Our workplaces have changed a lot over the past few decades. They’re always evolving, keeping pace with the latest technologies, large-scale social transformations, and new levels of human freedom. Sometimes these changes are quite slow, but there are moments in human history that can cause business owners, government officials, and other policy-makers to speed this process up.
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be a historical event of this kind. It has affected our workplaces dramatically. Now we’re all wondering which of these innovations are temporary and which ones are here to stay. In any event, employers have gained a new perspective they wouldn’t have developed otherwise, and they have more info to act upon and make decisions about this. Here are some of the most important trends we’re already seeing in our workplaces that are all about the future.
Surely the most obvious change we’ve experienced since the start of the epidemic is a huge increase in remote work. Of course, many companies started utilizing telecommuting a while ago, but many others first introduced it only recently as a response to social distancing measures.
So what are the consequences of this massive experiment? A lot of businesses have realized that they have increased productivity and/or cut expenses after most of their employees started working from home. Surely, this fact wasn’t unheard-of before the crisis, and giants like AT&T or Dell reported they had saved millions of dollars thanks to different telework initiatives. But only now it is becoming a fact wide-spread enough that we can expect it to cause changes on a global scale.
Moreover, remote work suits employees as well. As much as 91% of them say telecommuting is a good fit for them, and 37% would agree to receive a 10% pay cut in exchange for working from home. Also, the number of available different jobs that can easily be done from any spot on the planet is on the rise, so telecommuting seems like one of the trends that will only grow in popularity.
Emphasis on work-life balance
If we want to understand the workplace of the future, we need to recognize that the upcoming generations have different priorities. Chasing more and more money at whatever cost doesn’t seem too appealing to millennials and Generation Z. This should turn out to be beneficial for companies as well, as we can expect more productive workers once the stress levels start to fall. Namely, a staggering 60% of workers experience performance drops as a consequence of chronic work-related stress.
Of course, businesses will have to adapt to this reality. The best salaries are not sufficient to attract the best talent anymore. The new generation’s priority is to have the best possible balance between work and life and to have an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest. That’s why we’ll see companies investing a lot in employee experience. This includes providing some essentials such as sick leave or flexible hours, but also some apparently less important perks like cozy offices, game rooms, or creative team building ideas. Organizations will have to adapt their entire cultures to this new set of employee demands.
Some companies even allow power naps at work. It may sound silly, but it’s actually perfectly sensible given that the effects of sleep deprivation include lack of focus, poor memory, emotional stress, and erratic behavior. It seems that in the future, businesses will want their workers to be stress-free and well-rested so that they can truly excel at their jobs.
A certain amount of flexibility from both employers and employees is becoming a must for any successful company. We’ve already seen that workers will expect less rigidity about when they will work and where they will work from. But we’ll also see executives expecting employees to show some adaptability.
Most businesses of the future will have their work processes and activities dictated by new technologies as well as their ever-changing markets. This means they’ll need some quick learners on the team, who should even be ready to unlearn some of the things they know in order to adjust to new circumstances.
Furthermore, the focus of employee training will be acquiring a wider set of skills and cross-functional knowledge that can prepare them to jump in new positions whenever necessary. In combination with increased talent mobility, this will allow companies to scale their business easily.
You don’t really have to be a prophet to anticipate artificial intelligence taking a large part in the workplace of the future. Up to 47 percent of US jobs might be at risk of being completely automated in the next 20 years.
This makes it even more important for workers in many branches to diversify their skills if they want to survive in the new, AI-driven reality. As Marc Andreessen, a famous American entrepreneur put it – in the future, there will be two types of jobs: people who tell computers what to do and people who are told what to do by computers.
AI already has a significant influence on the world of business today. Different AI-backed softwares help companies streamline workflows and increase productivity. They collect and interpret massive amounts of data that affect practically all important business decisions. And because they’re basically self-learning and self-teaching algorithms, they’ll only get better at it.
Fewer long-term commitments
We’ve already seen that new circumstances will lead to a lot more flexibility at work, in terms of talent mobility, diversification of skills, and roles and positions that are not as well-defined as in the old days. This will have another important consequence. It will inevitably lead to a less stable job market, which means fewer long-term contracts and more contingent workers.
