Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Omaha.com
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By The Miami Herald
As the country recovers from a recession, workplaces are moving forward in new ways with new rules. Changes are afoot from how offices look to who runs them and what equipment will be used.
Here are the trends from 2012 and what to expect in 2013:
There’s no polite way to say it — workers have had it. In 2012, many lost their happy-to-have a job mind-set, and now want appreciation. For some it’s been a few years since they’ve had a raise or bonus. An October survey by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training found a mere 29 percent of employees are fully engaged. Experts say if employers want workers more engaged, they need to boost confidence in senior management and look for ways to reward workers. “Companies are going to have to decide, ‘Do we want to invest in our people again?’ ” said John Hollon, vice president for editorial at TLNT.com, which follows workplace trends. “They will need to reconnect with workers in ways haven’t had to worry about for about five years now.”
Top performers are lifelong learners
It hasn’t been easy, but American workers finally realize they need to take control of their careers. Most companies cut way back on training and on education reimbursement at the same time workers discovered a need to add to their skills toolbox. Being the top sales associate, or even the best doctor, now means keeping up with new technology, trends and approaches and doing it on your own time and your own dime.
Social media at work is a complicated issue
Through social media, companies now have an amazing way to market their handbags or food delivery services. But this new outlet for driving sales is also driving management crazy. As American workers turned to Facebook and Twitter to rant about cheap bosses or snotty customers, they saw employees getting fired and employers getting sued. Meanwhile, labor lawyers are busy drafting social media policies for companies trying to protect themselves by letting workers know what’s acceptable. The rise of social media in the workplace isn’t likely to slow, and employers will have to prepare themselves for the benefits — and the hazards.
Flexibility is king
Sure, workers want to be paid well. But more important, they want to know that employers “get it.” Workers want the day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where they work to better manage their lives. This year, there even were reports that claim almost half of all workers would give up some of their salary to get more flexibility. Employers of all sizes also begen to position flexible work as part of their culture. Guillermo Rotman, president of Regus Americas, predicts more businesses will offer their employees flexible work options going forward, particularly as technology untethers them from their desks.
We’ve got to get up
This was a breakthrough year in understanding that how we work affects our health. Sitting at a desk, staring at a screen all day is making workers fat and unhealthy. There was a new pressure on employers to encourage workplace heath initiatives and pay more attention to physical activity at work. And we’ve realized we need to work differently, to get up and move around, because mini-breaks of just one minute throughout the day can actually make a difference.
Wellness programs are on the rise
Employers really do care if employees eat that doughnut or go for the apple. They care so much, in fact, that in many instances they’re going to pay workers to lose weight or participate in a wellness program. By now, employers realize that if workers engage in healthy behavior, they benefit from lower health care costs. Expect this trend to get even more attention because the Affordable Care Act will expand the ability of employers to reward workers who achieve health improvement goals.
Is stopping on the way in for doughnuts for co-workers considered on-the-clock time? It could be. Companies are running into trouble with workers who claim there’s a rampant disregard for overtime pay provisions. In 2012, employees filed more than 7,000 federal lawsuits commonly known as wage-and-hour cases against their employers or former employers, records show. Losing these cases proved costly for some employers, and lawyers say they see these types of lawsuits continuing in 2013 along with a new interest in management training on what counts as a violation.
We’ve been told of its coming; now it is happening. Experts say 2013 is the year that kicks off a wave of baby boomers retiring from careers they held for decades. “Some industries already are very focused on how to replace those exiting employees,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting for the Society of Human Resource Management. Others will have to work hard and fast to develop the next generation of corporate leaders. At the same time, retirement creates a need for older workers to find ways to stay productive. Look for retirees to seek out opportunities to find work that helps them contribute to the greater good or causes they care about, said Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org and author of “The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.” “They will be looking for opportunities to do something impactful.”
Newly designed workplaces
Workspaces are changing along with work habits. As collaboration becomes more important, workplaces that allow for sharing ideas are the new norm — open floor plans and collaborative work environments, standing work stations and dual monitors. There are also an increasing number of co-working or shared office space and virtual offices, preparing workers to say goodbye to office cubicles and look forward to opportunities for better networking. Many will likely be bringing their own device with them to the office of the future. A Cisco study showed a staggering 95 percent of organizations permit employee-owned devices in the workplace. This includes laptops, tablets and smartphones.
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