Trending in the Workplace

| By TMA World

2017 is a very hard year to make any predictions about – a good old British understatement!  Political tornados are whipping up unpredictable tides of change, but it’s a New Year and making predictions at this time – even about the unpredictable – is predictable.

Here are five areas to keep an eye on:  

1. Rethinking Performance Reviews

Enough with the annual performance review!  It’s a leftover from the age of bureaucracy.  Gen Z and Millennials want the kind of immediate and continuous feedback they receive from social media and online games.  Annual feedback is of little value to an employee or manager.  Adobe has created a “Check In” system in which objectives are set annually, but feedback is given regularly. Voluntary attrition has declined 2 percent.  GE has created “Touchpoints,” in which there is a daily development focusing on results and changing business demands.  The result has been a five times increase in productivity in the past year.  Mobile enables what is sometimes called ‘pulsing feedback’ – feedback that is the beating heart of performance.

2. Integrating Virtual and Augmented Reality Technologies

The plummeting costs of wearable virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies means that how work gets done will continue to be transformed.  VR typically requires the use of a headset, and utilizes a fully immersive 3-D virtual world. Through VR a trainee surgeon can be given a ‘true feeling’ for being in an operating room or a trainee oil rig worker the experience of working on a rig.  AR is a quasi-virtual experience in which layers of contextual data, images, text and other communications augment the user’s own un-simulated reality (often via smartglasses).  A 2016 PwC survey of US manufacturers looked at the most popular current applications of VR and AR.  Note that respondents could choose multiple answers:

  • Product design and development – 38%
  • Safety and manufacturing skills training – 28%
  • Maintenance, repair or equipment operations – 19%
  • Remote collaboration – 19%

According to the same study, about one in three manufacturers could adopt VR/AR technology by 2018.  

3. Enabling Flexible and Distributed Teaming

According to some studies, 40 percent of the workforce could be freelancers in the few years.  This means that contract and full-time workers must work together efficiently and effectively.  Organizational design will become a priority as companies seek to balance flexibility with cohesion. Many workers will be in remote locations making technology-based teamwork and collaboration across borders a critical skill.  When Ford engineers – from anywhere in the world – put on a VR Oculus Rift headset they enter a 3-D world where they can explore a virtual car’s design and collaborate on making improvements.  The 3-D collaborative space provides a more interactive and immersive experience than screen-based teleconferencing.  This reduces the need for expensive physical prototypes.  

4. Managing with People Analytics

Given that full employment in the US has shifted power to employees, it is vital that companies pay much more attention to creating highly engaging job-candidate and employee experiences.  Skill and experience shortages are very real, and the organizational ability to attract, hire, develop, engage, and retain employees is essential.  People Analytics, which is largely concerned with getting the most and best out of people, was pioneered to a large degree by Google is a major growth area in HR.  In sum, “Big data comes to people management.”  People have often been viewed subjectively, but now they can be monitored and analyzed.  Successful people it has been shown have network centrality; high connectivity in the organization correlates with high performance.  But what can be learned from those connected high performers, and how can that learning be utilized throughout the organization.    

5. Accelerating Leadership Development

This seems to be a perennial priority, and it is still trending.  The Insured Retirement Institute has predicted that through to 2030, 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire per day.  That opens up a lot of leadership vacancies, but according to Deloitte Human Capital Trends, 56 percent of executives surveyed report that their companies are not ready to meet leadership needs.  Only 7 percent report having accelerated leadership programs for millennials.

  • What do these trends mean for you company?
  • Where might your company be ahead of the game?
  • Where might your company be falling behind?
  • What should you do next to strengthen your competitiveness?

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