Every year I give my top ten workplace trend predictions for the upcoming year. You can read my predictions from 2013 and 2014 if you missed them. My objective is to capture all the research and insights that I have tracked through hundreds of studies released by my company and third parties each year, pulling the most significant trends from everything. The highest level trends are the skills gap, workers dropping out of the corporate system, the use of automation and outsourcing and the pressure for companies to get more lean. All of these factors have created a system where everyone is always under pressure to stay relevant, choose degrees that turn into jobs and constantly reinvent themselves. While there are a lot of obstacles to the 2015 workplace, there are also a lot of major opportunities with millions of boomers retiring and more remote working. Below are my top ten predictions for the workplace for 2015.
1. Companies hiring Generation Z for internships.
While many companies are still trying to understand and connect with Gen Y (or millennials), some companies are going to be heavily invested in the upcoming generation, Gen Z. Gen Z’s, born between 1994 and 2010, will become a major target for companies looking to recruit interns next year. The oldest Gen Z will be a senior in college in 2015. In addition, more companies are going to be recruiting high school students for their internship programs, including Deloitte, Microsoft, Rackspace and Lockheed Martin. In a study earlier this year, we found that half of employers are either currently accepting applications from high school students for internships or plan to this year. Companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and VMware are already paying high school students thousands of dollars to be interns and next year more companies will jump on board. This is happening for two major reasons: 1) companies are trying to close the skills gap (STEM) 2) companies are desperately trying to compete for the very best talent so they have to build brand awareness early and that means high school.
2. More millennials are taking leadership roles.
A few years ago, PayScale.com and my company found that nearly 13% of all millennials in America were managers already. That number is expected to grow in 2015 as millennials become the largest percentage of the workforce for the very first time. In a new study between my company and Elance oDesk, we found that 27% of millennials are already managers, 5% are senior management and 2% are executives. In 10 years, 47% want to be managers or senior managers, 7% want to be executives and 15% want to be business owners. Ernst & Young has also helped identify this trend by reviewing their own workforce composition and finding that 59% of their managers are already millennials and 18% are senior managers. 90% of all millennials who are managers took their role in the past five years. In another study by CareerBuilder, they found that 38% of the workforce is already managed by millennials and that’s already caused a few problems including favoritism towards other millennials and them thinking they know more than older workers. The problem these new managers are having is that they are unprepared for the positions. They were never trained on how to be good managers and are being pushed into these roles out of necessity – companies are losing older workers and positions are opening up fast.
3. Honesty becomes a revered leadership trait.
Companies are going to start embracing transparency more next year as younger generations are demanding it. Leaders won’t just have to be good at inspiring and educating, they will have to be able to instill trust through honesty. In a recent study, we found that 52% of Gen Z’s and Gen Y’s state that honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader. One companies that has exhibited the art of transparency is Whole Foods. Their company policy is that all employees can easily look up salary or bonus data from the previous year. It’s only natural that people would want to work under leaders who are open about what the company is doing, where it’s heading in the future and give honest feedback regularly. Social media is continuing to push companies to be more open and for leaders to share more of their activities on a daily basis.
4. The skills gap continues to widen.
If you ask any HR executive what their biggest challenges are, the skills gap is typically unanimously noted. I’ve been paying close attention to this trend over the past few years and the gap is actually widening instead of closing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 4.7 million job openings in June and more than half of employers say that they can’t find qualified candidates. This issue will progress until the college curriculum aligns with the current job marketplace. This year, we found that only 2% of companies are recruiting liberal arts majors but schools still offer those degrees. Companies need to start working with colleges so that students get the necessary skills to fill the gap.
5. The continuous job search picks up.
Companies are going to have to deal with even more retention issues next year as job hopping picks up. Employees are undergoing a continuous job search job and are never settling. This is happening because technology has enabled people to easily find new jobs and for recruiters to steal talent in numbers. 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expert workers to job hop. The only thing that companies can do to increase retention rates is by creating a superior work culture where employees have friends, are engaged in their work and get perks.
6. Mobile hiring and the mobile job search explode.
Next year there will be an even greater emphasis on mobile recruiting. 83% of job seekers currently use smartphones to search for job openings yet only 20% of the Fortune 500 companies have a mobile friendly career site. 45% of active candidates have applied to a job on their mobile device. Companies are going to have to start optimizing their websites and even creating mobile applications in order to appeal to the on the go job seeker. With more people constantly moving around, taking their work with them, companies need to be able to promote opportunities where they are at all times.
7. Social media posts used to attract and retain talent.
We will start seeing more social media updates, and blog posts, from companies in 2015. In order to stand out as an employer, companies will need to start posting more work culture related posts and leveraging their employees to share them. 58% of people are more likely to want to work at a company if they are using social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at their companies if they are using social media. People want to work for interesting companies and when they see social media posts, it gives them a better sense of what they are about. They are sick of seeing press releases and corporate websites and want something that is more “real”.
8. Succession planning becomes a top priority.
There is no doubt that succession planning is going to be a major concern for companies starting next year as more boomers start to retire. One of the ways that companies are handling succession planning is to keep some workers on the payroll. About 65% of workers plan to work for pay in retirement. You will start to see companies hold onto their older workers in order to transfer their knowledge to younger ones. Many CEOs are going to be retiring this fall too, including Deloitte’s, Molson Coors and Ford’s Mulally retired earlier this year.
9. Women continue to seize power positions in the workplace.
There’s been a lot of chatter about women in the workplace over the past few years and that conversation isn’t going to die out in 2015, it will accelerate. As more millennials occupy positions in the workplace, the wage gap will start to close. A study by Pew Research shows that millennial women are now earning 93 cents for every dollar earned by men. New research also shows that the top financially successful companies have 37% of their leaders as women and 12% are high-potential women. With trends such as couples not having children, delayed adulthood, and more women attending college, there’s no doubt that we will see more female leaders.
10. More people stepping out of traditional career paths.
Every year we are going to see even more freelancers, both out of choice and out of necessity. Companies are looking to hire more temp workers and consultants because it’s cheaper and they don’t have to pay them benefits. Also, freelancing is seen as a more legitimate and obtainable career path these days due the Internet and the accessibility it’s given people. A recent study by Elance-oDesk shows that 53 million Americans are now freelancers, which is 34% of the American workforce. 69% of them say that technology is making it easier to find freelance work, and since technology is always improving, these numbers are going to grow year over year.