The modern workforce is fluid, dynamic and ever changing. The influences which shape it are also in constant flux. The status of the workforce in 2015 certainly demonstrated this. The past year has been one of the most turbulent in the human resources history. However, it is gone, and 2016 is quickly arriving.
According to some industry experts, 2016 will see massive shifts in the US workforce. For instance, Josh Bersin already predicted a number of technological disruptions which will shake up the workforce come 2016. However, tech is just one of the aspects which will rock the workforce. There are many others.
Below are highlights of the major workforce trends for 2016. Specifically, these are trends which will have a significant impact on human resources. Therefore, if you are a HR professional who is planning, budgeting or forecasting for the year 2016, the following are the key workforce trends which you need to take into consideration.
Millennials Take The Leadership Mantle
In March 2015, Generation Y employees (aka Millennials) became the largest generation currently in US employment. For the first time, the number of Millennials in the force exceeds Baby Boomers. Almost one-third of all US employees are Millennials.
Beyond just dominating the workplace numerically, Millennials are also beginning to take on leadership positions. Currently, almost half of Millennials who are employed are in leadership positions. Close to 41% have at least 3 or 4 direct reports.
This trend is only set to continue in 2016. Most experts agree that Millennials will take on ever increasing roles in senior leadership positions. This is especially true given that a good number of Baby Boomers are expected to leave the workforce in 2016.
The only challenge which HRs will face is preparing Millennials for these leadership positions. A study published by Deloitte showed that 64 percent of the surveyed Millennials felt “unprepared when entering the leadership role.” The most interesting aspect is that the Millennials surveyed were already in leadership positions.
For HRs, this means that focus will be on mentoring and developing Millennial leaders. As part of their succession planning, HRs may have to persuade Baby Boomers leaders to delay their retirements by an extra year in order to impart more of their wisdom and experience; and also to bolster the confidence of the emerging Millennial leaders.
Generation Z Enters The Workforce
In 2016, the first batch of Generation Z employees is expected to enter the US workforce. This will have numerous implications for the workforce.
First of all, it will mean that – for the first time ever – there will be up to four generations in the US workforce. These are the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennials and now Generation Z. For HRs, this will create a potentially complex situation in terms of motivation, communication and workplace culture. However, for HRs who have already successfully juggled three generations, having a fourth generation shouldn’t present such a challenge.
Even then, the Generation Z will likely present a unique set of challenges. The biggest challenge will be in terms of the information gap which exists as regards their workplace attitudes, ethics and expectations. Given that the Generation Z hasn’t been in the workforce before, any information which regards their workplace behavior is largely speculative.
The good news is that they are unlikely to arrive in droves. As such, the number of Generation Z-ers in any given workplace are unlikely to be large enough to rock the establishment. Even then, HRs will have to devote resources to try to understand these new entrants, and tap into the unique resources which they bring to the workplace.
In fact, Generation Z is expected to come with a wealth of positive attributes into the workforce. Generally speaking, they are expected to be great at multi-tasking, tech savvy, acutely aware of current events, entrepreneurial and driven to “change the world”. These are attributes which when properly harnessed will enable any organization to move to the next level. HRs should therefore begin preparing to ride on these unique attributes.
Freelance Workers & Temps Continue Their Dominance
Over the past two years, the number of US workers turning to freelancing has risen exponentially. It is estimated that close to a million US workers have been joining the freelance economy annually. This surge caused the Obama Administration to introduce new independent contractor regulations in 2015.
In 2016, this trend is set to continue. The freelance economy is expected to continue becoming a dominant section of the US workforce. Irrespective of their titles e.g. freelancers, independent contractors or temporary workers, their importance will only become more significant.
For HRs, this will present a unique opportunity. The availability of freelancers will mean that HRs will be able to access certain skills at specific times of need. As such, they will be able to enjoy the benefits of access to skills and talent – without incurring expenses such as healthcare.
For savvy recruiters, the freelance economy will also provide a unique opportunity for acquiring top talent. Already, some smart recruiters have resorted to engaging potential hires as temporary workers first. This provides them an opportunity to carry on-the-job assessment – an opportunity which is absent in the conventional recruitment processes. Ultimately, the continued dominance of freelancing and temps will create potentially exciting opportunities for HR professionals.
Technology Continues Its Expansion
Over the past few years, technology has been steadily growing as an integral part of the US workforce. This is set to continue in 2016. In fact, labor industry expert – Josh Bersin – recently stipulated that technology will potentially disrupt the US workplace in 2016. He outlined the 10 technology disruptions which HRs should expect in the workplace.
However, the influence of technology won’t just be disruptive. It will also provide major collaborative tools which will simplify numerous aspects of the workplace. As such, technology will be almost an aspect of talent in the 2016. Savvy HRs will position themselves to tap into the new technological resources in order to better achieve organizational goals.
Even then, the influence of technology may not be entirely positive. In some cases, as smartphones provide employees with instant access to social media, it can become a distraction at the workplace. As workers are distracted by a constant array of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds, their productivity can suffer.
Basically, technology will have a potential to be a double-edged sword in 2016. To harness the opportunities while minimizing the downsides, HRs will have to be vigilant, creative and flexible. Above all, they will have to pay attention to the emerging technologies which are relevant to their industry or sector.
New Legislations For The Workplace
The year 2016 is expected to see a slew of new legislations being introduced. For instance, there are moves to increase the Federal Minimum Wage from its current minimum of $7.5 per hour. The proposed rate is $15, although any increases within 2016 are likely to cap at $9 or $10 per hour. Irrespective of the rate, any increase will require an adjustment in both payment and overtime policies.
Besides the minimum wage, there are also moves to pass a federal “Ban the Box” law. The bill has already been tabled in Congress, and has bi-partisan support. As such, it is widely expected to be passed in 2016. Another bill which is already before Congress and is widely expected to be passed in 2016 is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
All these legislations will certainly impact HR in 2016. They will force HR departments to alter the relevant policies or create new ones altogether. Ultimately, any HR professional who desires to survive will have to keep abreast with these upcoming legislations.
In a nutshell, those are the top workforce trends which will impact HR professionals in 2016. They can easily be considered as the top HR trends 2016. Therefore, if you are an HR professional who desires to thrive in 2016, you need to pay attention to these trends, and position yourself to maximize opportunities and minimize the risks they will create. Cheers!