And it’s already happening. More than 90 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. The fact that there are more and more independent short-term projects and on-demand work has influenced a huge increase in the number of freelancers, and this increase won’t be stopping any time soon. Thirty-six percent of Americans are freelance workers, with this number predicted to hit the 50-percent mark as early as 2027.
Given the convenience of freelancing and the evolution of different platforms for freelancers, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. However, the gig economy has many downsides, and the never-ending uncertainty it entails can be stressful and overwhelming. Freelancing is a great path to take when it’s a matter of choice, but when it’s a matter of no choice, it can be difficult and distressing.
As always, the workplaces of the future will shape the workers of the future. These places will be exciting and unpredictable, but also vicious sometimes. And this job market will demand dynamic, agile, and versatile candidates that can adapt quickly and fit multiple different roles.
That is, if there are no major surprises in the forthcoming years. But we’ve seen we can’t take that for granted. We have no idea just how bad the consequences of the current epidemic-induced crisis could be, let alone predict what the decades ahead of us will look like. We can only be sure they won’t be boring.
Compelling Statistics about Workplace Discrimination
Today’s modern workplace is one that is inclusive, diverse, and collaborative. This is partly due to advancing technologies like the internet and open concepts and environments.
People from all over the world are more connected than they’ve ever been before because there is a need to collaborate for the projects they are working on and produce an outcome that is favorable for them and the company in general.
There is also more care for the company’s culture and the employees’ morale, mental health, and work-life balance. By making these a priority, employees have become more productive and happy, and the company more successful. However, this is not the case for all organizations.
Defining Workplace Discrimination
Recently, discrimination has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. All over the world, many instances of discrimination, ranging from gender, race, age, disability, citizenship status, sexual orientation, medical condition, marital status, religion, and national origin, to name a few, have been put in the global spotlight.
Unfortunately, the majority of these types of discrimination occur in the workplace. Work or employment discrimination can be defined as treating someone in the workplace differently or less favorably than others because of their race, color, age, religion, sex, gender identity, and so on.
Employment discrimination also includes harassment by managers and co-workers, denial of reasonable workplace change based on religious beliefs or disability, improper questions about or disclosure of genetic or medical information, and retaliation from the company after an employee files an investigation or lawsuit against them.
There are many instances of unconscious bias and workplace discrimination, some beginning even before an employee starts working with the company. Even during the hiring process, a company can discriminate against an applicant.
Common Types of Discrimination and Their Effects
The International Labour Organization (ILO) blames the continuing discrimination on prejudices, stereotypes, and biased institutions that have resisted legal efforts and policy measures made by governments, organizations, workers, and employers against unequal treatment at the workplace.
The most common types are subconscious and systematic or institutionalized discrimination. Subconscious discrimination or unconscious bias is the behavior that stems from learned stereotypes that will automatically show up when interacting with people. This type can be harder to prove because it is more subtle unless reflected in its atmosphere.
Systematic or institutionalized discrimination occurs regularly in the workplace because it is an inherent part of its culture and practices, thereby creating a disadvantage for people who are different from their more preferred employees.
Aside from being morally wrong, discrimination in the workplace often traps people in low paid, informal economy jobs. Meaning, the discriminated population will get stuck in the worst jobs and be denied benefits, social protection, training, capital, land, or credit. What’s more, women are more likely to be engaged in the more invisible and undercounted activities than men.
The ILO presented a report that shows those who suffer from discrimination, particularly based on their sex and race, face a persistent equality gap. This gap divides them from dominant groups who enjoy a better life or benefit from anti-discrimination laws and policies.
Workplace Discrimination in Numbers
Since it was established in1997, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been investigating charges of discrimination against an employee or job applicant and enforcing laws that protect employee rights. It has received over 1.8 million complaints since then.
Workplace discrimination is illegal in the U.S.; however, studies have also shown that despite state and federal laws addressing discrimination based on race, there are still biases against hiring black and Hispanic employees in over two decades.
