As we wind down the year, Ive identified major workplace trends affecting the way we work.
From an individual perspective, understanding these trends will give you an advantage. From an employer perspective, it will help make more informed business decisions. Here are my top 10 that I believe will define 2013 and reshape the way we work in 2014.
1. Flexibility rises in importance. Ask employees what benefit they most value: Flexibility is at the top of their wish lists. Most say it is a key factor they consider when looking for a new job or deciding between offers and theyre often willing to sacrifice salary to get it.
Flexibility has evolved to mean leeway in when and where work gets done. What might surprise you is that most working parents (80 percent) say they have at least a little flexibility in their current job.
That number rises a little each year, according to Moms Corp., a professional staffing franchise that has a focus on flexible placements. In the past, flexibility programs were viewed as a perk for working mothers, but now theyre looked at as a way to retain talent.
What managers are starting to realize is that they have to model behavior that lets employees know it is O.K. to use flexibility and that it wont affect your career, says Mary Jane Konstantin of Ceridian LifeWorks, a provider of employee assistance and wellness programs.
2. Job stress gets attention. More than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs mostly poor pay and increasing workloads, according to a 2013 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College.
The stress has permeated all levels within organizations. Lindsey Pollak, Gen Y career expert and spokeperson for The Hartford Insurance Groups My Tomorrow campaign, says stress and anxiety are the top reasons millennials use disability insurance.
In 2013, she found 45 percent of Gen Y signed up for employer plans for disability insurance, and a high percentage of those who used it cited mental stress, anxiety and depression as their reason, she says. With student loan debt, a bad economy and a faster pace of life, stress is a big issue for millennials.
Over the past three years, Ceridian reports a 30 percent increase in calls related to stress. Konstantin said employers are addressing this growing concern through stress reduction workshops and wellness programs: Its within a companys best interest to think through how it can support activities to help employees better handle stress.
3. Freelancers rise in numbers. Right now, mid-size and large businesses are hiring freelancers in record numbers to help deal with the rapid pace of change and innovation in the global economy and control costs. New data show one-third of American workers are freelancers.
Next year, there will be millions more freelancers, replacing full-time workers, reports NBC News. A study by Accenture, a management-consulting firm, shows that even top-level managers and executive teams are being replaced by temporary CEOs, CFOs, COOs and other highly skilled troubleshooters. Accenture found that the top fields for freelance work include sales and marketing, IT and programming, design and multimedia, engineering and manufacturing, and writing and translation.