The workplace is constantly changing. Whether it’s shifting demographics in the workforce with an influx of millennials book-ended with a generation that’s retiring later than ever, r a new way of using data that changes the way we operate – nothing stays the same for long. Nonetheless, it’s possible to make some predictions based on the facts and figures we’ve seen in recent months. Here are a handful of workplace trends we can still expect to see in 2018.
1. Data takes center stage
HR departments have gradually been adopting a data-driven mindset over the last few years, and with ‘big data’ and automation becoming more and more commonplace, 2018 is likely to see data being used even more extensively than it already has been. Whether it’s data related to productivity, engagement levels or workforce demographics (all of which can be collected through good human resources software), or predictive data used to forecast staffing requirements or attrition rates, it’s hard to believe that the workplace would continue to be anything other than data-led in 2018.
2. …which means knowing about GDPR
The new Global Data Protection Regulations will be in full force by 25 May 2018, creating far-higher standards for data protection. It will essentially mean that you’ll have to obtain consent (or be able to demonstrate a ‘legitimate interest’) in collecting, storing and using people’s data. HR professionals will need to know how it affects employees within their organization, recruiters and sourcers will need to understand how to prospect to candidates, and digital marketers will need to understand how to gather insights and market to digital audiences in a way that’s GDPR-compliant. These are just examples, of course – almost every role in almost every industry imaginable is going to be impacted by this legislative change.
3. Mental wellbeing is more important than ever
Poor mental health and wellbeing have increasingly been discussed more openly in recent years, and 2018 shows signs that this is set to continue. With a push for ‘wellness’ in many aspects of our lives (and a generally more open attitude towards mental health and less stigma around disclosing it in public), employers will need to do more this year. Recent evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK are due to ill mental health, but this figure is likely to be higher given that employees are reluctant to cite stress, anxiety or depression as a reason for not attending the office. With better mental health support in the workplace touted to save the UK economy £8 billion a year, 2018 is likely to see better practices than in previous years, or at least more discussion on the subject.
4. Self-employment rates continue to rise
The number of self-employed workers has been rising since 2008, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting that 15% of all people in work are currently self-employed. This amounted to approximately 14 million people in 2017, and with a growing ‘gig economy’ – this number is expected to rise. Despite the unpredictability of self-employment, many workers have no choice but to work on this basis, either full-time or part-time. For others, self-employment is a deliberate choice, with younger generations of the workforce (as well as those with caring commitments to family members both young and old) finding themselves drawn to the arrangement for the flexibility it provides.
5. Brexit may pose challenges
The UK’s departure from membership of the European Union is ongoing, and as such, nothing is certain for the workplace in 2018 – except perhaps for the fact that uncertainty itself is guaranteed. Some experts are predicting that Brexit will pose obstacles to international recruitment, and we may see skills shortages in roles traditionally filled by EU (and non-EU) nationals in particular industries, even before Brexit is finalized. For example, the life sciences industry relies heavily on the free movement of skilled workers inside the European Union (as well as shared regulatory environment) given that much expertise, activity, and technology is concentrated in mainland Europe, the UK, and the USA. While the UK government is likely to want to the country to continue benefiting from this arrangement post-Brexit, inflammatory conversations regarding immigration is likely to act as a deterrent for EU nationals who would previously have considered moving to the UK to climb the life sciences ladder.
Of course, all these predictions are exactly that – just predictions. Who knows which trends will emerge in 2018 still – that we haven’t predicted?
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