3 Workforce Trends For Businesses to Consider in 2020 And Beyond

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As 2019 draws to a close, businesses everywhere are taking stock and trying to forecast what the new year is going to look like for them. In some cases, they go no further than to examine their bottom-line results and look for ways to run even leaner and more efficient operations. It’s easy for a business’s employees to get lost in the mix when that happens.

That’s because bottom-line results and the people that make them possible don’t always seem as inextricably linked as they really are. For that reason, businesses plotting their productivity strategies for 2020 and beyond have to make a concerted effort to put the needs and desires of their employees front and center. To help with that effort, here are three workforce trends for businesses to consider when creating their strategies for the coming years.

An Agile Environment is Desirable

With businesses of all kinds now placing renewed emphasis on the employee experience, it’s getting harder to find ways for employers to stand out from the pack. It’s no longer sufficient to rely on benefits packages and perks to keep workers happy and engaged. Now, it’s also critical to create work environments that encourage collaboration, innovation, and employee well being.

That need has given rise to the popularity of what’s now known as an agile work environment. Businesses that embrace this workplace style work to create spaces to suit different employee needs. In general, it requires workspaces dedicated to:

  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Collaboration
  • Meetings
  • Relaxation
  • Privacy

In an agile environment, employees are free to move between these spaces as needed and occupy them on a first-come-first-serve basis. It’s the next generation of the now-despised open office concept, and it recognizes that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to workspace efficiency – and early results seem to indicate that workers appreciate the change.

Employee Development is a Must

In the past, businesses were apt to look at employee development programs as something meant to serve their business needs alone. For that reason, development opportunities were scant, and no central strategy existed to keep employees learning and growing at all times. Going into 2020 that simply won’t cut it anymore.

Surveys have now indicated – in dramatic fashion – how critical employee development is to both engagement and retention. In one such survey, some 92% of respondents ranked professional development as important or very important to them as a factor in their career decisions. Yet another revealed that a third of workers had quit a job in search of better development opportunities.

To avoid such losses and to keep employees productive, happy, and engaged, businesses must make a renewed effort to embrace continuous professional development as a key part of their strategies going forward. Doing so requires a minimal upfront investment, and provides benefits well in excess of the associated costs. And as anyone who’s ever tallied the cost of replacing a single high-skill employee can tell you – retention is the best option is every case.

Workplace Culture is Crucial

Although it may seem trite to mention workplace culture, as it’s a topic that’s received vast amounts of attention of late, it’s still deserving of mention here. The reason is that 2020 will mark the year that the last of Generation Z emerges from college and enters the workforce. That will signal the beginning of a new generational shift for businesses – and it’s going to be a big one.

Businesses should already know from their marketing efforts that Gen-Z is a particularly socially-conscious generation. Their attitudes within the workforce are no different, and the effects of that are already evident. In fact, surveys have indicated that as many as 86% of today’s workers wouldn’t join a company with a poor reputation, or would quit if they already worked for one. That means one thing: workplace culture is now king.

Having a positive workplace culture is a good thing for more than that reason, though. It’s also been amply demonstrated that companies with a positive workplace culture are more productive than their competitors. As we move into a new decade, and with workers now demanding a voice in how the companies they work for operate, creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture should be a priority for every business.

Plan and Prosper

Right now, any company that wants to gain an edge on its competition while enjoying a workforce that will drive it to all new heights would do well to pay attention to these three trends. As the new decade wears on, their importance is likely to grow and only businesses who keep them in mind will navigate the necessary changes with little to no disruption in their operations. Those that don’t face the prospect of losing their best workers and seeing their talent pools run dry as the next generation flocks to companies that understand their priorities. It should be more than obvious which side of that particular divide it’s advantageous to be on – so the time to plan and act is now.

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