Human Capital Management

Five Ways to Make Employees Happy in 2017

Where should leaders focus to attract and retain top talent this year?

by Emily Klein

March 2017

In my work with companies around the world, I am seeing five major trends dominate conversations about the workforce and workplace. Gallup workplace data indicates 51% of employees are open to or considering new jobs this year, so organizations would do well to keep their eye on – and investments in – these areas in the year ahead to attract and retain top talent.

Work Flexibility

Flexibility in the workplace continues to be a platform under which employee mobility can flourish. In 2017, we are seeing employers continue to rethink their corporate footprint, redesigning offices to architect a fluid workspace that inspires creativity, productivity and mobility. Those same companies are now in need of data that shows how effectively redesigned spaces are being utilized to understand business impact and return on investment. Companies that use space management planning tools such as Serraview, for example, pinpoint workplace utilization and spare capacity metrics to gain insight on cost efficiencies when redesigning offices that match mobile workstyles.

Sitting in a cubicle all day long is increasingly considered a workplace hazard in attracting top talent. Given schedule complexities that govern daily lives, employees want freedom in how and where they work. Before applying for any position, candidates will continue to assess corporate brands in multiple ways. These include reviewing feedback on sites such as Glassdoor and InHerSight to discern how an organization invests in corporate culture, whether it offers a variety of workspaces in which to collaborate, and whether it invests in the latest technologies to work anywhere, anytime.

Corporate Coworking

Work flexibility and mobility helped birth the hyper-growth of coworking spaces across globe in recent years. As we started to see last year, 2017 will bring coworking concepts to traditional companies in more meaningful ways. Companies are experimenting with coworking by bringing teams of employees to coworking spaces – or by replicating the experience in their own offices to foster community and collaboration that hatch new ideas in the workplace.

As we fully grasp the social ramifications of trends and changes in the workplace, one thing remains constant: 2017 is sure to bring more disruption and exciting times to come.”

Companies will also continue to prioritize innovation centers, inviting customers and traditional and non-traditional partners to work alongside them. These groups will create a diverse ecosystem that acts as an accelerator, unearthing new ideas that solve problems while also cultivating a unique talent pipeline.

Artificial Intelligence

2016 was the year many realized AI may take over our lives and jobs in the future in ways we cannot conceive of today. While AI is already changing our lives with chat bots and robotics, it won’t render all jobs obsolete any time soon. We will, however, continue to wrestle with the impact AI will have in the workplace in three to five years with the growth of bots.

How much every generation needs to understand these changes as they make career choices across a lifecycle will be increasingly important. Helping students prepare for the future by assessing the impact of AI across all disciplines will aid in shaping choices that early-career professionals make as they start their careers.

Purpose-Driven Organizations

Not long ago, I met Luther Richardson, a recent graduate and an employee at Radius Bank in Boston, who shared what he was looking for in a career. Luther was clear that the need for satisfaction and purpose-orientation at work was a driving force for him, and by extension, for his generation – the bridge of Gen Y and Gen Z.

Companies that capture the hearts and minds of early career professionals like Luther maintain competitive advantage in the war for talent. 71% of the millennial generation is not engaged or is actively disengaged at work. Companies need to strategically and proactively connect them with the big picture to engage them, according to Gallup workplace research. Doing so strengthens their roles in the corporate ecosystem and demonstrates how their work helps achieve organizational mission and vision. If companies in 2017 can’t connect the dots between the mission of what their products and services offer and the why, employees will remain unengaged and seek gainful employment elsewhere.

Thought Leaderklein-headshot

Emily Klein, Principal at Flexwork Global, partners with companies to transform how and where people work by bringing innovative thinking and best practices to meet the needs of a growing mobile workforce. Klein is a co-author of Workshift: Future-Proof Your Organization for the 21st Century.

Learning and Development

In 2017, we are continuing to see that lifelong learning is more important than ever. Studying in your youth and staying with a job for a lifetime is increasingly rare. A constant need for competency development continues to be necessary as static skillsets are becoming obsolete at a faster pace. Learning and development trends are constantly evolving, and how we learn has changed from training courses of yesteryear.

Companies that offer brief, targeted and modular learning experiences for their workforce allow for active learning and problem solving. Moving away from traditional training programs that don’t engage employees, and finding creative ways to develop and reward individuals and teams, will become the norm in 2017. In addition, technology training for underserved populations will grow with the expansion of organizations such as MotherCoders and TechHire. And a plethora of apps that support ongoing learning from anywhere – such as Lynda, Udemy, Coursera and Codeacademy – will continue to grow.

As we fully grasp the social ramifications of trends and changes in the workplace, one thing remains constant: 2017 is sure to bring more disruption and exciting times to come.

Photography by Shutterstock