A Look Forward to 2017 Employee Market Trends

2017 trend

Trends for 2017? It seems that at the end of every year the term “trend” pops up. What can be anticipated to continue, evolve and change? What will be brand spanking new? What’s in the cards that will cause the next disruption in the workplace?

Job openings hit an all-time high in 2016. Is this a trend that will continue? What other trends should we consider and anticipate in 2017?

Overall Employment Market Trend

In case you just woke up late in the year, you may not have realized that we are currently in the midst of a highly competitive and significant candidate driven employment market. If there ever was a time that the cliché ‘war for talent’ would be more heavily applied, it is now! Expect this trend to be with us for a few years yet. Supply and demand dictates.

Job seekers and existing employees have more leverage than ever before. Thought you felt the crunch in 2016? Just wait. Things are just heating up.

Forget running job ads, postings and the usual other easy picking tactics. If you want to land great candidates, you will need a much more strategic approach. Today’s most desirable candidates don’t have to look for a job. They are expecting their next employer to find them. This trend is can be expected to continue.

What does this mean for the companies looking for their next great hire? A return to good old fashioned headhunting is on the agenda. That will be the ticket to get candidates through the door. And then you just have to apply some extra effort to keep them there. What trend will you be adopting in 2017?

Emergence of Highly Focused HR Practitioners

With the significant shift in the employment market, today’s HR Practioner requires a fresh and different set of skills. The true Human Resource Professionals have moved well beyond overseeing payroll, benefits management, administrative functions and recruitment. Those areas are easily, sensibly and wisely outsourced to make time for other pressing issues.

What is expected of a talented HR Professional now? They must understand the long-term business plan, be strategic in their program management, make solid contributions at ‘the table’ and appreciate that the walls are coming down between Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Operations.

A new set of skills includes being able to initiate discussions about people analytics, Internet marketing, corporate branding, distributed workforces and embracing a deeper knowledge of new technologies that will support and drive Human Resources programs.

HR’s focus is shifting in many areas thanks to current trends:

  • Demand for the development of strategies to improve experiences for both candidates and employees. A recent study found that nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience when meeting with a potential employer. Online sites such as Glassdoor.com is attracting 72% of disappointed or angry interviewees to share their experience with the world.
  • Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation Agreements are being revisited. Many employers are increasing headcount and there just is not an abundance of available talent to choose from. Expect competitors to lure away quality employees. As this practice catches more steam, it will be necessary to revisit non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements while determining Intellectual property rights
  • Workforce planning will kick into high gear to align the requirements and priorities of the business with employment needs. This may have once been a straightforward task, but in today’s market conditions there are many reasons to factor in external elements such as industry disruptions, new or rapidly developing employment trends and the shift in talent availability.
  • Key Performance Indicators have changed. The annual performance review is now a thing of the past. It is fairly well accepted that the ‘agility’ of continuous, ongoing reviews is the new norm. Employees want to know where they stand. How their strengths can be further developed and how will they be supported to address their areas of improvement. This requires HR to regularly work with managers to ensure regular, rolling feedback exists between management and subordinates.

Adobe is one of the best examples of the advantages of implementing a ‘Check-In’ system. The company replaced annual performance reviews with an ongoing program.. Although ‘expectations’ continue to be set annually, individual feedback is given regularly. The result has been a 2% decrease in voluntary attrition.

GE developed a similar type of program called ‘Touchpoints’. The focus is on the results of daily developments and changing business demands. The company now enjoys a five times increase in productivity in their first year.

Take a read on this trend subject From Stack Ranking to Continuous Feedback

Income Trends & Expectations

chartoftheday_6240_salary_is_the_most_important_job_criterion_n For the past several years, salaries and bonuses in IT seem to have defied the basic laws of supply and demand. Even when demand skyrocketed, salaries and bonuses barely budged. That’s over now. Expect to see a real ‘bump’ in paychecks. Salary increases are now catching up with the competitive market – and fast. This is a trend we have not seen in many tears.

Don’t get fooled into believing the ‘salary reports’ that are sold to employers. Many organizations want to use salary surveys to set the compensation levels for their entire organizations. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as reading a survey and using the information. Salary reports are, at a minimum, 6 months old. This means they are out of date as soon as they are printed. It is far too late to use them when market conditions are as they are now.

Salary reports seldom, if ever, compare apples to apples. Job descriptions, education requirements, profiles and expectations are never exactly the same from company to company. Additionally, these reports never seem to acknowledge the major discrepancies between provinces or even between regions within a province. Other variables such as the size of an organization, its industry sector and operating budget all need to be factored in before setting things in stone. My recommendation is to talk with your peers in your own local market and trust them more than a salary report.

With the external market driving up wages, starting salaries must be adjusted for 2017. During an active candidate market, it is often less expensive to the organization to review existing employees every six months with the objective to bring them ‘up to market’. Replacing exiting employees, should they move on, is always going to be more costly and disruptive. Expect to pay a premium for a new hire, even though they are an unknown quantity. Correcting a great employee’s salary should always be the top priority.

salary trendThere is definitely a wage premium when someone is considering switching jobs. That ‘improvement’ is near its highest point in the last several years. Most experienced and skilled candidates know that leaving their current company is going to dramatically improve their salary. If you are hiring in 2017, don’t expect candidates to change jobs for the same money. There are just too many better alternatives available.

