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SIOP Announces Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2017

SIOP Administrative Office

SIOP is pleased to announce its fourth annual Top 10 Workplace Trends list!

Industrial-organizational psychologists study workplace issues of critical relevance to business, including talent management, coaching, assessment, selection, training, organizational development, performance, and work–life balance. What workplace needs are I-O psychologists predicting businesses will want to address in 2017?

To create this list, SIOP asked its members for their predictions, compiled those predictions into a list of possible trends, and surveyed our members to identify which were the top 10 that organizations are likely to see emerge or continue to grow in 2017. More than 800 of our members responded, and here’s what they had to say:


#10. Increased Focus on Employee Health and Wellness: Stress has become a fact of life for today’s average employee—whether it is caused by increasing workplace demands, a changing organizational environment, or economic hardships. As research continues to illuminate the effects of stress on employee satisfaction, motivation, effectiveness, and engagement, employers can expect to place more emphasis on safeguarding their employees’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being for the benefit of the organization. I-O psychologists can help design and implement training and programs designed to help employees manage stress, find work–life balance, improve workplace safety, and find time to remain physically fit in spite of workplace demands.


#9. Data Integration Across Sources, Systems, and Processes: Data are ubiquitous in today’s organizational climate, and this year will see a greater focus on data integration. Organizations will focus on combining multiple disparate pieces of workforce data (e.g., engagement surveys, HRIS data, exit interview data) and performing analytics across data and over time. Employers will need to improve data analytics across the enterprise—with a greater focus on gathering it, mining it, analyzing it, and interpreting it. We will see an increased use of data collection methods, and organizations may begin to explore nontraditional frontiers, such as marrying internal with external data and measuring social networks/collaboration. I-O psychologists can help organizations design data sources to allow this integration; they also have the statistical background to analyze and interpret those data sources to provide valuable insights into the employee experience.


#8. Growing Importance of Diversity and Inclusion: From recruitment to selection to experiences on the job, this year organizations will focus on diversity and inclusion and how they drive organizational outcomes. Specific issues include understanding how implicit/unconscious bias affects how you interact with others, an increased diversification in the workplace, the need to be more inclusive, and issues arising from an increasingly global workforce. I-O psychologists develop training and programs that will help employees recognize their unconscious biases and understand how it shapes their behaviors.


#7. Capturing the Voice of the Employee: Employees’ voices will become more important to organizations this year as they focus on collecting employee feedback more frequently, utilizing innovations for capturing that feedback, and taking action to drive engagement based on those results. Organizations may explore changes to the way they capture employees’ voices and move beyond quantitative surveys to qualitative measures and other nontraditional approaches, such as utilizing continuous listening/pulse surveys and examining passive data for employee opinions and behaviors. I-O psychologists are uniquely qualified to help organizations develop, implement, and analyze data from employee feedback.


#6. The Changing Nature of the Workforce: As Baby Boomers continue to retire and younger generations enter the workforce, organizations’ demographics will evolve, with lasting implications for organizational culture and management. Millennials and later generations have reshaped the workplace in a multitude of ways and will continue to push boundaries and redefine expectations as they take on a more prominent role within organizations. Organizations may need to continue to redesign jobs and workspace to accommodate Millennials. At the same time, new technology and innovations will push for further automation of tasks and the growing use of artificial intelligence could have drastic implications for how organizations and employees function. I-O psychologists can assist organizations in determining how jobs will and should change and how organizations can best approach potential changes to ensure the best outcomes. 

#5. Flexibility and Its Effect on the Way Work Is Done: For many employees, the typical 9-to-5 Monday through Friday work schedule is a remnant of the past. Continued focus on the benefits and drawbacks of offering more flexibility for employees will put this topic at the forefront of many employers’ minds this year. As more organizations begin to embrace flexible work schedules and arrangements, telecommuting, and virtual teams, a greater emphasis will need to be placed on how these changes affect the way people get their work done, how they collaborate, and how to create meaningful, satisfying interpersonal interaction among remote workforces.  I-O psychologists can offer evidence-based solutions to institute and improve flexible work arrangements and can assist organizations in understanding whether and when flexible work arrangements help or hinder employee well-being and effectiveness. They can offer powerful insights, tools, and strategies for leveraging flexibility to produce the best organizational outcomes.


#4. People Analytics: Not only will organizations be focused on integrating data from across multiple sources and systems, but they will also see a growing focus on using analytics to address talent-related questions. Talent/people analytics will continue to be a top priority for organizations this year, with employers using analytics for HR decision making, assisting in selection decisions, and talent identification and management. Organizations will need to focus on how to leverage the massive amounts of data collected on employees to drive better insights. I-O psychologist are ideally suited to helping organizations predict workforce trends and can provide predictive analytics to help answer people-related questions using data. They can also assist in addressing the ethical issues in using big data, standardizing processes, incorporating big data into personnel research, and driving awareness of issues such as validity and privacy.


