Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2012- Part 2

By Aoife Gorey

All organizations are different, big and small, public and private, but for all workforces, the fourth quarter of the fiscal year can be quite frightening. Some teams struggle to nail down a strategy plan for the coming year while others strive to reach that seemingly impossible end-of-year sales goal. Did you know that in the past 7 years, there have been more layoff announcements during the fourth quarter than any other three month period?

Whether or not your company is dealing with any of the above issues, it is imperative that leaders acknowledge current workplace trends in preparation for the coming year. You should not strategize any business plan for the coming year without accounting for current and forecasted industry trends in your space. Last week we outlined The Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2012 Part 1. The first five are:

1. Workplaces that promote sustainability
2. Integration of workplace solutions – creating a higher value
3. Inclusive workplaces
4. Rewards and recognition
5. Virtual Workforces

In part two of this series, we cover the remaining top ten workplace trends of 2012.

6. The built environment as a driver of employee engagement
Did you know that 71% of new employees arrive on the job with high levels of employee engagement, but after six months on the job, the rate drops to 57%. A Wyatt Watson study states that one of the key factors in this drop was leadership. “Employees sensed a lack of encouragement, empowerment, and clarity from company leaders, and primarily from their immediate supervisor.” (Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA Survey, February 2009)
Working conditions can be critical to sustaining engaged employees.  Room temperature, break facilities and furnishings all add or subtract from this.  Top performing companies know that they can significantly increase employee engagement by paying special attention to create the ideal working environment.  What is your working environment like? Check out 10 Seeeeeriously Cool Workplaces.

7. Evidence-based space design
Evidence-based design, often shortened to EBD, is a field of study that emphasizes the importance of using credible data in order to influence the design process. Originally a popular process in Healthcare architecture, EBD greatly differs today. Organizations in all industries use data to create sleek, beautiful and inspiring work spaces. Organizations must analyze the requirements of workers and customers and incorporate it into the built-space design. Today’s workplace designers understand that new workspaces must be built with the employees and customers in mind. For example, data tells us that men prefer stores with metals and dark woods, food shoppers spend more money when the store’s direction is clockwise. Much research has been conducted over the years outlining the effect of evidence-based design on healthcare employees and even on the healing of patients.

8. Quantifiable employee health and wellness initiatives
Wellness programs have become more and more prevalent in recent years evolving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’. Fitness breaks are the newest trend in this area.  Organizations are focusing on all forms from relaxation breaks to meditation to exercises employees can do at their desk. Research suggests that organizations now will focus on “VOI” or “Value on Investment” over traditional “ROI”, as these methods have proven to increase productivity and reduce healthcare costs.

9. Psychological health in the workplace
68% of employed Americans reported that their employers had taken steps such as putting a freeze on their wages, laying off employees and reducing work hours because of a weak economy. There are numerous things that can aid a healthy and happy workplace. Sodexo’s research report outlines:

  • Health and safety
  • Employee growth
  • Work-life balance
  • Employee recognition

It is important to in order to address any of these issues and workplace trends, organization leaders must understand that every company is unique. Each workplace function may or may not be relevant to your organization. Leaders should address the workplace trends and issues unique to their organization.

10. Flexible workplaces
Organizations used to boast about workplace flexibility as an employee benefit, nowadays this seems to be a given for more and more organizations. SHRM recently launched a comprehensive public policy campaign to promote flexibility in spring of the coming year. Environmental factors have played a role in the increase of this trend. ‘Snowmageddon’ in 2010 lost $70 million per day and last year’s H1N1 virus further supports telecommuting. Flexibility in the workplace has even made its way into the government organizations. In 2010, the President signed the Telework Enhancement Act, setting standards for teleworking among federal employees. The act is said to help the government during any crisis or extreme weather situation.  Many organizations such as Netflix and IBM believe that flexibility in the workplace promotes productivity and engagement.

All of the top workplace trends of 2012 influence employees and employers. It seems they may have a significant impact beyond 2013.

Is your business trying to grow in 2013? Has your organization adapted to these newer trends? Which ones do you think have the strongest effect on driving business and increasing employee engagement?

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