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Resolutions for success

Priorities for new year should reflect workplace trends

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It's only a few weeks into 2014 and the afterglow of those new year's resolutions is already starting to fade. So, for those whose persistence is slipping, I suggest you step back and reflect on the sage advice given by Queen Elizabeth in her annual Christmas message. She stated that "we all need to get the balance right, between action and reflection and that hopefully everyone will have the chance to contemplate the future."

Contemplating the future means we need to look at where we've been and where we're going. With this in mind, I would like to present some of the human resource trends I believe will impact both employees and employers, not only in the coming year, but for the near future. Take time to reflect on these trends and then develop some strategies that will reinforce your 2014 new year's resolutions and ensure your personal success.

Education will be key -- The increasing trend toward "professionalization" of various occupations means organizations must continue to invest in employee professional development. Education will be key to succession as well as employee attraction and retention and includes supporting individuals with attaining advanced degrees, professional designations and certifications in areas of specialization. For individuals, know that an undergraduate degree is now simply an entry-level requirement, but it will not guarantee long-term career success.

Technology will be king -- The introduction of mobile devices to the workplace and the application of technology to human resource systems will continue at a faster and faster pace. The use of HR analytics to improve overall administrative efficiency will be increasingly used for talent management and planning. Technology will also create unbeknownst and evolving policy-related issues in the areas of security, employee privacy, intellectual property and information exchange. These issues will require creative solutions. Those individuals who fail to stay technology-savvy will be left behind as new specialist careers are created.

Social media will be mainstream -- Social media are no longer simply a fun tool for individuals to stay in touch with friends and family. In fact, businesses are already and will continue to use social media for lead generation, employee recruitment and as a means to demonstrate their organizational culture and market their products and services. Not-for-profit agencies have quickly caught on to using social media as a key fundraising strategy. On the other hand, social media will continue to create challenges in the area of HR policy development as it is often blurring the lines between work and play.

Workplace branding will be the focus -- Organizations will focus more and more on organization culture as a key means to attract and retain employees. This includes paying more attention to workplace diversity, generations in the workplace, employee health, wellness and lifework balance. Companies will increasingly participate in high-profile, well-recognized awards so as to be branded and known as the best place to work in a number of categories. The number of awards themselves will also continue to increase and become more competitive as the founders strive to engage various companies to participate.

Skill shortages will create career advantage -- With more and more of the older baby boomers retiring and the younger generation lacking experience and/or the required technical expertise, skill shortages will persist. Various occupations, particularly industrial and manufacturing engineering roles are predicted to continue experiencing significant supply pressure right into the year 2018. This may also be caused by the lack of science and mathematics skills in the general population. For those individuals entering this field, there will be plenty of career choices.

Retention will need more attention -- Skill shortages will create a very competitive talent market and will require employers to pay attention to reward and recognition, fair pay and other benefit programs that serve to attract and retain employees. Employees will increasingly demand challenge, room for growth and career progression as well as a culture of openness, trust and good communication.

Good employee relationships will be key -- Employees are and will become more aware of their individual rights and are adopting a more litigious attitude toward righting their perceived wrongs. The trend supports current union strategies to consolidate and increase their membership and political leverage. The trend also suggests the field of law and specialist HR expertise in labour/employee relations will continue to grow.

Mental health will be a priority -- The complexity of our social and emotional lifestyles both at home and at work is leading to increasing evidence that mental-health issues in the workplace must be dealt with. The pace of technological change and the fast pace of work processes themselves, accompanied by aggressive cost reductions and lack of qualified employees, has left many employees stressed and overwhelmed. Thankfully, organizational leaders are beginning to recognize this and will continue to play a more assertive role in creating and ensuring a psychologically healthy workplace.

Next-generation leaders will need practical training -- In order to continue taking advantage of business opportunities in the future, organizations need to continue to aggressively train a new generation of corporate leaders. The most effective leadership program I've encountered focuses on creating culture change by training internal groups of leaders over a six-month time frame. I find a hands-on, more practical approach creates a consistent leadership and results in a culture of coaching rather than policing for failure.

HR approaches will be holistic -- More and more HR professionals will sit at the executive table providing advice and guidance on communicating and facilitating change. This will ensure the human resource function is not seen as an isolated administrative responsibility, but rather is one of the keys to engaging and empowering employees. Going forward, human resources will be more recognized and appreciated as a holistic and integrated function that helps ensure employee alignment with the goals and objectives of the organization.

Diversity will be an advantage -- While the millennial generation will quickly surpass the number of baby boomers in the workforce, many boomers have a genuine desire to stay working. As well, older workers facing poor retirement finances are often returning to the workforce. Add the increasing intercultural diversity to the mix, and organizational dynamics will become even more complex and challenging. Leaders will need to be very politically astute to ensure a harmonious workplace culture.

The year 2014 has already got a good start, and for many, new year's resolutions are still fresh in their minds. For those whose promises are already waning and/or those who still haven't committed themselves, review the trends described above, identify those with the most impact on your business and/or career and develop a plan to ensure your success.


-- source: Our Ten 2014 Predictions for HR, Learning, Talent and HR Technology, Josh Bersin Dec 18, 2013, Resetting Horizons, Human Capital Trends, 2013, Deloitte 2013, Top 10 workplace Trends According to HR Professionals: SHRM workplace forecast, 2013.


Barbara J.Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP, M.Ed., President, Legacy Bowes Group. Barbara can be reached at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2014 H1

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