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A CHANGING LANDSCAPE: HR TRENDS

Throughout this edition of the newsletter, we’ve explored many of the factors distinguishing today’s and tomorrow’s leaders from their predecessors. These perceived differences have prompted numerous changes in the workplace, such as shifts in management style, job construct, team dynamics, and the likes; but how has the overall landscape changed to accommodate the specific needs and expectations of leaders in the making? In this month’s HR Trends article, we take a look at some of the interesting means that organizations are willing to take to “seduce” those who are just now stepping into the limelight.

Physical Environment

I remember asking my boss if we could someday consider installing a slide in the office rather than stairs after reading an article about new “hip and modern” office spaces. So, it may not be the most practical arrangement in our case (total disappointment)... but needless to say, big name companies out there are creating a whole new precedence with respect to office space. One train of thought is that immersing employees in a stimulating environment can provide them with just the right amount of inspiration to dream up that next BIG idea; just look at Google, Pixar, and Red Bull.

leadership

True, these are all companies with hefty budgets to invest in giving the office space a face lift; but regardless, office appeal is a factor that can help contribute to employee satisfaction in the workplace, especially in this day and age. More and more, concepts such as lounges, portable workstations, and other complimentary facilities (gyms, full-service cafeterias, etc.) are popping up in organizations we all know and work for – could this be on the way to becoming the new “norm”?

Given that the average professional spends a minimum of 40 hours a week in the workplace, does it really come as a surprise that we’re tending towards an environment that can offer us comfort and which we actually enjoy? I still think that slide would be a good idea...

Corporate Culture and Philosophy

It’s not just the face of the modern company that has undergone drastic changes; its heart and soul have followed suit! Apple’s almost cult-like culture became the focus of media around the whole world in the weeks following Steve Jobs’ passing. The company had a mystery to it; a culture which was completely its own. It was strong (too much for some to handle), it was integral, it was symbolic... and it played a great role in ensuring the success of the company that consistently ranks among the most successful worldwide.

One of the big advantages of being an entrepreneur and starting your company from scratch is that you have free rein with respect to setting its culture. For some, the terms “culture” and “philosophy” are still superfluous, but many top grade employees nowadays look to work for corporations with whom they share a similar vision or values; as such, the notion is not to be taken lightly! In fact, corporate culture is a representation of what the company stands for, inside and out. Those who walk the talk look to it for inspiration and direction. Whilst we cannot say that corporate culture has taken one particular tangent (no single philosophy is well suited for all organizations); we can say that the importance of the latter continues to grow in importance throughout all industries. With the war on talent still going strong, can a company still survive without a strong sense of self?

Technology

I’m pretty sure that 99% of children brought up in western countries in this day and age know how to operate a computer by the time they are five; they can use an IPhone better than you and I by the time they are seven (our cover kids proved it to me at the shoot) and can actually “figure out” most tech gadgets in under a minute. The upcoming generations of leaders have grown up in a world centered around technology and automation and heavily rely on these tools on a day-to-day basis.

Social technologies, technology productivity tools, information technology, instructional technology, you name it! Employees’ expectations continue to escalate with respect to the relative importance of these valuable tools in the workplace and a great amount of frustration can result from a company lagging in the integration of technology in operations. Furthermore, many organizations are luring younger generations of employees with promises of “state of the art” equipment, smart phones, and high-tech work environments. Knowing firsthand the extent to which these tools can facilitate processes and operations, it’s no wonder that the next generation of leaders will want to make the most of what technology has to offer!

Compensation and Benefits

Numerous issues are prompting organizations to re-assess the manner in which they approach compensation and the likes; we’re facing a continuing shortage of qualified professionals and decreasing levels of long-term commitment by employees. At the same time, we can observe an almost overwhelming search for balance between work and other facets of life. No company is bound by tradition when it comes to compensating and motivating their employees; so, why is it that most seem to resort to the same basic, standardized approach?

Ashley BourqueAs an organization, it’s important to really get a feel for what your employees want and to be willing to think outside the box. The thing is, you can offer your employees a variety of options that don’t necessarily imply any additional costs for the organization, but rather increase your chances of touching upon something that is meaningful to each employee. Some look for time off, others for bonuses, others for perks such as car allowance, travel, etc... and for others, simple recognition and opportunities do the trick. Make sure that your compensation and rewards packages are flexible and offer options... Better yet, make sure that these options are clearly communicated to employees! Want to engage and motivate your workforce? Involve them, seek out their input, sit back, and take notes.

The next generations of leaders are far more complex than those past; understanding them requires openness and meeting their needs and expectations requires adaptability and flexibility. Is your organization ready to take on those generations to come? Time to start giving these elements some thought...

Happy reading,

Ashley Bourque

Assessment and Evaluation Consultant