37098901_sThe workplace has changed substantially in the last 10 years. Work is more complex, with more distractions than ever, from technology, email, texts, voicemail, social media, instant messages, meetings, project work, and team-based work. Employees work in teams, collaboratively, with more social skills and less time, anywhere and anytime. To compete in today’s economy, companies reorganize more and run lean operations with less job security and lifelong career opportunity for the employees who work for them.

The Society for Human Resource Management is plugged into what’s going on in the workforce. The SHRM Workplace Forecast explains the workplace trends and themes from the last decade, including an aging workforce with more health problems and caregiving responsibilities, the retirement of the Baby Boomers, and a persistent skills shortage. These are the workplace realities employees and employers alike have to deal with today and moving toward 2025.

 

More Employees are Caregivers

The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that more than 50 million people in the U.S. are in caregiver roles, and one third of them are taking care of two or more people. This is creating an urgent need for flexible work policies for employees to be able to meet their personal responsibilities and ways to help caregivers stay healthy. Caregiver employees have more health problems according to a 2010 MetLife study on employed caregivers.

 

More Employees with Chronic Health Conditions

SHRM cites a National Academy of Sciences report that found that Americans live shorter lives and are in poorer health than people in other high-income countries. The report explains this is because of unhealthy behaviors and inadequate health care systems. The U.S. gets poor marks in nine important health areas that will cost employers directly in both dollars and global competitiveness, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and disability. Today’s employers have to pay attention to wellness and preventive health care strategies to help employees protect their health and keep healthcare costs under control.

 

Baby Boomer Retirement

It’s not new information that the Baby Boomer generation is leaving the workforce for retirement and taking their experience and talent with them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) “Employment Outlook: 2010-2020” report forecasts that replacement needs from retiring Boomers will mean more than 50 million job openings between 2010 to 2020 in almost every occupation.

The Millennial generation is larger than the Baby Boomer generation leaving the workforce, but isn’t prepared to step into the roles vacated by older workers. New workers in the labor market need to be at least as educated as the retiring Boomers, and may need even higher levels of training and education than those leaving the roles they will fill. But getting the preparation they need is more difficult and younger workers are not confident that they are prepared or have a way to get prepared for career and advancement.

Employers have to find ways to fill the gaps, such as lowering education and training requirements or providing more resources for employee development, outsourcing and automating work, and actively developing workforce leaders.

These workplace trends mean employers have to do more with and for their workforces to address today’s realities and prepare for future business operations and success. The skills and talent crisis means investing more in employee and leadership development. Rising healthcare costs and increasing employee health care issues mean a focus on and investment in wellness programs. More employees conflicted between work and personal responsibilities means employers have to recognize the challenges and needs of the employees who come in to work every day to take care of their business and customers and offer real support for work/life balance.

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