Blog: 5 Predicted Workforce Trends for 2016


Near the end of each year many businesses attempt to predict and forecast what the upcoming year will hold for their company. They set budgets, look at new client opportunities, and try to plot a course to make the next year more successful than the last.

A necessary variable in this formula is human capital. So, to carry forth the theme of making 2016 predictions, I would like to boldly throw out the following five workforce trends.

1. Workforce stress as a good thing

There is a new movement within the business workplace that is tipping conventional thinking upside down. Instead of seeing workplace stress as a negative, there is a new concept showing that workplace stress — or stress in general — can be seen as an asset, not a liability.

In her book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good At It, author Kelly McGonigal challenges the conventional worker-type thought processes on workplace stress.

“It’s about seeing stress as a challenge rather than a threat,” McGonigal says. “When you view stress as inherently harmful, you shy away from things that are difficult and meaningful, whether that’s repairing a relationship or seeking out a promotion.”

Viewing stressors in a positive light may help you feel like you can overcome it. “Studies show that people who think of stress this way are more likely to feel like they have the resources to handle it, such as self-efficacy and self-confidence,” McGonigal says. “Open your arms, embrace stress, and use it to your benefit.”

2. Battle for talent increases

America has a record number of job openings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.8 million job openings in the United States in July. The battle for talent is only going to get worse in 2016.

On recent job board ads for example, some highly in-demand skill sets are getting $5,000+ signing bonuses. When semi-content employees are going on job interviews and receiving new job offers, they are going back to their current employer and asking for — and receiving — sizeable counter offers. This is becoming the new norm — workers, not employers, control the job market.

3. New, younger workers entering the workforce

Because hiring employees will be a high priority for many companies in 2016, employers hiring and training their next generation workforce — millennials and Gen X employees.

According to Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding Inc., a research and consulting firm, and author of Promote Yourself says, “By (2016), millennials will account for the highest percentage of workers compared to Gen X and boomers. They are currently one in every four managers at companies already so their influence is growing.”

One major area of disconnect between millennials and baby boomers is how each demographic views workplace longevity. According to a survey conducted by Schawbel, about a quarter of millennials surveyed said that workers should only be expected to stay in a job a year or less before looking for a new position.

Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of baby boomers believe workers should stay with an employer at least five years before looking for a new job. Only 13 percent of millennials agree with their more senior counterparts.

Gen X employees, more than millennials, think everyone on a successful team should be rewarded, regardless of their contribution level. They have an “everyone gets a ribbon” employee thought process, which creates resentment at times with workplace achievers.

4. New laws/rules for overtime

The federal government has proposed an increase in the minimum salary requirement for many of the white-collar exemptions of roughly $23,600 annually to $50,440 (or $970 a week). The rule change, the first meaningful change in 40 years, could also prevent future problems by automatically updating the salary threshold based on wage growth over time. This would affect nearly 5 million American workers within the first year of implementation, and cost businesses an estimated $255 million to execute and implement.

In 1975, more than 60 percent of salaried workers were eligible for overtime. Today, fewer than 8 percent of full-time salaried workers are covered by those regulations, according to the White House Domestic Policy Council.

5. More technology in the workplace

Evolution in work place technology is constant. The goal is to make work easier for the employee and improve productivity for the company. These improvements can come in the form of faster, more reliable broadband; more powerful smartphones and tablets; better video and text chatting software; and improved CRMs and ATSs. All of these improvements enable employees to be more flexible in their working patterns.

A potential downside about this workplace flexibility through technology also comes when the employee is outside of workplace. Accessibility can erode work/life balance. Employees can now be saddled to their employers through the technology in the form of emails, late-night texts that bosses expect an immediate response to, and bicoastal video chats with customers that start well after 5 p.m. local time.

Furthermore, workplace distractions (Facebook, text messages received by employees from their friends and family during work day, etc.) are shown to increase. Employees lose interpersonal communication skills with coworkers. It’s easier and more comfortable to send an email than to have a conversation. And, the inevitable technology abuses, that require responses by HR departments in the form of policy manuals on how the company is going to govern technology.

Todd Palmer is founder and president of Troy-based Diversified Industrial Staffing and Diversified PEOple LLC and a regular contributor to DBusiness.​