Shifting Trends in the Work-Life Ethos

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In a recent 2015 study: “Global Human Capital Trends 2015” 3,200 employees from 100 countries were surveyed. Driven by shifts in both the meaning of work and the transparency of job markets, employee retention and engagement came out as the #1 problem companies face.

The results showed that 87% of companies rate “retention, engagement, and culture” as important imperatives and 50% rate them as “urgent.” The #2 trend is the need to build a global leadership pipeline.

“Too often management itself is not driving the right behaviors to make people want to stay.”

Although corporate culture is a hot topic, most companies reported they are struggling with their culture because of a variety of factors. First, millennials now make up the largest part of the workforce, and they demand flexibility, mobility, and accelerated development. Second, every company’s employment brand is now “on the internet,” so if a company has weak management or a poor working environment, people know about it. Third, companies have not kept up with their leadership development and performance management practices. Often management itself is not driving the right behaviors to make people want to stay.[1]

According to the study, one of the biggest factors may be focused on training and learning. The research shows that the #3 priority issue is the need to revamp and improve employee learning. This is not only a problem of skills development, but also one of engagement. The research shows that companies with high performing learning environments rank in the top for employee engagement.

Another major finding was that HR skills remain a challenge. 80% of companies believe HR skills are an issue and 39% rate this problem “urgent.” This means HR professionals owe it to their organizations to take the time and money to develop themselves. Rotational assignments, bringing non-HR people into the department and better training are all part of the solution. In fact, one overlooked reason for the retention problems may be found in the HR selection process.

More than 60% of companies believe their work environment is too complex.

The majority of companies also felt that better analytics are a high priority. Moreover, many companies are very focused on fixing performance management with almost 60% of those surveyed already in the process of re-engineering the process of capturing and analyzing data.

Last year’s study indicated that many employees were “overwhelmed” and how important it was for companies to make life easier at work. This most recent study found that one of the biggest new trends is “The Simplification of Work” More than 60% of surveyed companies believe their work environment is too complex. Indeed, one question to ask is: Is the modern company and society in general becoming too complex? Are we starting to bump up against a new limitation or is it just another an indication that we need to re-evaluate how we can either meet the challenges of complexity or take a deeper look and ask what we want from work.

Just take a look at this political season. It surely seems to be sending a message that most of the talking heads aren’t talking about: Are the American values of competition, innovation and self-sufficiency changing? Perhaps it’s time to look inward and away from all of the distractions of the past pursuit of “the American Dream” and examine that dream for what it might be now and maybe even redefine what it means today and what values are best suited to pursue that dream.



Additional Reading

Top Facilitator Tip: Creating a “Maximum Learning Environment”

Increasing Human Intelligence in the Post Industrial Age

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