts, the better retention rates will be.
- Wearable health and wellness- The last year or two, wearable technology has seen an uptick. Why? There are several likely drivers. First, with an aging population, you will see more people start to monitor their health in order to live longer with better ability. The other factor could be the focus on national healthcare and people fearing that employer-provided healthcare could be coming to and end in the near future. Either way, there is a greater focus on personal health and wellness and it’s easy to get sucked in. Personally, I joined the FitBit ranks. Being able to track my health habits on my phone or computer has been an eye-opener. I think we’ll see this become even more common in 2015.
- Empowerment- If you’re looking for your leadership team to have the ability to focus more on strategy in the future, you’ll need to provide a culture of empowerment for the managers and staff. Employees like having more control over their work and if empowered to make more meaningful decisions, they will become better collaborators and more willing to stay with the company.
- Availability of usable data- Organizations have an abundance of data, but it is not typically usable because they have no means to gather it together in an effective and efficient manner. With HR tech capabilities today, it makes it more easily accessible and able to be combined. What this can mean for employees is they will be able to see where they stand in relation to other employees, they can make better business decisions and they will have the ability to make those decisions faster than ever before.
Those are my observations. What do you think? Do you have other observations of what 2015 will bring? Be sure to share them in the comments.