Balancing Act: Trends affecting how we work

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As we wind down the year, I've identified major workplace trends affecting the way we work.

1. Flexibility rises in importance. Ask employees what benefit they most value: Flexibility is at the top of their wish lists -- and they're often willing to sacrifice salary to get it.

2. Job stress gets attention. More than 8 in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs, according to a 2013 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive.

3. Freelancers rise in numbers. Right now, businesses are hiring freelancers in record numbers to help deal with the rapid pace of change and innovation in the global economy and to control costs.

4. Overtime pay heats up. Employers continue to be besieged by wage-and-hour lawsuits. The wave of class actions started with claims that employers were misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits and overtime.

5. Collaboration gains importance. Companies want their staff working in teams, sharing ideas and solving problems. The concept has sparked changes in staffing, office design and the way work is done.

6. Generational shifts take hold. The shift in workplace demographics is happening in a workplace near you. Boomers are starting to retire, freeing up positions for Gen X and Gen Y managers to move into.

7. Work-life boundaries erode and get reset. Technology enables many workers to take their jobs home with them and their personal lives to the office. Yet for all the benefits, workers are feeling exhausted by being "always on," Mary Jane Konstantin, at Ceridian, said.

8. Women outpace men in workplaces. One billion women will enter the workplace in the next decade. Research shows that they are more educated than men and are starting to take more leadership positions. Already, 4 in 10 American households with children younger than age 18 include a mother who is the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

9. Employees take to social media. Companies are struggling with policy around use of social media at the office. Some will start to leverage their talent and use employees as social-media advocates to recruit staff and market to customers online.

10. Companies embrace employee retention. Employees have lost their enthusiasm. According to the latest State of the American Workplace Report from Gallup, 70 percent of U.S. workers don't like their jobs. In 2013, companies began realizing they should be concerned about this because disengaged workers can impact everything.


Cindy Krischer Goodman, CEO of BalanceGal LLC, can be reached at balancegal@gmail.com.

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