Of the 1,889,631 discrimination complaints EEOC received from 1997 to 2018, 49% were cases of retaliation, 34% were race-related, 32% disability, and over 30% were based on sex. From the total number of cases, 64% were officially dismissed as having found no issue after investigation, while only 3.2% were considered for legal action.
In addition, 18.3% were closed for administrative reasons, 8.1% were settled, 4.8% were withdrawn by the charging party, and 1.4% resulted in an informal resolution between parties. According to the government agency, cases closed for administrative reasons include the charging party deciding not to pursue the case, lack of communication, or withdrawal request from the charging party.
Steps to Take Against Discrimination
In light of the high numbers of discrimination cases, companies should work hard in eradicating workplace discrimination. But this can be done successfully only if everyone is involved in promoting a culture of equality and diversity and equal opportunities for all. Here are some ways to reduce and eradicate workplace discrimination in your company:
- Analyze your current employee population and form a committee for equality and diversity. Ensure that the members came from diverse backgrounds. Set goals and policies that would enable the company and the employees to grow. A company that embraces diversity will reap the benefits of having a wider talent pool, which translates to improved productivity, a broader market, and a raised profile within the community.
- During the hiring process or recruitment, treat all applicants fairly and equally. Evaluate each against the same set of criteria. Another way to evaluate applicants fairly is to have a panel interview so that more than one person gets to decide who the best candidate out of all the applicants is.
- In terms of compensation and benefits, ensure that no employee is compensated any more or less than their other colleagues based on their race, sex, gender identity, religion, or disability. Offer the same benefits that all employees in that level are enjoying. For employees with children, offer both maternity and paternity leaves.
- Review your current work policies and processes, or ask a lawyer to review them for you. Make changes wherever necessary. These may include implementing a comprehensive equal opportunities policy, training employees in sensitivity and diversity issues, providing accommodations for those with disabilities, and setting disciplinary actions. Establish open communication to report incidences of discrimination and treat them seriously, sensitively, and confidentially.
- In the office, install wheelchair ramps and other accessibility options. Have a room where employees can do prayers, mothers can pump milk, and they can have some quiet time. Make sure that all employees can access the same office facilities and amenities.
- When it comes to promoting an employee, ensure that all have an equal opportunity for promotion regardless of their sex, gender identity, race, etc. At the same time, provide equal opportunity for training and ensure that everyone has access to mentors.
End Discrimination Today
Discrimination in the workplace will not vanish by itself, but failure to eradicate it helps perpetuate poverty, creating an intricate web wherein the discriminated will continue to experience a low quality of life or social exclusion.
By eliminating discrimination, individuals, businesses, and society at large will benefit: a boost in one’s self-esteem and morale, enhanced productivity and competitiveness of companies, and a better economy.
5 steps to shape company culture around hybrid work- Are you ready for the big change?
You are probably going to lose a major chunk of your workforce if you’re planning to call your employees back to the office full-time. According to Microsoft’s recent survey, 74% of employees are keen on flexible remote work options. Meaning- The future of work is here and it is hybrid. With the current business ecosphere showing employee dominance, your best bet is to go hybrid.
Nevertheless, historically, it has been seen how employees slack off if they aren’t within the sight of their boss/manager. Or has this been passed on as a baseless claim? Some managers do have their insecurities as they feel employees are working in the dark. Though they are suffering from “perceived work productivity” syndrome, their concern cannot be completely brushed off.
This is where the need for a balanced and apt hybrid work culture comes into picture.
Before the pandemic, merely 15% of companies, as per a survey, had flexible working policies. That jumped to 76%in the year 2020 with the pandemic casting a shadow over the world. While shrinking global economies forced to shut many companies, several others chose to take the only working option left- Remote.
The business world cannot go back to how it functioned in pre-covid times. Hence, it is vital for leaders to build a hybrid work environment that accentuates, rather than depletes, employee productivity. For this, they need to consider the elements that charge the ions building their foundation. These include energy, focus, coordination, discipline, and cooperation. A good leader imbibes all of them in the company culture to align employee expectations and company plans.
