Workplace trends in 2017 will likely build on cultural and business environment developments that emerged in previous years, business experts say. Here's a look at five leading trends that may influence how business is conducted (and employees are managed) in your small business this year:
1. More attention will be paid to the treatment of job applicants.
When there's a surplus of qualified job candidates, businesses may often fail to acknowledge those who apply for positions within their companies but don't get them. With heated competition for talented prospects these days, businesses are coming to realize that these individuals deserve better treatment. As Forbes contributor, Dan Schwabel notes, "When employers don't notify candidates of their application status, they are discouraged from ever applying for another job at that company again, which further limits their talent pool."
2. The blended workforce will assume greater dimensions than ever.
The blended workforce--also referred to as the "gig economy"--will likely dominate the composition of US small business workforces in 2017 and beyond. A recent Paychex study showed that freelance resumes are on the rise as the contribution of independent contractors supplementing the work performed by employees is increasing. There's growing appeal among employers to utilize "on-demand workers" to address specific issues, thereby reducing payroll and insurance costs. Businesses will need to be vigilant to ensure they have classified workers correctly as employees or independent contractors.
3. Annual performance reviews may be headed for extinction.
Signs indicate that small businesses may follow the lead of high-profile large employers like Adobe and GE, which have eliminated the annual performance review from their human capital management portfolio. Critics contend that annual reviews fall short of genuine value because of a lack of consistency in specific performance criteria, the pace of business moves too quickly to get much benefit from a once-a-year performance evaluation, and technological innovations may eventually render this management exercise obsolete. Businesses will be "finding more ways to employ daily analytics and more opportunities to recognize and reward employees by task and meeting, not quarter or year," observes talent management expert Meghan Biro.
4. Wellness programs can serve as a key tool in attracting and retaining quality employees.
Already in place at businesses across the US, wellness programs are expected to see continued growth. A carefully designed wellness program can dramatically decrease absenteeism rates and save on employee healthcare expenses. Addressing work-related stress can result in a healthier workplace environment, a surefire benefit to loyal employees and prospective job-seekers alike. Simply put, "employers can't afford to ignore the benefits of employee wellness," which can also "give employers an advantage in recruiting and business performance."
5. Virtual reality emerges as a key recruitment tool.
When you see holiday season TV commercials for virtual reality toys, it's safe to assume virtual reality (VR) applications in the world of employment aren't far behind. In fact, many forward-thinking companies are already incorporating VR in the job candidate's "experience" of the interview and on-site tour process. For example, the cloud software provider BetterCloud offers virtual tours of the company's headquarters in New York and its engineering arm in Georgia. The company's VR two-minute "day in the life" offer candidates a 360-degree perspective that includes an introduction to potential co-workers and the candidate's likely workspace. Businesses also see a rich potential in leveraging VR for onboarding and training once a new hire has been selected.
These workplace trends may become more dominant as the year continues, but the only thing we all know for sure is that business will continue to be conducted at light speed, and small businesses must stay alert to any innovative approach that improves the quality of their products and enhances the employer's appeal to the ever-growing number of job-seekers in the marketplace.