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9 Workplace Trends For 2015: What Could Happen & How to Prepare

1. Generational shifts will increase

In 2015, millenials will become the largest generation in the workforce as baby boomers continue to retire in droves. And the Buffalo-Niagara region is no exception. As of June 2014, 16% of the Buffalo-Niagara jobs were held by baby boomers and job growth for millennials was at 9% and increasing. This generational shift from baby boomers to millennials will create challenges for companies both regionally and nationally.

So, how can you prepare? Educate employees on generational differences and similarities. Create cross-generational teams to avoid group think and offer diversity of thought and perspective to projects. Finally, tailor recruiting, talent development, and communication practices to best appeal to an increasing millennial population.

2. Added emphasis on education and training

A major concern associated with generational shifts is millennials holding management positions without the proper training. Therefore it is no surprise that education and training will be a major focus in 2015, especially for millennials. This emphasis on training is by no means a new trend – in fact, the United States’ spending on corporate training grew by 15% in 2013 to over $70 billion.

So, how can you prepare? Traditionally when business declines companies cut training budgets, then as business grows they ramp back up. Try to avoid these slumps by budgeting conservatively for training through upswings as well as downturns.

3. The skills gap continues to widen

We all hoped this would not be the case as we close in on 2015 but it is. The skills gap continues to be an enormous challenge for companies looking to keep pace with an improving economy and increasing hiring needs. In fact, 54% of employers currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates - and 35 percent of all employers have positions that stay open for 12 weeks or longer.

So, how can you prepare? A) Identify the skills gap through assessment B) Map a plan to fill the gap C) Make training a ‘must have’, not a ‘nice to have’ D) Identify measurable outcomes

4. Increased emphasis on mobile hiring and the mobile job search

Did you know 83% of job seekers currently use smart phones to search for job openings yet only 20% of Fortune 500 companies have a mobile friendly career site? It is unfortunate that even the most successful of companies have yet to optimize their websites or applications for mobile devices, causing them to miss out on viable candidates and business.

So, how can you prepare? If your company hopes to attract top-level, tech-savvy employees you need to optimize your website for mobile and list open positions on various job search mobile apps (Monster, Linkedin, Career Builder, etc.).

5. Utilize social media to attract and retain talent

Social media’s role in recruiting top-level talent is intensifying as competition for tech-savvy workers continue to grow. Now, more than ever, companies need to invest in their social media presence. In fact, a recent study showed fifty-eight percent of people are more likely to want to work at a company that is actively involved in social media.

So, how can you prepare? If you have not already, start embracing social media’s potential upside. Blogging, posting and content creation are not easy – but they are critical recruiting platforms that will not be going away anytime soon.

6. Succession planning becomes a bigger focus

Companies should acknowledge the domino effect that accompanies baby boomers in high-ranking positions retiring. But they are not. Actually, 19% of companies are not planning on drafting and/or putting into effect a fully empowered succession plan.

So, how can you prepare? A) Ensure the company has a solid foundation of profitability and growth B) Work with your company’s leaders to co-develop their exit strategy C) Minimize leaders’ risk D) Strengthen systems and processes E) Identify gaps between the required leadership and the existing talent pool

7. Workplace flexibility

Employers will continue to work with employees to design an optimal work-life balance. Doing so establishes buy-in from both sides, broadens the talent pool, increases morale and adds value. 

So, how can you prepare? Several processes must be in place to ensure the success of flexible workplaces – such as: A) Start viewing flexibility as imperative, not an employee perk B) Offer training for virtual workers C) Conduct on-going research D) Refine communication techniques E) Measure results

8. Reshaping the temporary workforce perception

Like my co-worker, Chris Schichtel noted in an earlier blog post, today’s post-recession job market has caused a shift in the way companies are hiring. As a result temporary and contract employees have become increasingly valuable. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of temps has jumped more than 50% since the last recession ended four years ago.

So, how can you prepare? Companies looking to decrease workforce costs could begin relying more heavily on contingent workers. The non-traditional workforce is here to stay with freelancers, contractors, and independent consultants are available to take on any skill or task.

9. Retention will become increasingly challenging

As the economy improves, and unemployment drops, retention challenges will arise. Employees will begin looking for their next professional opportunity causing increased competition for high-quality talent.

So, how can you prepare? Use data to quantify the supply and demand for specific talent pools. Then illustrate how competition will impact your hiring strategy. Encourage senior management to place a premium on top performers. Find out how to keep top performers fulfilled. 

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