Top Ten I-O Workplace Trends for 2016
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has once again released its top ten list of anticipated top workplace trends for 2016 based upon a vote of the current SIOP membership. Here they are, with a little commentary and comparisons to both the 2015 and 2014 lists:
- Using Social Media to Make Employment-Related Decisions. Technology is always all over this list, in one way or another. Last year, it was mobile assessment – this year, social media. Personally, I think it’s interesting that it falls at #10 when I’d say what’s driving its reemergence on this list is the #1 trend – Big Data has made the information contained within social media much more interesting.
- Building Healthy, Diverse Workforces (down from #8). Steady interest, year over year. Organizational focus continues to be on finding value in diversity rather than diversity for diversity’s sake. Token hires do not signify a healthy organization. What you want is an organization that identifies and integrates how diverse viewpoints, histories, and perspectives can improve employee’s work lives.
- Work-life Balance Across Generations (down from #3). Work-life balance has dropped down the top ten list a bit. Perhaps that means we’ve solved it? Nah. But the additional wrinkle this year is the “across generations” bit. Older workers are increasingly being asked to be constantly connected, and younger works like being constantly connected but not necessarily to work.
- Increased Focus on Business Agility and Flexibility in Work and Business Processes. That model of the steadfast, concrete organization that knows exactly what it does and does that thing effectively, increasing its accuracy and precision over the year? Basically dead. Organizations these days need to react. The market changes, customers are fickle, and a cautious degree of risk-taking are what keep your business alive these days. That’s a lot of change, and not everyone is ready.
- Increasing Focus on Health and Wellness in the Workplace. As occupational health research takes a firmer and firmer foothold in people’s minds, we’re increasingly realizing that a healthy, happy workplace is a productive workplace. It’s not enough to stick a foosball table in the breakroom.
- Employee Engagement. Engagement is one of those workplace buzzwords that we just can’t seem to escape. Is it motivation? Is it something new? Who knows, but clients want their employees to have it.
- Changing Nature of Performance Management and Development. Something I’ve been saying for years – annual performance appraisals represent a broken system, possibly more harmful than helpful to many organizations. As all other parts of organizations have sped up, the slow and inefficient nature of appraisal has become all the more obvious. Effective performance management should be an on-going, continuous process. Don’t wait a year to tell your employees that they did something harmful, and don’t tell them in the context of a high-pressure meeting that could result in them either getting a raise or getting fired. There are better ways.
- Managing Virtual Teams. As an academic, it’s easy for me to forget that many organizations don’t have extensive telework systems incorporating virtual teams. I only see the research team I supervise once a week, but we still get quite a lot done. The reason is the Internet. We can coordinate, communicate, and work together without physically being in the same space. It’s not that hard these days from a technical perspective, but it does require you trust your team, and that’s where I/Os can help.
- Trends in Technology Are Changing the Way Work Is Done (up from #4). There’s my lab’s work again, at the top of this top ten list. Technology is fundamentally changing how people work, and it’s unclear how much of our research and how many of our standard practices still apply in this brave new world. But at least now people are recognizing the problem.
- Leveraging and Maximizing Big Data and Applying Correct Analytics to Make Better Business Decisions (up from #2). Nothing is as trendy right now as big data. In fact, it’s so trendy that many I-Os want to claim big data as their invention. To be clear, pretty much any I-O that says that doesn’t know what big data is. If you’ve never needed to worry about real-time curation and interpretation of datasets, or datasets with billions of cases, or iterative approaches to data analysis, or interactive visualizations, you’re nowhere close to big data. Big data is inherently interdisciplinary; it combines the social science that I-Os know so well with computer science that most I-Os don’t know at all. That can change, but we’re a long way from it now.
And there you have it – the top ten hottest topics for I/O in the coming year. Once again, technology plays a major role across the list, and I bet it will continue to do so for years to come. But as gamification appeared and disappeared from the list, and then mobile assessments the year after that, will big data vanish in 2017?
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