The first month of 2016 has already passed and everyone has shaken off the holiday rust and gotten back into their routines. But with 11 months still ahead of us, there are plenty of changes on the horizon to shake up that routine a bit.
As employee managers, HR managers, or executives, we have to always keep one eye on the task at hand and the other on the road ahead. What challenges may be popping up in the near future? What tools could soon be available to give you an edge?
Some things are certain, others are mere possibilities (but important ones at that). Let’s take a look at five employee management trends to keep an eye on for the year ahead.
1. Compliance will create some confusion
We’ve been talking a lot here about one major change looming in 2016: the raising of the FLSA overtime exemption threshold. The Department of Labor (DOL) will make about 5 million more U.S. employees eligible for overtime pay by raising the exempt salary level to $50,400/year.
The DOL's proposed changes may not be enacted until late in the year, but when they are, there will be ramifications for most businesses and, as such, each one should be readying themselves, their workers, and their budgets for the changes.
But that’s not all, of course. The first quarter of 2016 also marks the first time companies will be filing with the IRS for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as the start of ACA employer-shared responsibility requirements for businesses with 50 or more but fewer than 100 employees.
The DOL and the ACA are both bound to make compliance more confusing (and it may get even more so in this, an election year), but if there’s any consolation, it’s that we’re all in it together—a lot of questions will be asked by businesses large and small in the next few months.
2. Workforce demographics will change the way companies operate
Mid to large-sized companies are facing a changing workforce every year, but 2016 may represent an especially unique combination of changes which will move them away from a more traditional workforce structure.
Workers themselves are more discerning about the companies they work for, particularly among younger employees or potential hires. And boy, is the workforce getting younger—we’re just under six months from another crop of fresh college graduates who were all born in the mid-90s.
Millennials like to work for a company that stands for something, demonstrates a genuine interest in their employees, and has a challenging but not overly stressful environment. As their preferences have started to impact companies' hiring and overall philosophies, older workers are starting to look for the same things in the businesses for whom they choose to work.
3. Companies’ hiring practices will change to accommodate different generations in the workforce
The previous point will have a pronounced effect by changing the standards businesses use for hiring.
These changes largely apply to the younger generations—the energy and idealism millennials and other young workers bring to the table may prove them to be more valuable than their resumé, previous experience, or degree may imply. That can mean getting a bit creative in finding a fit in your company for good talent.
Furthermore, there’s a plethora of folks who have moved away from traditional employment in favor of becoming a freelancer or independent contractor. This is a perfect situation for companies just getting on board or ramping up their digital marketing programs—the workforce is now full of well-qualified professionals in content creation, design, and programming who can be hired on an as-needed basis.
It is especially worthwhile to note this trend for companies who anticipate having to shell out more overtime pay in the near future or lay off some of their employees. The platforms for vetting and hiring an independent contractor are better than ever, so there’s less uncertainty in what to expect when hiring freelancers.
4. Software, data, and analytics will come to HR & employee management
It’s been a big topic of conversation in the sales and marketing departments for the last few years, but 2016 should see a more data-driven approach coming to employee management as well.
There are plenty of companies out there that may still do a lot of recordkeeping and reporting by hand or, at best, in a mess of Excel spreadsheets. From scheduling and payroll to tracking and predicting employee performance, software and platforms have been developed to make businesses of any size more confident in what to expect from their workforce over the next week, month, or year.
Such tools have given companies an edge over their peers in how they market and sell; it’s reasonable to expect that those employers that use the best technology to communicate with, educate, and assess their employees will gain a similar edge.
5. Quick internal communication will reign supreme
By adopting better software or cloud services for HR, companies should begin to move away from the old benchmarks for assessing performance. Annual goals will fade away in favor of shorter-term ones. And because of the speed and accessibility of communication over these services, departmental or company-wide meetings won’t have to be called for every policy change or performance review.
Instead, HR can become a resource for communicating both from the top of the company down and vice versa. If a department head would like to enact a new strategy, they can quickly deliver it to every relevant worker in that moment. In the same way, employees with questions or concerns for management can voice their feelings without having to wait for office time and a face-to-face meeting.
All in all, employee management is due for an improvement in efficiency and 2016 stands to be the year in which the data and analytics revolution makes its way to HR.
Sources: Forbes, Lexology, JD Supra, Deloitte
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