#3. Leveraging Big Data to Make Data-Driven Decisions: Big data has been one of the biggest organizational buzz words for several years, but data aren’t of much use without taking action on it. This year, we will see organizations work to tie all their data to workforce planning to make better, informed business and workforce decisions. Data-based strategic decision making will go beyond data analytics to create meaningful data-based action plans. I-O psychologists can assist in statistical analysis and help companies use the results wisely. As the marketplace proliferates with new "Business Intelligence" vendors and solutions that are advertised to uncover "hidden trends" in organizations’ data, I-O psychologists can help bring science-based solutions to the workplace and help business leaders understand what's realistic and what's not. I-O psychologists can play a role in leveraging all forms of data to help organizations, leaders, and employees make better, more fact-based decisions. They can help companies understand the true potential of advanced analytics and produce solid business insights by using strong evaluation methodology and focusing on the validity of big data.


#2. Adapting to Change Effectively: The workplace continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace. In response to those changes, organizations will need to focus on increasing agility and working efficiently and effectively in the face of constant change. Major structural changes are occurring in the world economy, and many organizations are not equipped to think strategically about those changes and their workforce implications. I-O psychologists can assist companies with adapting their culture to changing workforce needs and helping leaders adapt to a changing world through adaptive leadership.


And the #1 trend this year…


#1. The Changing Nature of Performance Management: How to evaluate and manage performance has been one of the key issues organizations have faced in recent years. News headlines have focused on large corporations ending annual performance reviews and ratings, but what will take their place? As organizations continue to face issues with traditional performance management systems proving ineffective or having a negative impact on engagement and culture, they can expect a greater need to think outside the traditional performance review box and focus more on evolving and redesigning performance management systems, rethinking annual reviews and ratings, and evaluating goal setting.

Organizations can expect to rely less on once-a-year performance appraisals and more on frequent feedback and coaching to put the focus on improving performance. Strategies, such as continuous performance management, will lead to a greater emphasis on real-time feedback, daily manager–employee relationships and an increased need for managers to acquire the skills to coach and deliver timely feedback to employees. I-O psychologists will continue to research and identify the right balance between coaching and more formal organization-wide processes. I-O psychologists can also play a role in critically assessing the efficacy of new performance management systems.


Key Findings

  • Performance management has pushed to the top of the list. As performance management continues to change, it appears to be gaining traction in the eyes of I-O psychologists. Performance management has been on the list the last 4 years, but it takes the #1 spot this year, climbing from #4 last year (Changing Nature of Performance Management and Development), #7 (Emphasis on Recruiting, Selecting for, and Retaining Potential) on 2015’s list and #3 in 2014 (The Talent Question).
  • Big data and analytics slips from the top but continue to be very important. Although big data and analytics has slipped out of the top two spots this year, data-related trends take up three spots this year, the most of any previous list (#3. Leveraging Big Data to Make Data-Driven Decisions, #4: People Analytics, and #9. Data Integration across Sources, Systems, and Processes). Big data/analytics has held a spot on the list every year so far, so it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.
  • “Technology” falls off the list, but it’s more relevant than ever. Technology has dropped off this year’s list, but it continues to be an overarching theme in almost every trend this year. “Trends in technology are changing the way work is done” came in at #2 last year. Although the term “technology” isn’t on this year’s list, that technology is essential to nearly all of this year’s trends, whether it is using new technology to capture the voices of employees (#7), the implications of technology, such as automation, on the changing workforce (#6), the necessity of technology for workplace flexibility (#5), or the multitude of ways technology fosters data collection and analysis (#3, #4, #9), technology and its role in the workplace can be seen across this year’s list.
  • Social media has dropped off the list. Although social media has completely dropped off the list this year from its #10 place spot last year, it may still remain relevant to the several data-driven trends this year, such as data integration across sources, at #9. Will it become more integrated into the workplace across all trends like technology has?
  • A lot of changes. Several of the trends on this list signify great changes in the way workplaces function. Whether it’s changes to long-time performance management strategies, changes to the way work is performed, changes in the workforce demographics in general, or helping organizations adapt to those multitudes of changes, it appears “change” will be a major trend itself in organizations this year.

This year’s trend list was compiled by SIOP Communications Department and the Media Subcommittee of SIOP’s Visibility Committee based on two online surveys sent to approximately 8,000 SIOP members October through December of 2016. Read last year’s list here. The 2015 and 2014 lists are also available on the SIOP website.  

To learn more about what SIOP’s Visibility Committee and Media Subcommittee are doing to drive awareness about I-O psychology, please contact Stephanie Klein (srklein42@hotmail.com), Visibility Committee Chair, or Liberty Munson (Liberty.Munson@microsoft.com), Media Subcommittee Chair.

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