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Will 2018 Be The Year When Workplace Productivity Soars?

Well, in a word, “maybe”. From a statistical perspective, assuming you’re holding a Magic 8-Ball, “Signs Point To Yes”, but from a talent point of view, we might be relegated to “Ask Again Later”.

This year, the rise of the hourly workers led to workforce management breakthroughs.  You might be thinking, how will this also impact the trend for 2018? Safe to say that workforce management data is looking pretty good for 2018. Unemployment is expected to decrease slightly, job creation is expected to increase significantly between 2018 and 2020,  and salaries are forecasted to rise slightly. Conversely, the workforce is changing, in some cases right before our very eyes. Older workers will continue to grow, but the overall workforce will not. All eyes are on talent acquisition, finding the right employees who believe in what you believe in, and offering advantages that are beneficial to all while still driving productivity that impacts the bottom line. So, the word is out, but there are a few trends that we’ll see next year that can make a difference for employers who choose to implement these approaches.


Any trends need to address the aging workforce. The Labor Force Participation Rate is expected to be the fastest growing for people ages 65-74; this is in contrast to all other age groups that will not see growth between now and 2024. Boomers are working longer for a variety of reasons from being healthier and living longer, to being better educated, and in some cases, fearing pending changes to Social Security laws. The smart employers will look to keep this group, also known as the Silver Tsunami, active and engaged. According to the American Society of Aging, there are a few practices that will keep older workers energized and appreciated:

  • Accessible parking spaces
  • Screen magnification software
  • Flexible scheduling due to stamina issues or the effects of medications
  • Periodic rest breaks away from the workstation
  • Implementation of text messaging for communication
  • Part-time work schedules
  • A sit-stand desk
  • Time off for medical treatment

Diversity is also a trend that will need to be top-of-mind with employers in 2018. Scrutiny will be intense, as it should be, and everything from pay scales to inclusiveness is on the table. But can pro-diversity policies actually impact productivity? Most people believe it can, and does. Most importantly, diverse workforces typically develop better and more creative ideas because the cohort’s backgrounds and experiences are different. Also, workplaces that, say, better mirror a community’s citizenry, are often times looked at in a more positive way than other companies who might not sense the need for inclusion; and finally, chances are that any company housing a global operation would find diversity to be essential in capitalizing on international markets. 


Next up is human interaction. Work areas are being redesigned everyday to promote dialog between cohorts and departments. From long community tables to café’s and collaboration stations, businesses understand that productivity is directly linked to human interaction. In fact, Steve Jobs famously redesigned the offices at Pixar Studios in an effort to fuel creativity, which originally housed executives in one building, animators in another, and computer scientists in a third building. Steve Jobs said, “If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity.” Yes, human interaction is imperative to productivity, even in sole proprietorships where single-employee firms are seeing the advantages of setting-up shot in co-working offices and shared suites.


Finally, one trend that’s gaining in popularity, but we don’t think of often enough is wellness, particularly financial and mental. With many Americans living from paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s only fitting to acknowledge that there’s stress in the workplace due to the financial concerns of workers. But it’s not just financial challenges that can create workforce inefficiencies. Mental health, always swept under the rug due to the stigmas attached to it, is increasingly becoming more of an HR function as they serve as counselors and supporters to workers with mental health problems. Financial stress and mental health challenges severely curtail productivity. Some statistics reveal that combined, they can result in 11 days of missed work annually, and that’s no small matter. Many companies make available wellness programs and even financial planning opportunities as part of their benefit offerings.


So, how do workforce management software companies like Workloud, for instance, improve productivity in the workplace? They do through technology and innovation in employee scheduling software, time and attendance applications, and absence management systems, but in the end, it’s staying on top of the trends, understanding workers’ needs, and addressing challenges and hardships along the way. Having an employee management software and over-all  workforce management solution doesn't only increase productivity but also hits specific pain points.  Companies like Workloud, who work with employers across the country, typically have valuable insights into the trends that play a critical role in workplace excellence.

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Originally published December 11, 2017, updated January 24, 2018
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