The U.S. Employment Participation Rate remains far below pre-Recession levels in 2019, but companies are hiring those looking for work. Unemployment rates were 4.1% or below throughout the last twelve months, which means offices constantly welcomed new workers in their spaces.
The workplace continues evolving at a rapid pace, from time clocks and fax machines in the 1980s to smoke-free, more eco-friendly office spaces 20 years later. New technologies, demographics, and regulations are ushering in even more shifts in office culture, particularly as work and life increasingly intersect. Here are three trends to watch for in 2019
Millennials account for 35% of the U.S. labor force, surpassing Generation X in 2016 as the highest percentage of workers in the USA, according to Pew data. Generation Z, or the iGen as some refer to them, are those born after 1996. These young Americans started graduating high school in 2014 and from college last year. Consulting firm Bridgeworks estimates that there are 61 million Gen Z’ers who will be entering the workforce in 2019. This phenomenon presents new challenges for employers.
Gen Z is the first group of Americans to grow up with internet and smartphones for their entire lives. Social interaction is thus not their strong point, since this generation grew up communicating by text messages, email, and social media. Team chat and collaboration tools like Slack, Fleep, and Rocket Chat are expecting to see increased usage as a result. Recruiters are also facing new challenges. Company brands, culture, and benefits are more important to Gen Z than pay, with the most important benefit being able to work remotely part of the week.
The iGen also needs more feedback and coaching. An APPrise Mobile survey of office manager found that 30% believe it will be more difficult to manage and train this group because of online upbringing.
Traditional walls are outdated in the 2019 office as they create a sense of division among team members. Instead companies are using alternative types of office partitions that keep the work floor open, while providing enough privacy and noise reduction for workers to remain productive.
Many offices are using modern freestanding partitions that identify certain work areas, while keeping it open. The floor supervisor, for instance, has a wall-type partition in front of their office with the sides wide open. The idea is to maintain adaptability and agility in modern office filled with nomadic workers with mobile desks and laptop computers. Various types of materials are used as dividers to designate one end of the office as the "quiet" area and the other as the recreation room.
Some companies are eliminating cubicle partitions altogether to present their offices as harmonious spaces where everyone works together. These firms utilize portable folding screens that can be mounted, removed, and stored in a matter of minutes.
Wellness programs are far more common for government workers than in the private sector, according to data from Bureau of Labor Statistics. But said data also found that the more a worker is paid, the more likely they are to have access to a wellness program.
The idea of wellness programs are to lower absenteeism and health care costs. Workers are offered discounted gym memberships, incentives to ride their bikes to work, to stop smoking, etc. But conflicting data as to the effectiveness of wellness programs and the return on investment for companies have slowed mass implementation. One study from 2010 found that healthcare costs dropped by $3.27 for every dollar invested in wellness. Contrarily a 2018 paper by University of Illinois researchers found that wellness programs provide "no significant effect" on absenteeism or healthcare costs.
Get your office ready for 2019 by implementing modern policies, while utilizing furniture and decor that inspires workers to maximize their potential.