Workplaces and leaders evolve continuously. They sometimes do so gradually and without notice or in other instances they lurch forward or, regrettably take several steps backwards.
The start of a new year is a time to reflect on the trends that will shape workplaces in 2016 and beyond.
The year 2016 will begin with a workplace hangover.
The economy, an aging workforce and ongoing challenges in employee recruitment, retention and engagement will continue to be felt to varying degrees depending on the employment sector.
Making predictions is a dodgy business at best but I think workplaces in 2016 (and beyond) will be marked by the following:
Continued focus on individual, team performance
An increasing number of employers large and small will pay greater attention to analytics and measurement and hopefully will pay increased attention to ensure the right systems and processes are in place to allow individuals to thrive, innovate and boost their performance and sense of well-being.
This means, among many other things, paying a lot more attention to feedback being provided in real time as opposed to antiquated time-lagged performance review systems doling out annual evaluations.
Recruitment, training will continue to innovate with video
I am excited by how recruitment continues to evolve through its use of technology and most recently the use of video.
Professional services firm Deloitte recently made headlines when they challenged their workforce to shoot smartphone videos describing what it was like to work there.
They received thousands of examples and later used them in their recruitment efforts.
Many employers are also using private YouTube channels to capture short and very focused training videos helping employees get really good at their current jobs.
Talk about a great way to ensure knowledge transfer from an aging workforce.
Flexibility versus conformity
The pull and push of employers finding ways to be flexible in their schedules, supervision and amount of autonomy people have in how they do their jobs will continue to bump up against the requirement and, in some instances, old school rigid approaches that some employers advocate.
Some jobs, by design, are easier than others to breathe in the flexibility our younger workers insist on but the real gains are when every employer, within the constraints of their work environment, push for new ways to be flexible in their work arrangements and to provide greater autonomy.
Leadership is increasingly distributed
Researcher Nick Petrie, in a Centre for Creative Leadership White Paper entitled Future Trends in Leadership Development, states "there is a transition occurring … in which leadership resided in one person or role, to where leadership is now a collective process that is spread throughout networks of people."
Clearly we all win when those in roles of formal authority within our organisations work diligently at fostering leadership and learning.
Collaborative and affirming
More workplace cultures will become collaborative and affirming.
The Dec. 22, 2015 Fortune article, What Business Can Learn from the Golden State Warriors, by Great Places to Work researcher Ed Frauenheim said it well when he asserted: "at companies with super-serious, dreary cultures, employee energy, innovation and productivity can suffer."
Having studied the most successful global workplaces he goes on to argue that "a fun, inclusive community spirit is important."
I would argue it is critical.
My New Year's wish is for workplaces to increasingly value learning at all levels and that everyone within the walls take on the challenge of making their workplaces better.
Workplace cultures thrive when individuals learn continuously, collaborate brilliantly and leadership is an action verb that is distributed throughout.