As the country recovers from a recession, our workplaces are moving forward in new ways with new rules. Changes are afoot from how our offices look to who runs them and what equipment will be used.
Here are the trends we saw in 2012 and what to expect in 2013:
• Employee engagement. There’s no polite way to say it — workers have had it. In 2012 we lost our happy-to-have a job mindset and now we want appreciation. For some of us it’s been a few years since we’ve had a raise or bonus. An October survey by by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training found only a mere 29 percent of employees are fully engaged. Experts say if our employers want us more engaged, they need to boost our confidence in senior management and look for ways to reward us. “Companies are going to have to decide, do we want to invest in our people again?” says John Hollon, vice president for editorial at TLNT.com, which follows workplace trends. “They will need to reconnect with workers in ways haven’t had to worry about for about 5 years now.”
• Top performers are lifelong learners. It hasn’t been easy, but American workers finally realize we need to take control of our careers. Most companies cut way back on training and on education reimbursement at the same time we discovered a need to add to our skills toolbox. Being the top sales person, or even the best doctor now means we have to keep up with new technology, trends and approaches and we have to do it on our own time and our own dime.
• Social media at work is a complicated mix. Through social media, companies now have an amazing way to market their handbags or food delivery services. But this new outlet for driving sales is also driving management crazy. As American workers turned to Facebook and Twitter to rant about cheap bosses or snotty customers, we saw employees getting fired and employers getting sued. Meanwhile labor lawyers are busy drafting social media policies for companies trying to protect themselves by letting workers know what’s acceptable. The rise of social media in the workplace isn’t likely to slow and employers will have to prepare themselves for the benefits -- and the hazards.
• Flexibility is king. Sure we want to be paid well. But more importantly, we want to know that our employers “get it.” We want the day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where we work to better manage our lives. This year, we even saw reports that claim almost half of all workers would give up some of their salary to get more flexibility. We also saw smart employers of all sizes begin to position flexible work as part of their culture. Guillermo Rotman, president of Regus Americas, predicts more businesses will offer their employees flexible work options going forward, particularly as technology untethers us from our desks.
• We’ve got to get up. This was a breakthrough year in understanding how we work affects our health. Sitting at our desks, staring at a screen all day is making us fat and unhealthy. We saw a new pressure on employers to encourage workplace heath initiatives and pay more attention to physical activity at work. And we’ve realized we need to work differently, to get up and move around because mini-breaks, just one minute long throughout the day, can actually make a difference.