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SIOP Announces Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2016

SIOP Administrative Office

Big Data Wins Big, Technology and Changing Nature of Work Continue to Rise

SIOP is pleased to announce its third 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 2016?

To compile 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 2016. More than 700 of our members responded, and here’s what they had to say:

#10. Using Social Media to Make Employment-Related Decisions. Over the next year, organizations will increasingly leverage social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to recruit and screen potential employees as well as make other employment-related decisions (e.g., employees have been fired for showing bad judgment on Facebook or when they reveal confidential information in blog posts). The legal ramifications and potential concerns for using social networking sites when making these types of decisions are being raised by legal professionals and I-O psychologists alike. I-O psychologists can help organizations balance the risks while maximizing the benefits associated with using social media in employment practices.

#9. Building Healthy, Diverse Workforces. As organizations continue to recognize the importance of diversity to the success of their businesses, they will spend more time building workforces that value and appreciate this diversity. 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. It may also include offering training that focuses on teaching employees to recognize unconscious biases, allowing them to not only understand how those biases influence their behaviors but how their behaviors might be interpreted by others. With this understanding, behaviors can change to allow for more effective collaboration that leverages diversity and results in better business decisions and outcomes for customers.

#8. WorkLife Balance Across Generations. Because of increased reliance on social media, smartphones, and virtual work, the lines between personal and professional lives will continue to blur. Each generation within the workforce manages this overlap differently. For example, millennials want to stay connected 24/7, meaning that they are likely to be on Facebook throughout the day and working at odd hours. Older generations, on the other hand, are less likely to see this constant connection as positive or desirable. Work–life integration issues, including the debate between offering flex work versus having face time, are becoming increasingly important for organizations, and various options for managing work–life balance are likely to be more effective for some than for others. I-O psychologists can help employees maximize performance and thrive in a world with fewer boundaries between work and life and provide solutions for managing the different needs across generations.

#7. Increased Focus on Business Agility and Flexibility in Work and Business Processes. To be competitive, organizations must be agile. Work and business processes must be flexible so that organizations can respond quickly to meet market demands and changing customer needs. An important part of this is a willingness to take risks, learn from mistakes, and respond quickly so that innovations become a natural part of organizations’ ecosystems. I-O psychologists help organizations streamline processes and remove roadblocks to productivity that allow employees to focus on developing innovative solutions that meet their customers’ needs more quickly and effectively.

#6. Increasing Focus on Health and Wellness in the Workplace. Simply put, happy, healthy employees are more productive than those who are not. They take fewer sick days and are generally more engaged in their work. Providing the right perks and incentives to drive health-conscious behaviors and improved mental and physical well-being both at work and at home will only increase organizational effectiveness. I-O psychologists are able to provide insight into the best approaches for determining the “right” incentives and how to ensure employees take advantage of them. An organization may have a great combination of health-related benefits and perks, but if employees don’t take advantage of them, the organization will not realize the associated gains in productivity.

#5. Employee Engagement. Research shows that engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond their job duties, roles, and responsibilities to do more than is expected, help colleagues accomplish their work, and look for opportunities to drive innovations and improvements within their organization. While interest in employee engagement peaked several years ago, it is regaining momentum as organizations again realize its importance to their success. I-O psychologists can help determine the level of engagement within organizations and identify opportunities to increase it.

#4. Changing Nature of Performance Management and Development. More and more organizations are changing the way they approach performance management, moving from forced distributions and ranking systems to processes focused on continuous improvement that truly foster the development of employees rather than competition between them. Such approaches drive increased collaboration, foster healthy workforces, and result in better outcomes for customers. Performance management is no longer an event-driven process where conversations are held once or twice a year, but it is becoming an ongoing conversation between a manager and employee that encourages performance development. Managing performance is critical to the success of organizations, but few organizations do it well. Perhaps this trend in how organizations are approaching performance management will change that story. I-O psychologists are uniquely positioned to help organizations explore the different options related to performance development and define a process that works for your business.

#3. Managing Virtual Teams. Increasingly, work is becoming more about what you do rather than where you do it, as more people are working remotely from their homes or satellite locations. How do organizations help their employees manage themselves and their work in an increasingly dynamic, virtual workplace? How do organizations maintain high levels of productivity and employee engagement when fewer and fewer teams are working in the same location? I-O psychologists are working to help ensure virtual teams collaborate effectively and remain productive.

#2. Trends in Technology Are Changing the Way Work Is Done: We are becoming increasingly reliant on technology and automation that will likely change and, possibly, eliminate jobs. What does that mean for the work that your organization does? Will you need fewer employees in the future? Will they need different skills? What will your workforce look like? Are you planning for those changes in the way that you are currently hiring and training your employees? I-O psychologists can work with organizations to envision the impact that technology and automation will have on business in the future and help identify the skills your workforce will need to be successful in that world.

And the #1 trend this year…

#1. Leveraging and Maximizing Big Data and Applying the Correct Analytics to Make Better Business Decisions. This topic has become so popular within I-O psychology in recent years that SIOP is devoting an entire Leading Edge Consortium to analytics and big data in October of 2016! I-O psychologists can help organizations understand what secrets can be unlocked from your big data sets, what questions to ask, what hypotheses can be tested, apply the proper analysis, and provide appropriate interpretations to drive meaningful business decisions.

Key Findings:

  • Big data takes back center stage. “Big data/analytics” is back at the #1 spot this year after dropping from #1 in 2013 to #2 last year; “HR analytics and big data” placed a strong second last year.
  • Technology continues to rise. “Trends in technology” pushes this topic up two spots from last year, when “increasing implications of technology for how work is performed” ranked #4.
  • A big tumble for mobile assessments. Although the more general “trends in technology” places high on this year’s list, “mobile assessments” specifically has fallen off the list after being the #1 trend last year. Stay tuned to see if this trend makes a reappearance in future years!
  • Worklife balance and generational difference fall a few spots on the list but remain important by clearly staying in the top 10. The topics of work–life balance and generational issues fell a few spots this year. “Integration of work and nonwork life” placed third last year and “increased need to manage a multigenerational workforce” placed sixth while “work–life balance across generations” came in at #8 this year.
  • Diversity slips one spot. “Building healthy, diverse workforces” came in at #9 this year, but it shows a slight slip from the “changing face of diversity initiatives,” which came in at #8 last year.
  • Corporate social responsibility has dropped off the list. “Growth of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs” edged in at #9 last year, but CSR is nowhere to be seen in this year’s top 10. Will it be back in future years? Only time will tell.
  • Are corporations feeling a little more comfortable? Increased focus on business agility and flexibility” comes in at #7 this year while “organizations will continue to ‘do more with less’” seemed more pressing at #5 last year.
  • A few newcomers. New trends on this year’s list include “health and wellness” and “virtual teams,” ranking #6 and #3, respectively.
  • A greater emphasis on development over recruitment and selection. “Performance development” and “employee engagement,” rounding out the middle of the list at #4 and #5, appear to have displaced the more all-encompassing “emphasis on recruiting, selecting for, and retaining potential,” which ranked #7 last year.

This year’s trend list was compiled by the Media Subcommittee of SIOP’s Visibility Committee based on two online surveys sent to approximately 7,000 SIOP members August through December of 2015. To read last year’s list, click here. For the 2013 top trends list, click here.

To learn more about what SIOP’s Visibility Committee and Media Subcommittee are doing to drive awareness about I-O psychology, please contact Mark Rose (mark.rose.7@us.af.mil), Visibility Committee Chair, or Liberty Munson (libertymunson@live.com), Media Subcommittee Chair.


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