What 2017 Workplace Trends Mean for Senior Managers and Executives
— October 31, 2017
Anywhere you look these days you’ll see Donald Trump.
Settling into his new job in his own inimitable way.
Whatever nickname feels cathartic for you, it’s hard to deny his impact on the global scene.
From climate change to foreign policy, to “fake news” and alternative facts, to trade and immigration, his indisputably erratic opinions and actions are likely to touch your life, your career, your team—and your company’s business this year.
And yet, he’s just one guy.
So much has happened this year, Trump-related and otherwise.
Here’s our list of top 4 workplace trends of 2017, as we prepare to wrap up this very unusual year.
1) THE MIGRATORY WORKFORCE
Sodexo puts out an annual study that links workplace trends to world affairs. And discussing the influence of migratory workers is one area they handled particularly well this year.
In the aftermath of Brexit—and with migrant workers still streaming into the EU—employers are figuring out how, if at all, to integrate the new workers and how to find the talent they need.
A few examples:
- McDonald’s in Germany has hired more than 900 people. But doing so required that they offer online German language certification for some 20,000 people.
- Microsoft provided desktop computers to refugees in the same country to help them take said courses, and to look for work online.
- No surprise to you, tension still abounds throughout Europe with the assimilation of these workers. And after a new ruling, it’s official that Uber drivers in London will be forced to learn English.
This melting pot scenario (migrant workers + local EU or UK culture + American corporation) is a trend we’ll be seeing more of.
But that’s only one side of the immigration story. There’s also Trump’s travel ban which, well, we all know how popular that’s been.
Let’s just say that Silicon Valley engineers with green cards are being welcomed into Canada. So watch for Canadian expansion of some U.S. tech firms. In fact, Amazon Vancouver is looking to hire 700+ people in 2017.
An uptick in the creation of Canadian tech startups this year is predicted to follow.
Don’t forget about the infamous “wall” Trump has promised to build between the U.S. and Mexico.
This, if it happens, has all sorts of manufacturing and trade implications for American and international businesses. Not to mention for the labor market, both skilled and unskilled.
However, don’t hold your breath on that one.
As cynical American comedian Bill Burr joked…
“How long is it going to take to build that wall? How much is it going to cost? How many times are you going to go to Home Depot? How big is this thing going to be? Look how long it took to build the Freedom Tower, and we wanted that. That took 15 years. By the time they build that thing we’re gonna be the ones going over it.”
But seriously, how prepared is your company for change of this magnitude?
How prepared are you?
What if you no longer have access to the talent you want, and the talent available lacks the skills you need…including speaking your language? How might you make up any skill gaps in your own work?
All food for thought when you’re partnering with HR on your workforce plans, and when working on annual employee development plans with your team.
2) MINDFULNESS IN AN AGILE WORKPLACE
Mindfulness is a trend that cuts across all others this year.
As organizations are becoming more fluid in the way they work, people are being asked to move beyond the boundaries of a job description and a single, stable work location.
This uncertainty can prove exciting for some personalities, and stressful for others.
While Facebook became famous for mentally intensive activities like all-night hackathons that promote cross-functional collaboration, they also have an onsite meditation room to mitigate the stress.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff installed a meditation room on each floor of their new San Francisco headquarters. Apparently, the 30+ Buddhist monks who live periodically at his Silicon Valley compound had something to do with the decision.
The Cleveland Clinic, who hosts an annual medical innovation summit, piloted an eight-week meditation program.
According to Jennifer Hunter, their Wellness Director, “what we found is that when employers make a real commitment to building resiliency in their workforce, the benefits are sustainable.”
A full year after the stress reduction program, participants reported:
- A 31 percent decrease in stress levels
- A 28 percent increase in vitality, a measure of how energized a person feels throughout the workday
So there’s clearly a connection between innovation, agility and mindfulness emerging in the workplace.
Where is your company on the innovation/mindfulness spectrum?
If it’s still a taboo topic, or is viewed by your C-Suite as fluff, perhaps this is an opportunity for you to lead the way. The risk is easy to disprove and the benefits are hard to dispute.
3) THE BLURRING OF PERSONAL AND CORPORATE BRANDS
It looks like 2017 has been the year that personal branding evolved its brand.
According to the Sodexo study:
- Corporate brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when an employee posts on their own personal social/web channels them versus the company’s
- Employees who blend their company’s brand with their own via social media are 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future, and are…
- 20% more likely to stay at their company
- 40% more likely to believe their company is more competitive
At Adobe, after a single employee drove more social traffic to their website than the company’s official Twitter presence, they launched a social media boot camp for their people.
Doing so has proven to ensure consistency of message whether you’re communicating human to human, or corporate channel to human.
While it’s always been true that a strong company brand benefits your personal brand, 2017 is the year of the reverse. The better your brand is as a professional, the more your company reaps the rewards.
Thanks to the continual and unabashed explosion of social media, companies around the world are waking up to this reality.
Things to consider:
Do you know your company’s social media policy?
Even if you’re in the know, make sure your team knows the rules about sharing company content. Many people have been fired for sharing content inappropriately over social channels related to work, or in a work setting.
Encourage your people to develop their brands. Set an example for them by polishing up your own.
4) WOMEN ARE STANDING UP
Earlier this year we had International Women’s Day. Or, “A Day without Women.”
No doubt, the Cheeto in Chief has sparked a revolutionary spirit in women. They are protesting and speaking up around the world like never before.
However, the Women’s Day protest involved women staying home from work. Their absence affected businesses, airlines, hospitals, schools, families and more.
Their sheer numbers created social and traffic disruptions worldwide, making it harder for those who were pursuing the status quo to commute to work.
Expect this disruption to continue, and for women to seek a redefinition of their role in business.
Whoever you are, whatever your role, this kind of movement—and indeed all of these trends— create opportunities for you to flex your emotional intelligence muscles.
But maybe more importantly, it forces us to look closely at what unites us, and what divides us: In life, in work and in ourselves.
Emotional intelligence is something Donald Trump seems to lack in spades.
Even Alec Baldwin has said he can no longer play him on SNL.
Earlier this week he said:
“The maliciousness of this White House has people very worried, which is why I’m not going to do it much longer by the way, the impersonation. I don’t know how much more people can take it.”
There’s an old Chinese curse that warns: “May you live in interesting times.”
And indeed we do.
Keep your eyes open, your mind calm and your heart light.