Jennifer Newman: Employees will have to work faster, be more independent in the future

The flip side is that they can expect more collaboration in the workplace and less top-down management, as well as more development opportunities, says workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman.

The flip side is that they can expect more collaboration in the workplace, and more development opportunities

Employees may be expected to work faster and continuously update their skills , but workplace psychologist said that managers that want to keep workers will have to help their staff cope and offer them development opportunities. (Getty Images)

The world of work is undergoing a sea change brought on by increasing globalization and technological advances — and that means the skills needed to get ahead are evolving as well, says workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman.

Newman sat down with The Early Edition host Rick Cluff to talk about the world of work is changing, and what employees need to do to stay ahead of the game.

Rick Cluff: What workplace trends do you see for 2016?

Jennifer Newman: The world of work is evolving, and interesting patterns are emerging, and we'll see these continue past 2016.

One is even more emphasis on the service sector. That's the sector that provides services as opposed to making or manufacturing things. It includes:

  • Transportation and distribution.
  • Retail, wholesale, restaurants and tourism.
  • Information technology, healthcare and financial services.

What can we expect, as this emphasis on service sector growth continues?

Essentially, those kinds of jobs are going to be more of what we need, so that's going to mean a continued need for educated workers. We're going to need formal and informal training as well as development. There will more and more advances in technology. The need for innovative management practices will increase.

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman. (Jennifer Newman )

We'll see a need for more flexible organizational structures are needed. And the demands on workers will continue to change, from the speed of work to how things get done in the workplace.

What management practices will be changing in the future?

Managers will have to continually work on their ability to lead. That means increasing delegation skills and being clear about priorities. Workplaces are going to become more complex, so relying on top-down authority to get things done will be even more difficult. That's because knowledge workers respond best to collaborative leadership styles.

Managers will need to stay attuned to workers, their energy levels, interests and emotional well-being. There will be an increasing need for workers to be independent at work. Managers who can assist workers by giving clear goals and priorities will be successful. But because of the speed of work required, those who focus on removing barriers preventing staff from getting things done, will also be effective.

You mentioned working faster will continue to be a demand placed on workers in 2016 and beyond. Some say, 'I can't go any faster!'

Yes, and this will require both managers and workers to cope. Staff tend to disengage when time pressure increases at work. And, there are increases in headache, lower back pain and other physical issues.

Managers will need to monitor and regulate the speed of work. But moderate time pressure keeps staff engaged and feeling a sense of progress. It's when you spike that and it's way off the charts that people start to slide into disengagement. So keeping track of how staff are faring under pressure will help managers know when it's too much. This requires a completely different level of empathy than many managers are accustomed to.

Workers will be asked to be more independent in the future. How will that affect staff?

Workers who can plan and structure their work and their time independently will be really valued.  If staff have trouble being self -starters, they will fall behind.

The pace of work will require staff to be skilled at creating a plan and following through without too much supervisory input. This requires a lot of self-control. Easily distracted staff, those who have trouble organizing themselves, or are impulsive, will have serious career problems. Also being able to control your emotions will be important. Getting angry, frustrated or reacting badly to feedback or situations at work, will be increasingly frowned upon.

Another demand you observed for 2016 was increased education. How will that affect staff?

It's both a positive and a negative. Job insecurity is a trend that's on the rise. Workers who continuously update their skills have a better chance of surviving a layoff. The downside is the time and money it takes to continually upgrade. Organizations who understand this will provide development opportunities to workers. They'll attract talent this way.

On the flip side, not giving managers development opportunities, will contribute to worker disengagement. So organizations and workers have a stake in continuous learning.

We're seeing more flexibility at work around hours and work arrangements like job sharing and the like.  Will that continue?

Yes, this trend will continue to accelerate. Part-time work, casual and temporary work will also continue. Again this is both positive and problematic. Staff will be able to integrate home, life and work better.

But, increases in different kinds of work arrangements can lead to increases in job insecurity, for some. Job insecurity is associated with decreases in job satisfaction and increases depression. Again, the emphasis on managers to monitor individual worker well-being will make a difference here. Frank conversations about how to cope, will be needed.

This interview has been edited and condensed

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman says workers will need to work faster, be more independent in the future


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