Five Predicted Workforce Trends for 2016

The battle for talent is only going to get worse.

Near the end of each year, many businesses attempt to forecast what the upcoming year will hold. They set budgets, look at new client opportunities, and try to plot a course so 2016 is more successful than 2015. 

A necessary variable in this formula is human capital. So, to carry forth the theme of making 2016 predictions, I would like to boldly throw out the following five workforce trends.

Workplace stress is a positive. Instead of seeing workplace stress as a negative, there is a new concept showing that workplace stress (or stress in general) can be seen as an asset, not a liability. 

In her book, “The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good at It,” author Kelly McGonigal challenges the conventional worker on workplace stress.

“It’s about seeing stress as a challenge rather than a threat,” Ms. McGonigal says. “When you view stress as inherently harmful, you shy away from things that are difficult and meaningful, whether that’s repairing a relationship or seeking out a promotion.” Viewing stressors in a positive light may help you feel like you can overcome it. 

Battle for talent increases. America has a record number of job openings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.8 million job openings in the United States in July. The battle for talent is only going to get worse in 2016. 

On recent job board ads, some highly in-demand skill sets are getting $5,000+ signing bonuses. When semi-content employees are going on job interviews and receiving new job offers, they are going back to their current employer and asking for—and receiving—sizeable counter offers.  This is becoming the new norm—workers, not employers, control the job market.

Younger workers entering the workforce. Because hiring employees will be a high priority for many companies in 2016, employers will hire and train their next generation workforce—millennials and Gen X employees. 

According to Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of “Promote Yourself,” by 2016, millennials will account for the highest percentage of workers compared with Gen Xers and boomers. They are currently one in every four managers at companies already, so their influence is growing, Mr. Schawbel says. 

According to a survey conducted by Mr. Schawbel, about a quarter (26 percent) of millennials surveyed said workers should only be expected to stay in a job a year or less before looking for a new position. Meanwhile, 41 percent of baby boomers believe workers should stay with an employer at least 5 years before looking for a new job. Only 13 percent of millennials agree with their more senior counterparts.

And Gen X employees, more than millennials, think everyone on a successful team should be rewarded, regardless of their contribution level. 

Laws/rules for overtime. The federal government has proposed an increase in the minimum salary requirement for many of the white collar exemptions of roughly $23,600 annually to $50,440 (or $970 a week). The rule change, the first meaningful change in 40 years, could also prevent future problems by automatically updating the salary threshold based on wage growth over time. This would affect almost 5 million American workers within the first year of implementation and cost businesses an estimated $255 million to execute and implement.

In 1975, more than 60 percent of salaried workers were eligible for overtime. Today, less than 8 percent of full-time salaried workers are covered by those regulations, according to the White House Domestic Policy Council.

More technology in the workplace. Evolution in workplace technology is constant. The goal is to make work easier for the employee and improve productivity for the company. These improvements can come in the form of faster, more reliable broadband; more powerful smartphones and tablets; better video and text chatting software, and so on. 

A potential downside of this workplace flexibility through technology also comes when the employee is outside of the workplace. Employees can now be saddled to their employers through the technology in the form of emails, late night texts that bosses expect an immediate response to, and so on. 

Furthermore, workplace distractions (Facebook, text messages received by employees from their friends and family during the work day) are shown to increase.