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5 Workplace Trends and Issues to Watch 2018

Employers should prepare for and manage their workforce to meet their goals in the new year


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Colorado employers are setting new business objectives and identifying potential pitfalls that might impede achievement of goals in the New Year. Workplace dynamic is an important, evolving area to assess and plan for to maximize productivity, solidify office culture and achieve success.

Reviewing, learning and adapting to key issues and trends for 2018 will help employers prepare for and manage their workforce. Here are five workplace issues and trends that will continue to define the workplace into 2018.

1. INCREASED FOCUS ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The last few months of 2017 were marked by complaints and allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. Given the heightened attention, employers should be prepared with the proper policies, training and processes. This will help human resources managers and employers create a zero-tolerance culture, with a focus on preventing situations of harassment and effectively addressing any reported complaints as they arise.

2. PRIORITIZATION OF EMPLOYEE MENTAL WELLNESS

Conversations about mental health are becoming increasingly common, unlike in previous years when the topic remained stigmatized. Employees who are stressed and burned out are less productive and less satisfied with their jobs, which contributes to increased turnover and can lead to a negative company culture. Human resources managers are taking a more proactive and accepting approach to mental wellness by offering employees access to counseling, mental health toolkits and additional time off for mental health days.

3. INCREASE IN REMOTE WORKERS AND FLEX JOBS

More and more employees are demanding a flexible work environment and that includes having choice in where they work. Working remotely is a sought-after benefit that can help create an engaging, employee-centric culture. Lower commute times and a more flexible schedule can positively impact employee productivity, while lower overhead costs can boost company bottom lines. With technology like video conferencing, group chat tools and smart phones, it’s easy for employees to stay connected and focused, even when they are working remotely

4. AN AGING WORKFORCE

Baby Boomers continue to maintain leadership positions within the workforce as a result of delaying retirement or shifting to part-time schedules. This can impact the timeframe in which younger workers are promoted, potentially leading to higher turnover, added stress and frustration among younger team members. To prevent this, employers should consider implementing generational diversity training programs aimed at helping employees across generations communicate better and deal with change, all while developing a more productive and respectful workplace.

5. EVOLUTION OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE WORKPLACE

While artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace incites both excitement and fear, it’s without debate that it’s shaking up how employees work. Advances in voice-enabled assistants, video meeting ergonomics and facial recognition, and virtual reality are all on the horizon and can impact even the most basic forms of communication. From utilizing AI to answer easy questions like, “How much paid time off do I have left,” to drafting more bias-free job descriptions, advances in technology will enable employees to shift from mundane, transactional tasks to focus on higher-level and more creative work. Newer technologies allow employees to work more efficiently and as this, and other, benefits are discovered, artificial intelligence will be adopted at a faster pace.

Starting the New Year with a firm grasp of potential workplace issues and trends impacting businesses will help ensure employers are maximizing their teams’ efforts and contributing to a positive performance. 

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Lorrie Ray

Lorrie Ray is director of member engagement at Employers Council in Denver. Ray's experience in the variety of problems typically facing employers includes resolution of civil rights cases before state and federal administrative agencies, federal wage and hour disputes and state law claims, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and health and safety laws. She is also a frequent lecturer on employment law matters. Previous to working at Employers Council, Ray worked at the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Solicitor for a little over three years, prosecuting wage and hour cases for the Department.

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