Balancing Act: The top workplace trends of 2012

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As the country recovers from a recession, our workplaces are moving forward in new ways with new rules. Changes are afoot from how our offices look to who runs them and what equipment will be used.

Here are the trends we saw in 2012 and what to expect in 2013:

Employee engagement. Workers have had it. In 2012, we lost our happy-to-have-a-job mind-set, and now we want appreciation. Experts say if our employers want us more engaged, they need to boost our confidence in senior management and look for ways to reward us.

Top performers are lifelong learners. It hasn't been easy, but American workers finally realize we need to take control of our careers. Being the top sales associate, or even the best doctor, now means we have to keep up with new technology, trends and approaches and we have to do it on our own time and our 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. 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, we want to be paid well. But more importantly, we want the day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where we work to better manage our lives. This year, we even saw reports that claim almost half of all workers would give up some of their salary to get more flexibility.

We've got to get up. This was a breakthrough year in understanding that how we work affects our health. We saw a new pressure on employers to encourage workplace heath initiatives and pay more attention to physical activity at work.

Wellness programs are on the rise. Our employers really do care if we eat that doughnut or go for the apple. They care so much, in fact, that in many instances they're going to pay us to lose weight or participate in a wellness program. 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.

Overtime. 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.

Boomers retiring. 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.

Newly designed workplaces. As collaboration becomes more important, we are finding that workplaces that allow for sharing ideas are the new norm. We also see an increasing number of co-working or shared office space and virtual offices. And while we're at it, we will likely be bringing our own device with us to the office of the future.


Cindy Krischer Goodman:


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