Smart leaders are those who stay a step ahead by identifying the needs of tomorrow and creatingtheir solutions today. With the cards in favour of the hybrid workplace model, your best bet is to develop one with a positive attribute at your organization. Here are the steps to follow to create a positive hybrid work culture essential for any company’s growth:
Invest in the right tools:
Collaboration, document sharing, communication, attendance marking- are some of the many benefits the right kind of tools can provide to a remote working organization that mostly remains in the dark if it doesn’t clench onto technology. This, in turn, hampers the company culture- affecting employee productivity.
Technology soared to become a vital support system since the pandemic began. Though it has its own share of boons and banes, this man-made innovation can tremendously boost the productivity of a company, given it is utilized in the right way. A good HRM software is the first step towards this. If you do have one in place, determine its usability for a hybrid workplace.
Match flexibility with consistency:
The complex web containing different hierarchies of an organization needs to be grouped into appropriate teams for regular but comfortably gapped WFO days. It is vital for everyone in the company to meet each other in-person after certain time intervals. This ensures the human touch isn’t lost and collegial relationships blossom.
Assign different days of the week to different teams but provide autonomy over their workplace of choice. However, you allocate the days, make sure it doesn’t coincide with the major chunk of the workforce.
Step up your employee experience game:
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that employee experience is more than just perk-system. It is about putting care, trust, honesty, purpose and motive at the top of the heap. While hybrid work means a dispersed workforce and greater hardships in enriching this domain, recruit your CEO, stakeholders and higher management to show the care, build the trust, create belonging and hear everyone in the business. Focusing on diversity & inclusion and employees’ mental health can prove to be the other aspects beneficialin creating positive hybrid work culture.
Streamline communication processes:
Physical proximity makes innovation and teamwork easier, but not necessarily better. Read that again. The factor that strikes a chord between both is communication. Group projects are delivered faster and with the best outcome when completed with proper collaboration. And collaboration requires the right form and tense of communication.
To get things going at the regular, if not faster, pace, ensure there is no communication gap between employees. Any form of hinderance can negatively impact the behavior of a worker, ultimately hampering the work culture.
Sowseeds of transparency:
Organization leaders should be aware of the implications their actions can have on the company culture. Their moves should be shared transparently in the workplace to build trust amongst employees and keep them informed despite being away from the office physically. Detachment and a fear of missing out develops in remote working employees who previously used to work on-site.
This fear can be stopped from turning into anger if leaders step in to share a range of inputs, strengthening their bonds with the company.
Don’t let company traditions die:
The last thing you’d want to do when creating a positive hybrid work culture is erasing the old traditions the company followed when “normalcy” prevailed. Instead of discarding them, find new ways to keep the traditions alive. These are the ones that helped employees stick with your company. Scratching them would mean bringing down the morale of your workers. Put your best minds on identifying methods to bring these to life in a new way.
Creating a positive hybrid workplace culture requires fostering of the desired environment in leaders’ minds first. Take charge of the shipas shifting workplaces mark the beginning of a new odyssey. Don’t refrain from change, the world has already embraced it.
3 ways Gamification will Revolutionize your Business
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated employee engagement levels. A recent Gallup study shows that employee engagement had increased from 36% in 2019 to 39% in 2020. There are various reasons behind this sudden jump, such as:
a. 45% of employees said they got feedback in 2020 compared to only 26% in 2019.
b. 38% of employees working from home were more engaged than 32% of those working on-site.
But the same study shows that 14% of employees are actively disengaged. Although the engaged to actively disengaged ratio had gone down from 2.7-to-1 in 2019 to 2.6-to-1 in 2020, companies need to identify the vacant spaces and fill them.
Gamification is an excellent strategy for increasing employee engagement levels to all-new higher levels. Many statistics show that employees who have fun at work are more productive and engaged and finish their work well before deadlines.
a. Research by Catapult shows that absenteeism costs UK businesses £554 per employee. Absenteeism can significantly decrease when employees have fun at work.
b. A survey sponsored by Alfresco shows that 65% of employees interact and collaborate with their colleagues multiple times a day. Thus, if employees enjoy time with their colleagues, they will work better and communicate more effectively.
c. According to a study by the University of Warwick, happier employees are 12%-20% more productive than those who are not.
