Last month I addressed the top five issues that employers will face looking into the future. As a reminder the top five were: future pandemics/crises; talent acquisitions and retention; artificial intelligence and automation; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and mental health and well-being.
This month I will address the balance of my list. I guarantee you’ll be familiar with each business trend, but you might not have considered the profound impact each will have on the workplace.
6. Cybersecurity and data privacy:
Cyber-attacks and data breaches can and do result in significant financial and reputational damage to organizations. They can lock a business out of its operations. They can create risks and havoc for people who become exposed. Moreover, they can be expensive to negotiate and resolve. With the growth of AI, the tools at hackers’ fingertips are even more sophisticated. The issue should terrify every employer.
The solutions include loading up on the necessary cyber insurance, which understandably has become extremely expensive; training for employees and everyone who has access to your systems (including e-mail); developing and enforcing strict policies; and setting up preventive measures. This problem will continue to evolve and increase, and setting up these steps are not simple. Preparing and deploying systems and processes should be on today’s to-do list. Employers must continue to stay educated and updated on the latest threats and concerns to protect themselves and their employees.
7. Climate change and sustainability:
Yes, it’s an HR issue, too. Many employers are taking steps to reduce their workplaces’ carbon footprint by lowering energy consumption, promoting sustainable transportation options and reducing waste. Employers are considering implementing green initiatives such as composting, using eco-friendly products and reducing paper usage.
Many consumers are now choosing to support companies that prioritize sustainability. Employees – especially millennials and Gen Z — are increasingly concerned about the impact of a workplace on the environment when they consider a new job.
Embracing the idea of a sustainable workplace will require adapting policies and procedures, employee training and education, incentivizing green options such as alternative transportation, and transparency with employees and customers about your progress.
8. Agility and adaptability:
This can be much more of a challenge for larger employers, as adapting and responding rapidly to changing market conditions and customer needs takes time to work through layers of management and bureaucracy. In this fast-paced environment, customers can decide who is in and who is out before a company has a chance to respond.In my March column, I addressed the four-day work week, which is just one change that employers will need to open their minds to as expectations evolve.
Companies that can quickly evolve to meet changing market conditions, employee expectations and customer needs are more likely to thrive. Investing in infrastructure and technology, hiring highly adaptable people, and being nimble enough to encourage autonomy among management and staff are key.
9. Globalization and remote work:
The rise of remote work is transforming the way companies can expand, grow, hire and evolve. Companies have access to a global talent pool. Many employees are moving, traveling and working as digital nomads. All trends point to this not being a fad. Progressive-thinking employers are responding.The available global workforce also allows companies to expand their offerings worldwide. Having employees and clients remotely and globally offers new challenges such as managing a distributed workforce, working across various time zones, and accounting for cultural differences. They will also need to ensure that remote employees feel included and connected to company culture and values despite being miles apart.
10. Ethical corporate cultures:
Organizations that have an authentic cultural backbone are far more likely to attract and retain a workforce and create loyalty. Employees want to be cared for in a way that shows that their well-being is part of the organization’s strategic plan. For decades companies could hide behind their “Vision” or “Values” posters filled with buzzwords that were often inconsistent with how the company operated.Toxic workplaces are now being called out. There is nowhere to hide. Websites such as Glassdoor and everyday social media sites are riddled with information “outing” companies that attempt to skate by the needs of their employees, usually for the sake of higher profits. Today, one negative employee story can go viral and can reach the entire world. Future-minded workplaces will hire leaders who live and breathe values that align with the needs of their employees and the good of the world.
Every workplace will face most if not all of these 10 issues in the next several years. They are truly reshaping the future of work. Unless you develop a strategy to address each, you will be scrambling to react. But with the proper foresight, you can have a workplace that is ready to adapt and evolve — and stay ahead of those who have failed to plan for the inevitable.
Tina Hamilton is president and CEO of myHR Partner Inc., a Lehigh Valley human resources outsourcing firm that manages HR for clients in 34 states. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published in the Allentown Morning Call on May 28, 2023