Identifying Workplace Needs Before You Need Them: A Look Back at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition

Identifying Workplace Needs Before You Need Them: A Look Back at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition
From Recruiter - July 21, 2016

As I traveled home from this years SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, I thought about one theme that aroseconsistently throughout: the casualization of the workplace and its effect on workplace culture. While casualization and flexible work arrangements (FWAs) have shown impressive results in recruitment and retention, they also pose challenges for HR professionals and organizations that lack thenecessary infrastructure to support them.

SHRMs 2015 Employee Benefits reportindicated more than one-half of employers offer several types of flexible work arrangements, including casual dress day once a week (62 percent) and telecommuting (60 percent). Moreover, improvements in technology will continue to make casual workplaces and FWAs more attainable for larger and larger segments of the workforce.

A more casual workplace can manifest itself in many ways, and most of these waysif not all of themare matters of concern to HR professionals. Employees now have the ability to work in nontraditional or mobile workplace settings. Communication between workers is changing asan increasing amount of information is exchanged through text messaging and short, impulsive comments. Even workplace attire is changing: A trend toward more casual dress was seen at the conference, and this same trend has certainly made its way into many organizations.

As some professionals mentioned to me at the conference, HR often leads workplace change, and this department is often the one piloting casualization efforts. As these trends areintegrated into workplace culture, we cannot forget about the potential ramifications they may have on the employee experience. Its important for recruiters and HR professionals to take an active role in preparing employees and employers for these rapidly changing dynamics.

A big part of this preparation has to do withunderstanding how casualization affects and is influenced by different generations in the workplace. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the number of millennials in the country. (75.4 million) surpassed the number of baby boomers (74.9 million) last year. Understanding the strategies needed to manage evolving workplace demographics and their expectationswill be essential as we progress into the next decade.

In fact, many of the themes that emerged from SHRM 2016 relate directlyto millennial workers needs, including:

- the demand for workplace flexibility and virtual office spaces;
- the emphasis on real-time coaching and just-in-time feedback, which has led some organizations away from annual performance evaluations;
- the communication patterns of workers, which trend toward texting and short, impulsive messaging;
- and the five components of employee engagement: careers, relationships, health, finances, and spirituality.


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