These statistics prove why gamification is essential for your business. Now, let’s see three use cases of how gamification can revolutionize your business.
1. Make your training sessions compelling instead of grueling.
We all know how boring training sessions can get. I have participated in several L&D programs sponsored by the companies I have worked in. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that most people are either busy chit-chatting with their colleagues or sipping extra cups of free coffee. Thus, the primary purpose of training sessions is somewhere lost.
And, why do you think that happens?
People can give various explanations, but the primary reason is boredom.
Employees get bored of training sessions because there are no fun-filled activities to hold their interest.
This is where gamification comes in. Instead of after-session surveys or post-training tests, you can provide real-time polls to check what they have understood and what they have skipped.
And it has never been as easy as it’s today. You can ask the participants to install apps when they enter the L&D room, where they will take polls, surveys, and tests.
You can plan some group activities and hands-on sessions where learners move their hands and legs, as it has several therapeutic benefits. A mild physical activity will go a long way in helping participants to drop boredom.
2. Start a “boredom removal program” at your workplace.
Yes, you heard that right.
A “boredom removal program” is similar to a “pest removal program” frequently conducted by municipal corporations. Boredom is not very different from pests. The latter contaminates the external environment while the former infects our minds, but they function along the same lines.
Follow the steps below to cut of the roots of boredom in your company:
a. Arrange for face-to-face meetings (or online conferences if physical meetings aren’t possible) with managers and junior executives to find out reasons for boredom.
b. Avoid asking closed-ended questions that have simple “yes” or “no” answers. Instead, learn the technique of asking open-ended questions that brings emotions into the equation. You can better judge the employee’s psyche by understanding their feelings.
c. Gamify your interactions. Instead of reading out notes or displaying dull PowerPoint presentations, say what you want to say in the form of games. Online Games have a unique power to engross players for hours. Give puzzles, assign collaborative tasks, and do some physical exercises to suck the boredom. In short, allow the participants to think. Employees who think and come up with innovative solutions never get bored.
d. There is nothing else that gets people more excited than competitions. No matter how much you see, listen to, or talk about equality, people still like winning and watch others losing. Our brains have reward centers that activate when we win a competition. Moreover, our minds are hardwired to experience the thrill of winning over and over again. So, organize branch- or nation-wide competitions and you will be surprised to look at the results.
3. Gamification stimulates the ideas creation process.
Companies conduct pre-market release surveys and research to get an idea of how their products will perform in the market. Gamification can completely transform this process by augmenting our mental processes that dictate our ability to analyze, respond, and react in different situations. There are two ways of doing this: alternate reality games and live-action role-playing games (LARP). Let’s discuss them one by one.
In alternate reality games, the players remain as they are, but the reality around them changes. Jane McGonigal, a gamification expert, has developed a game called “World Without Oil” to show how companies can stimulate the ideas creation process. In the game, the participants become part of a world with an extreme oil shortage. The players receive reminders about the change in oil prices, notifications of oil shortages, and alerts about countries fighting over remaining oil reserves. Players constantly share insights about how the new changes in the world are impacting their lives. This data is collected and is used by different industries for long-term planning scenarios.
On the other hand, in LARP, players take on new roles but the reality around them may or may not change. A new role allows players to shed off traditional social norms and observe the world without predefined criteria and beliefs. For example, researchers at the University of California developed a game called Battlestar Galactica to study the impact of wearable devices.
In this game, the players act as the survivors of an alien attack on their home planet. They need to adjust to new communication patterns based on mental and physical health signals that originate from the clothes they wear. Through this game, researchers gain valuable insights into how wearable technology can positively change human interactions.
Companies across a broad range of industries are using gamification techniques to significantly improve their processes and give a powerful voice to their employees. Gamification plays a vital role in holding the employees’ interest by fostering creative thinking, re-imagining resource consumption, and exploring future challenges interactively. Traditional industries like the automobile industry can also use the gamification technique to understand the benefits and drawbacks of electric cars and the strategies they can implement to emerge as industry leaders.
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