Wow… 2017 is almost here. Another year goes past, with a lot happening in employee engagement and team building. Are you set for the year ahead? Before you say yes, look at these trends and see if your plans are aligned.

Trend # 1 – Gen-Y meets Gen-Z under Gen-X’s Watch

Some organizations haven’t yet found answers for engaging their Gen-Y workforce, and now here comes Gen-Z. What’s the big deal you may ask? Well, this is the first year when all three generations will be working together! And, here is the kicker: some of your Gen-Y employees will be in managerial positions, trying to steer the careers of Gen-Z. Just like any generation, Millennials will negatively stereotype Gen Z’s as being laid back. This is bound to lead to friction at the workplace.

On the positive side though, engaging and involving multiple generations of employees, will require a transformation in policies, workplace, rewards, and more focus on personal aspirations of individuals. If any, this is going to be one of the most challenging years for Human resources, Internal Communications, and Employee Engagement functions.

Trend # 2 – Employee Engagement in the World of Agile and DevOps

If you think that Agile and DevOps are only methodologies that concern IT employees – then, you are mistaken.

Agile and DevOps will be a way of life in the workplace. This means a massive shift in the way employees think and behave. Experiential learning and internal communication programs will have to be created to help employees embrace the new agile world and ensure that mind-shift happens rapidly.

Trend # 3 – More Women at the Workplace

This is perhaps, the best of all the developments that will happen in 2017. Thanks to the culture shift and organizational policies, we will see more women joining the workforce. While organizational maturity quotient will go up several notches, it will also pose new challenges – pushing organisations for better workplace practices that are diversity friendly and inclusive. Managing a healthy and engaging workplace will be key.

Trend # 4 – Whose Culture is it Anyway

This is a tricky one. All of us still like to believe that Culture and Values are the critical anchors that drive everyone towards a common goal. They’ve certainly done their job for a while. No doubt. But how critical will Culture and Values be in the new world? With organisations spreading globally, and creating workplaces that have locally relevant policies, the old notion of what organizational culture is, is in danger of ceasing to exist.

The years ahead will see several cultures mushrooming in each organization, and would evolve or devolve into being relevant at a team level, rather than an organization wide being. We’re not being soothsayers here, but just taking a shot at what we think will happen.

A sort of tribal culture of individual groups will come into being. The team manager will be influential in creating the culture and driving it. Organisations may define an outline, but it’s these tribal cultures that set the future of the workplace. Internal Communications and Employee Engagement functions will need to be more dynamic to address concerns and issues at these levels.

Trend # 5 – Employee Experience and Personalization

Most organizations singing the “Digital” song to their clients are conveniently forgetting to do the same with their employees. This year would mark a great shift in the way employers invest in personalizing their employee communication. We will see several digital companies emerging with the typical big data and collaboration pitch. I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but I have a feeling that after all the significant investments in digital technologies, the employer will still not know what employees really want! My fear is in the implementation. One cannot use the same principles that are used for customer experience to define the employee experience. This is even more complex and needs to be executed by experts, which is a rarity.

Trend # 6 – Automation Resources vs. Human Resources

Automation will take over in a big way in 2017. Automation in already lean, and barely staffed companies, will certainly lead to concern and confusion among employees. No organization can stay away from automation, but at the same time will have to ensure that the existing and new breed of employees are either re-skilled or moved to other roles. It is vital for HR, Internal Communication, and Employee Engagement to enable this transition in a win-win way so that the organization doesn’t lose important talent.

Trend # 7 – Flexibility is the Enemy

Global, connected, flexible, collaborative. Well, these are all the buzz words used in defining the corporate workplace today. All these employee friendly strategies (which employees don’t think so) will work against the organization from a team productivity perspective – and hence organizational performance and success. Call me old school, but teams who don’t meet each other regularly, who don’t work under the same roof (even for a few days in a week), who don’t enjoy and celebrate together, and who don’t share the same vision, cannot fire as one unit. Seeing all the team members together, at least once a week is a rarity today. Team building is too far away.

Trend # 8 – Compete with Your Own Talent

Startup culture is the big fad across India. Organizations have started to realize that the “entrepreneurial bug” has been biting far too many employees. Companies have gone overboard (rightfully so) promoting “empowerment” and “entrepreneurial spirit” among its employees that everyone is looking forward to the opportunity. Organizations are rapidly losing their most valuable talent. Not just that, the people who are going out are poaching other employees too. Organizations, in a nutshell, will start competing with their own talent. This is not a new phenomenon, just that the number of entrepreneurs quitting well paying jobs, to strike out on their own, have grown at least 10X in the last few years. This is a nightmare that any Employee Engagement and Human Resources would want to avoid.

Trend # 9 – Trumped

I sincerely hope that this trend will not occur at all. If most of the H1B and other employees in international locations return and if the reverse brain drain happens – it will be a challenging time for HR and Employee Engagement teams. All people who are returning, though Indians, will carry a different culture and mindset. Adjusting to the realities of a Indian workplace and local  company policies , not to mention a change in lifestyle, will be nothing short of a shock. Managing such situations and helping them gel well with local employees needs to start from the ground-up.

Now, we may not have answers to all of these. But yes, we can definitely help address most concerns with engagement and communication ideas that can help alleviate the pains of the transition. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to know how to build an incredibly engaging workplace.

All the very best for the new year, and we wish you and your employees an engaging experience in 2017.