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SIOP Announces Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2018

SIOP Administrative Office

Timely Workplace Topics Dominate as Sexual Harassment and Diversity Take Top Spots

SIOP is pleased to announce its fifth 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 need to address in 2018? Continue reading to learn more!

To create this list, SIOP asked its members for their predictions, compiled those predictions into a list of possible trends, and surveyed its members to identify which were the top 10 that organizations are likely to face in 2018. More than 800 members responded, and here’s what they had to say:

#10. The Gig Economy and Contract Work: The “side hustle” is a common phrase these days, but even the traditional day job in many industries is being replaced with contract work. With a growing industry of contractors and freelancers in this new “gig economy,” organizations will increasingly need to focus on selection, evaluation, and maximizing commitment of these non-traditional employees. Organizations will also need to consider how to house and support these contract workers, possibly providing co-working spaces through companies like Wework. Leaders will need to ask themselves how these new arrangements impact productivity and engagement for both traditional and non-traditional employees. Contract employees, on the other hand, will need to consider the realities of managing careers when they are “gigging” and consider the lower job security associated with these types positions.

#9. Automation of Jobs and Tasks: More than a third of U.S. jobs could be at “high risk” of automation by the early 2030s, according to a 2017 analysis by accounting and consulting firm PwC. For example, Amazon recently opened its first fully automated, employee-free store. New technology and innovations in the coming years may only increase the automation of tasks, which could have a profound impact on employees and organizations. Employees and employers will be faced with a potentially large amount of job disruption due to these changes, leaving organizations to address such issues as job insecurity, morale, efficiency, and training.

#8. Selecting, Training, Developing, and Retaining Millennials: Millennials now make up more than one in three American workers, according to Pew Research, surpassing Gen X to comprise the largest share of the workforce. Millennials have already proven to have impact on organizational culture and management, reshaping the workplace in a multitude of ways, and their significance will only grow as Boomers continue to age and leave the workforce. As this generation continues to push boundaries and redefine expectations, organizations may need to continue to redesign jobs and workspace to accommodate them. I-O psychologists can help organizations attract, retain, and engage these Millennials.

#7. Leadership Development and Improvement: As the workplace continues to be shaped by multiple forces (see trends relating to Millennials, AI, automation, gig economy, etc.), leadership will need to evolve along with it. Organizations may begin to focus more on defining and fostering the development of leadership skills that are necessary in this changing workplace. Tomorrow’s workplace will require that leaders provide employees more autonomy, coach and mentor senior/middle management through blended learning, train their employees to adapt to the changing world, and utilize digital platforms to manage their own development as well as their employees.

#6. Algorithmic Selection Systems and People Analytics: Data continues to proliferate, and
new technology, like applicant tracking systems and data visualization programs, are making it easier to analyze such data. Organizations will need to focus on how to leverage the massive amounts of data collected on employees to drive better insights. Using people analytics to understand the massive amount of data, organizations will likely find exciting new opportunities to increase productivity and effectively utilizing data to make decisions. I-O psychologists can contribute significantly to this subject by bringing research rigor, use of appropriate methods, and theory to the powerful skillset of data engineers and computer scientists. Using their expertise in organizational behavior and performance, I-O psychologists will pave the way in designing the type of data that should be gathered, and how the data can be used to inform future decisions.

#5. The Changing Nature of How People Work: It seems like gone are the days of the traditional 9-to-5 desk job. Employees are increasingly seeking flexible and remote work options. Further, new technologies such as augmented reality and brain-computer interface will change how people interact and communicate in the workplace and even how they get their work done. As these powerful forces of technology continue to shape the workplace, like the dawn of the Internet once did, organizations will need to consider important intended and unintended consequences that come from integrating them into the daily work life. Further, these new technologies come unchartered moral and ethical implications that will also need to be part of the conversation. I-O psychologists can assist organizations in determining how jobs will and should change, the ethical implications that may arise, and how organizations can best approach potential changes to ensure the best outcomes. 

#4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in I-O: Growing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace could have drastic implications for how organizations and employees function. These technologies are introducing new ways to measure personality and behavior of employees. Similar to trend #9, organizations will begin see AI used to complete tasks traditionally completed by human beings. Beyond computers, organizations will also need to address the unique challenges of employees working alongside technology. It is possible that employees begin to view forms of AI as “coworkers.” I-O psychologists can assist organizations in determining how to utilize AI and machine learning in legal, effective, and efficient ways. They can also help organizations understand human-machine interactions.

#3. Work-life Balance Interventions & Employee Wellness: SIOP members predict organizations will have a renewed focus on work-life balance this year, including focus on employee wellness initiatives. This may include an increased focus on human-centered employee perks, such as increased options for telework, onsite yoga, gyms, and biometric screening for employees. It may also include better measuring and tracking the employee lifecycle and orienting around a longitudinal view of an individual's experience with the organization to get a more complete picture of the employee experience. Organizations will need to consider the impact of more employees working remotely, as well as potential legal hurdles and privacy concerns when providing health and wellness programs. Organizations will also need to consider whether these practices lead to more satisfied, engaged employees and better organizational outcomes, including identifying how to best measure impact and outcomes.  

#2. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity: Diversity has found its way onto SIOP’s list the last several years, but in light of various trends and events of the last year, this topic seems even more urgent than ever. News stories highlighting exclusion of underrepresented groups (e.g., females, racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, etc.) pay inequity, and other issues may spur employers’ increasing interest in affirmative action, diversity, inclusion, and elimination of adverse impact in personnel decisions. And equity doesn’t just refer to equality on the basis of race or gender; there is a growing divide between corporate profits and corporate management compensation and employee compensation, which organizations may need to face or risk morale and reputational consequences. Specific issues include understanding how implicit/unconscious bias affects how you perceive and interact with others, the need to be more inclusive, and issues arising from an increasingly global workforce. I-O psychologists can help implement strategies resulting in a healthy, diverse workforce that is able to tap into the collective power of everyone within an organization. This may include implementing hiring practices and selection procedures that assess diverse characteristics or changing performance management processes to reward those who collaborate effectively within and across diverse teams. I-O psychologists can help influence how to create a physically and psychologically safe climate and a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect in addition to helping organizations optimize the benefits of diverse teams. They can also help create assessment and promotional processes and policies that are more fair and effective.

And the #1 trend this year…

#1. Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: One of the timeliest topics of 2017, sexual harassment dominated the headlines last year and continues to be a huge story into 2018. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, sixty percent of American women voters say they've experienced sexual harassment. Among women who say they've been harassed, 69 percent say they've experienced it at work. From coverage of high-profile entertainers and politicians to the recent Larry Nassar verdict, news stories show that sexual harassment and abuse can be found in all types of workplaces. With this increased focus on sexual harassment in the workplace, including evidence of companies with "toxic” cultures, I-O psychologist predict more organizations will focus on addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the coming year. This may include examining policies, improving company culture, creating and delivering sexual harassment training, and taking a closer look at bullying behaviors, among other actions. I-O psychologists, many of whom are experts on workplace culture and climate, gender issues, workplace safety, legal issues, and civility, are prime candidates to help inform and direct organizations’ responses to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. To read more about how I-O psychologists are already helping shape this conversation, click here

This year’s trend list was compiled by the SIOP Communications Department and the Media Subcommittee of SIOP’s Visibility Committee based on two online surveys sent to approximately 8,000 SIOP members November 2017 through January of 2018. Read last year’s list here. The 2016,  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 Paul Thoresen(organizationalpsychology@outlook.com), Media Subcommittee Chair. 

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