10 workforce predictions for 2018

Want to know the workplace trends you should expect in the coming year?

Future Workplaces' director of research, Dan Schwabel, shares his predictions in a recent article for Forbes.

Trend 1: Organizations will redesign office spaces to encourage face-to-face interactions

In-person interactions may be the key to higher productivity and employee satisfaction, Schwabel writes. In fact, both millennials and Gen Z employees prefer in-person conversations, according to a survey by Randstad.

To promote collaboration and communication across teams, companies like Apple and Google are redesigning their workspaces, he notes. Similarly, the new generation of faculty are pushing for more collaborative, open work spaces, writes Ann Lippens, a practice manager at EAB.

Trend 2: Online credentials may play a larger role

More people are turning to MOOCs to pursue alternative credentials and build new skills, finds a report from Pew Research Center. Since the boom in online education, for- and non-profit institutions alike have sought to stay ahead of the field with the latest technology to engage online students. To engage this growing population, more community college leaders are working to create experiences that cultivate communities among their online students.

Trend 3: Leaders will re-train current employees

As automation changes the workforce, leaders will re-train their current employees to close the growing skills gap, Schawbel predicts. At high-performing organizations, about 86% of employees receive appropriate training, whereas the worst performing organizations train only 16% of their workers, according to a study by IBM.

The skills gap places a burden on colleges and universities to graduate highly prepared and developed individuals. To help liberal arts students gain both soft and technical skills, more institutions are investing in practical concentrations and professional experiences.

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Trend 4: AI's workplace presence will grow

The next big wave of AI in the workplace will be chatbots, Schawbel forecasts. Many organizations use chatbot technology to provide on-demand customer support or streamline business processes, he notes. By next year, more than half of companies will likely adopt chatbots, according to a survey of IT professionals by Spiceworks.

Trend 5: Leaders will focus on financial and mental health

More than 25% of millennials say that financial worries negatively impact their job performance and physical health, finds a report by Northwestern Mutual. Similarly, about 84% of employees report experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, according to one study.

On campus, student mental health is a perennial issue that has grown more acute in recent years as institutions see more and increasingly serious conditions among students. To better support student mental health, many institutions are working to connect students with needed resources and support.

Trend 6: Organizations will tackle employee burnout

Nearly half of HR professionals point to burnout as a primary reason for workforce turnover, according to a report by Kronos. To prevent employee burnout, organizations will double down on encouraging a healthy work-life balance, Schawbel predicts.

Trend 7: Candidate experience may affect revenue

More than half of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience can dissuade them from supporting that organization in the future, finds a study by Future Workplace and CareerArc. As more organizations measure the connection between employee and candidate experience against revenue, leaders will focus on improving their hiring processes and development programs, Schawbel writes.

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Trend 8: More organizations will take on diversity initiatives

Diversity has been a talking point for years, but now organizations are taking concrete actions to promote equality at work and diversify their workforce, Schawbel writes. SAP, for example, reviewed their gender pay gaps and made appropriate adjustments to increase salaries, he points out. Other firms are building support spaces for diverse employee groups.

Trend 9: Deregulating labor laws may put more employees at risk

As the current administration deregulates labor laws, organizations may face more hurdles in promoting diversity and workers' rights, Schawbel predicts. In addition, over half of leaders report that each regulatory change can cost an average of $100,000, according to one survey.

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Trend 10: The aging workforce will bring new challenges

About 75% of Americans plan to work past retirement age, according to estimates by the Pew Research Center. Most companies haven't yet prepared retirement benefits or healthcare options for the aging workforce, Schawbel writes. And as older executives maintain leadership positions, the lack of promotion opportunities may lead to higher young employee turnover, he predicts (Schawbel, Forbes, 11/2). 

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