Base salaries are forecasted to rise by only 3% next year. The most talented performers can expect a 4.9% bump in income. Now compare that to the opportunity one has to increase their income with a job change — a minimum of 10% and upwards of 20%. These numbers are not uncommon.

What else can be considered in 2017? The emergence of the “boomerang employee”. This is the long term employee who leaves a company for greater opportunity and returns at a later time for a much higher salary. A trend we can expect to see more of.

The Blended Workforce

In 2017 expect that the workforce will continue to diversify – in a variety of ways. The term “gig economy” will be in full swing. (Gig refers to the hiring of contract or freelance employees who will fulfill specific requirements or complete a specific task for a defined period of time) More of these short-term employees will produce a new set of challenges for Team Managers and HR.

‘Flexible teaming’ options will become standard. This means the combination of project teams made up of full-time salaried employees, hourly contractors and outsourced labor who are all working ‘side-by-side’. The diverse workforce will provide a completely new outlook on the business. Will this mean a shift to an ‘on-demand’ labor force? Hard to say now, but the next five years will be telling because teamwork is going to be much more valued above individual performance.

Expect to experience an impact on how companies will recruit, hire, motivate and retain their workforces. Different sets of employees will have varying demands and multiple expectations. The ‘technology gap’ will widen, created by workers with various degrees of expertise, years of experience and working styles. Accommodating the differences that will present themselves will take skilled managers.

In 2017, more organizations will begin adopting the Silicon Valley strategy of creating cross-functional and cross-departmental teams. Departmental walls will be torn down to encourage collaboration. The removal of ‘silos’ will streamline information sharing and result in increased productivity – holistically.

Employee Flexibility Benefit

millenial-benefitsStudies show that millennial workers actually value flexible working hours and benefits such as Training and Development as being more important than pure income. This is a very strong trend.

The increased expectation of a more flexible work environment is a trend that will continue to develop in 2017. This may consist of designated remote working days, volunteering extra working time for additional vacation time, overtime traded for time off and/or support for continuing education during working hours.

Improving technology that makes it possible for businesses to eliminate the traditional 9-to-5 schedule will be particularly attractive to younger workers. Hyper-connected Millennial business leaders are creating work environments that give employees the flexibility over their schedules. With the utilization of appropriate technologies, staff have the ability to work when and where it suits them best. Enjoying independence will provide 100% effort.

Workplace flexibility is fast becoming a predominant means to attract and retain the best people.

Employee Experience & Engagement

Customer experience has long been regarded as an important function within an organization. Employee experience is now catching up. This trend is at the forefront.

Typically Employee Experience is made up of three key components – people/culture, technical environment and physical environment. When combined, these three elements impacts how the employee will interact, engage and connect within the company. By aligning all of the elements, the expectation is producing the desired behaviors needed to be successful.

In a recent talent management study it was discovered that 83% of HR believed Employee Experience is either important or very important to their organization’s success. When questioned on how that experience could be enhanced, the response was investing more in training (56%), improving the workspace (51%) and giving more rewards (47%).

stress_is_biggest_threat_to_workplace_health_nEmployee engagement is less about expense and more about the effort. Companies often fail because they don’t make enough effort. They may try, but they just don’t try hard enough or with enough commitment. Make your #1 trend in 2017 to create a best-in-class employee experience that is a definite safeguard for your company in the market we are experiencing now. Employee retention, attracting great people and encouraging collaboration and innovation are all impacted by Employee Experience. Making a solid effort helps organizations be better prepared when a shift happens in the landscape ahead.

A focus on Health and Office wellness is fast becoming a critical focus in 2017. Once considered to be an employee benefit, health and wellness are now regarded as a core cultural requirement. The company that believes in this program benefit from lowered absenteeism. When the employer makes a deliberate effort to encourage maintaining a work-life balance, employee engagement is strongly felt.

Embracing cloud technologies and mobile apps will become even stronger in 2017. These tools ensure a more flexible ‘behind the scenes’ work environment. Today’s wearable gadgets, like watches and FitBits are merging health and wellness with employee engagement issues. Expect this trend to become more prominent.

work from homeDigital is the new normal. Technology advances are transforming the employee experience. Supporting employee-empowered learning will be much more evident in 2017. Offering on the job MOOC (massive open online courses) enables employees to learn new technologies quickly, simply and in a supportive environment. All to the benefit of their employer.

What better way to get ahead and engage employees than building in self-governed learning? The future is here. Adopt a trend to develop the must-have skills the business needs for 2017 and forward. Is Big Data, Mobile Apps, IOT, etc. in your company’s future?

For more reading on what trend to look for The 2017 FORTUNE Magazine Crystal Ball

Merry, merry & Happy, happy 2017!



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