There's no doubt that the makeup of organizations is shifting as baby boomers retire and millennials and Gen Z increasingly take over the majority of new jobs. With this fountain of youth comes a fearless and public communication style that is impacting the workplace in major ways.
Many companies are at a loss with how to properly deal with this change and the publicity that comes with it. What makes matters worse, many suffer from a "culture of nice" and have complicated organizational structures, which only perpetuates business problems and proves detrimental to the bottom line.
Earlier this month, I traveled along the east coast meeting with our clients. We had fierce conversations around how they, as leaders, are working to tackle their toughest challenges and successfully build relationships in the process. This year's workplace predictions highlight a growing awareness of the need to address problems head-on, which a new generation of workers has thrust into the spotlight.
We predict the following trends will take top priority in the New Year:
1. Increased accountability of corporate bad behavior.
Over the past few years, companies seem to be plagued with worsening scandals, dubious leadership practices and unethical decisions. As organizations navigate these issues in 2019, many will realize that sweeping problems under the rug or ignoring them altogether are not real solutions. Leaders will work to gain a deeper understanding and connection to the people who make up their organization. This means the popularity of employee training and engagement programs will rise, and cover a wide range of topics such as diversity, unconscious bias, ethics and inclusion.
2. Fewer organizations will suffer from a "culture of nice."
This is a problem we hear time and time again from our clients around the world. In these environments, no truly productive feedback is given. People are afraid to disagree or speak up, refuse to address problems and rarely challenge the status quo. A culture of "nice" lends itself to a host of challenges including lack of trust, higher turnover, and lower productivity—none of which are actually "nice." As organizations continue to improve their conversations skills as it pertains to feedback, and as younger workers vocalize their desire for more frequent feedback, the number of organizations who suffer from this type of culture will decrease.
3. Generation Z will no longer be ignored.
An estimated 61 million Gen Zers are applying for jobs in the U.S. next year, many entering the workforce for the first time. Organizations will be forced to adjust to this new reality in 2019, and in order to be successful, will need to find innovative ways to invest more heavily in their training from the get-go. We believe the New Year will be an area of growth in this regard, as organizations figure out the best way to engage with this new generation. A part of this will no doubt be providing the right resources to this tech-savvy generation to help them succeed both in the short and long term.
4. Companies will move away from hierarchy and towards more agile teams.
Organizations are starting in earnest to understand that strategic alignment is key to their success, and the best way to achieve it is to ensure the company is flexible and responsive at every level. We will see a shift away from teams interacting only at the highest levels, and towards a flatter approach to company structure. With this shift will come an increased need for communication skills, as it will be imperative that managers are skilled in both delegation and decision making. By empowering teams with greater collaboration and agility, 2019 will result in higher productivity and employee engagement.
5. Progress will be made on digital transformations.
While most organizations have been slowly integrating digital across many areas of their business, 2019 will be the year where real progress is made. Organizations will spend more time focused on truly understanding the needs of the end user—be it employees, clients or customers—and in turn, work with their IT departments to ensure these needs are being met. Innovation is no longer a luxury; without adopting and staying on top of digital trends, organizations will become obsolete.
While company leaders may feel they aren't ready for some of these shifts, the good news is that in the long run, everyone will benefit by proactively embracing these particular changes. The key to their successful implementation will in part lie in how they are communicated, and executed, which will be determined one conversation at a time.
Curious what we predicted last year? You can read all about it here.