Workplace trends aren’t necessarily doomed to be obsolete, but as we ring in the New Year, we can expect to see some new ones storm into the office. 2019 saw the rise of people analytics and employee engagement, both with foundational elements intended to improve the retention and recruitment of scaling companies worldwide. We experienced a new wave of employee recognition initiatives as well, with new programs embedding themselves into company cultures to increase productivity and employee happiness.
2020 will reign in some up and coming trends that needed some reinvention by way of digital and collaboration tools before they could truly take off. We need to adapt to these workplace trends in order to succeed as growing businesses, which allow people leaders and HR departments to do their jobs at optimal levels while inspiring employees to stay motivated and productive at all costs.
Age diversity will expand in the workplace
For the first time ever, there are four generations in the workplace at the same time. We’re currently navigating office environments that contain a heavy mix of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers trying to come together as a unified force. Each generation, in their own way, is learning to work cohesively amongst a barrage of different skill sets and levels of experience.
2020 will be a major year for HR departments to foster and cherish the unique perspectives that their employees from various generations will bring to the company. For this particular trend, we predict a definite increase and emphasis on culture-building and team-bonding activities that engage these different age groups effectively, with a focus on eliminating the formation of company “cliques” that have traditionally cultivated based on age. Inclusive company culture is one that transcends all boundaries that include age or generational influence, providing the necessary resources (ex: workshops, counseling services, reviews) that equip different types of demographics for the work world they currently occupy and wish to succeed in.
National politics will be a workforce hot topic
It’s difficult (in more ways than one) to steer clear of office politics chatter. With the 2020 election looming, there is potential for debate and disagreement to create workplace conflicts and if these conflicts escalate, shouting matches or long-term resentment between colleagues become probable.
It is imperative that companies learn to navigate this imminent trend; talking politics at work is likely to cause a divide if not regulated via the proper channels.
Begin by monitoring the activity on messaging and collaboration tools your people use, you can mitigate politics talk by policing unwelcome conversation.
As a result, HR departments are likely to experience added job pressure and will be expected to establish guidelines and policies for political discussions that take place in the workplace - online and offline. Private employers do have the right to restrict employee speech and behavior, and many will implement a ban on what you can say, how you can say it, where, and to whom. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to advertise your political views in the office, and instead refrain from expressing them.
That said, some companies have little to lose when aligning with one politician or issue, and may make their political stance part of their company culture. For example, Patagonia spoke out surrounding its eco-conscious mission and anti-corporate ethos, and Nike featured controversial Colin Kaepernik in its ad campaign, neither of which have hurt the company on a broad scale. There are companies who will fully embrace the political climate to spark a change in culture, or to let its employees and consumers know they are being heard. There is a fine line, however, when implementing such a strategy in the workplace. Any political debates or discussions would be most productive with a mediator involved if the trend is embraced as such.
Micro-cultures and “tribes” will affect office identity
The development of tribes and micro-cultures will greatly impact overall corporate identity, for better and for worse. When we think about company culture, we often think about the general values and mission of the larger workplace scope. At Hibob, we’ve noticed a real demand in establishing a culture at the micro-level, and we predict that in 2020, cultivating a strong company culture will shift more from the macro to this micro-level we’re enriching.
In 2020, managers and direct bosses may take a more active role in establishing the culture of their group, team, department, or “tribe”. Culture will not just be implemented on a company-wide scale, but a need for distinct culture will also be emphasized within each group.
Often times, this culture may be a bit different from the culture of the overall firm and give the company’s smaller groups more agency and a sense of belonging from day-to-day. It’s natural for smaller groups or teams to speak their own lingo and share inside jokes while curating their own set of traditions and processes that get them through the workday as they bond. This sort of micro-level will only induce productivity and sustain happiness by being included.
Moving into 2020, HR departments and people leaders alike have their work cut out for them. They’re not just required to adopt trends that introduce themselves in the form of technological tools or themed fun days; they need to embrace the timely workplace trends that are relevant to their people’s current place in history.
Gearing up to police political discussions at work, learning to mediate and blend separate age groups, and lighting a fire that fuels micro-culture aspects are just a few new trends that HR needs to prepare to initiate. These new trends will make the work world a more diverse landscape to be part of, and will improve the way we interact as coworkers and people working towards similar goals in the same space.