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Will 2019 Become the Year of the Employee?

Dec 12, 2018 | 7 minutes
A happy businesswoman jumping outside.

In the wake of the 4th Industrial Revolution, over the past few years, the workplace has been in a constant state of change. I am sure we can surmise, next year will be no different. Trends for 2019 foretell of new technology, new cybersecurity demands, as well as new professions and obsolete jobs. These trends have and will continue to permeate the workforce with a different perspective. The employees of today often feel displaced, and the need to be some sort of triple threat professional to be employable, like being a media influencer, software programmer, and data specialist for example. 

This rhetoric has put today’s workforce in an uncertain place, but, workplaces themselves can change that. Companies can turn this discourse on its head and champion the workers who live the trends mentioned above. The real trend in 2019 is employee-centricity. 2019 is the year of the employee.

No longer employee of the year, but the year of the employee

Let me explain. Employee satisfaction is increasingly becoming a key factor in having success in any business. I will use the rise of new technologies in the workplace as my example. With the deployment of new technologies, there is an unpredictable nature to it and an unmeasured risk for any business line. If employees feel connected to a project though, it can mean all the difference in the adoption of that technology for a company. For example, it can mean the successful launch of a startup, the creation of new business lines, and the selling of more products/services. In short, leveraging the right tactics, culture, and technology can lead to overall employee satisfaction and business success. 

Here is a break down of the ways to apply employee-centricity for success in 2019.

1. Present yourself as employee-centric

Pretty obvious here, but it needs to be said, employees are looking for employers that are sympathetic to their needs. 

The Randstad Employer Brand Research 2017 Global Report provides an overview of what the employee of today values in an employer. It found that not only salary benefits are important for employees when looking for an employer, but also things like a good work-life balance and a positive work environment were also important factors when signing a contract. 

Further emphasizing this, the study also found that elements like career progression are falling in desirable attributes, as the changing view persists that career progression does not only occur within one company. The reason for this is employees of today tend to find a competitive work environment to be hostile. Instead, they desire a harmonious one and look for a more authentic way to progress in their career, one that may involve changing companies. 

Workplace security is no longer defined by workplace trajectory or by a good salary alone. It is characterized by a good salary and benefits as well as having a good work-life balance. Promoting these perks as part of your workplace culture will not only provide security today’s workforce is looking for but can also help present your company as employee-focused.

2. Prioritize culture over strategy

As we have seen in recent years and will continue to see in 2019, is that companies of all sizes are becoming more concerned with their work culture. In some cases, a good work culture can be the greater determiner of success over transactional processes that make up a company’s workflows. And, it all begins at the employee-level making it a place that employees can not only believe in but thrive in. 

The adage, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” will continue to reign supreme.

Every company needs a strategy. Of course, work needs to be organized to help measure the effectiveness of a business line. But the strategy is not the heart of a company. It is simply the route to perform business actions. 

Culture lies at the heart of a company. A workplace culture is comprised of the shared values, behaviors and attitudes across an organization. It is what drives people to work, create, or build. Building a workplace culture that reflects the ethos of its employees is now more important than ever. 

If an ethos is developed and shared with employees, it can have great dividends for a company. It can help with employee buy-in, better product creation, reduce internal conflict, and overall increase employee loyalty to your employer brand. 

Work cultures that are employee-centric allow employees to be apart of the conversation and contribute to the creation of the workplace culture. Listen and understand what your employees are looking for in a culture. Open up the lines of communication and remove barriers for free thought and innovation to flow.

3. Communicate meaningfully with employees

Continuing on with the role of communication, over the past years we have been blessed and cursed with hyperconnectivity. With most, if not all communication apps being at our fingertips, answering emails or communicating with employees can be done at any time of day. Whether you view that as good or bad is not the point, it just is what it is. 

But for this article’s sake, I will take the side of positivity. Increasing hyperconnectivity can also lead to increased idea-sharing. Not only does 2019 mean leveraging avenues for employees to communicate in but to let them feel heard when they do. 

As an employee, communicating outside of work doesn’t seem so bad if it is by means of ideation and consulting. When I feel more integral to a project or decision, it makes me feel more valued. I am sure I am not alone. For employers, higher value equates to loyalty, which affects your bottom line, the success of your business. 

Moreover, employees are at the ground level of the organization. They often know more directly what is going on and can sometimes solve the problem quicker. 

I am not making the point that its ok to message employees around the clock, just that when you do, make it purposeful. Being asked for an opinion may be appreciated on the employee’s side too. 

If you haven’t already, take a more open and employee-centric approach in your communication in 2019.

4. Match the speed of work

Across industries, the speed of work is increasing. And, 2019 will be no different. The employee takes center place in this 2019 trend as well. 

What I mean is that to keep the competitive advantage, businesses have to work faster and smarter. Ergo, companies need to empower their employees with the technology and skillsets needed to do their job to the best of their ability to keep the competitive advantage. 

The Future of Jobs Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum sheds light on this by placing emphasize on reskilling employees through training programs and technology, as well as augmenting their work instead of replacing them altogether through automation.

“Leading research documents the potentially divergent impact of the introduction of automation technology, demonstrating how both job design (how tasks are organized into jobs) and employee’s possession (or lack thereof) of skills complementing newly introduced technologies contribute to eventual outcomes for companies and workers. Workers with in-demand skills ready for augmentation may see their wages and job quality increase considerably. Conversely, even if automation only affects a subset of the tasks within their job role, workers lacking appropriate skills to adapt to new technologies and move on to higher value tasks may see their wages and job quality suppressed by technology steadily eroding the value of their job, as it encroaches on the tasks required to perform it. Therefore, central to the success of any workforce augmentation strategy is the buy-in of a motivated and agile workforce, equipped with futureproof skills to take advantage of new opportunities through continuous retraining and upskilling.” — The Future of Jobs Report 2018

Retraining and reskilling can have positive effects on your business. Introducing new technologies that will empower employees to do their jobs better and faster will also help to produce better results for your company. Further to that note, new technologies like automation platforms help to augment work. Don’t know where to begin? Automating routine tasks is a great place to start. Make is a no-coding tool that allows you to automate the most mundane and complex tasks. It is free to try. 

Workplace trends in 2019 are all contingent upon one thing, the workforce, making 2019 the year of the employee. By portraying your company as employee-centric, creating a culture befit for employees, increasing meaningful communication, and increasing meaningful employee work by reskilling and automating existing tasks you can empower employees and positively affect your business. 

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Jessica Herauf

Partnerships Manager at Make. I like to travel, explore nature, and I love to hear a good story.

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