A new U.S. presidential administration is just one of the many changes the world can expect in 2017. But with the new administration comes a host of new policy changes likely to affect business trends and how people work. Here are five business trends that will shape how people work this year.
- Private Companies Will Start Setting Social Policy
In the wake of a new presidential administration, private companies will start setting social policy, rather than waiting for politicians to do it. For example, as the debate over a new, universal minimum wage continues, individual companies are making the decision to embrace a living wage. This decision ultimately means other companies will be forced to match wages if they want to be able to compete for top talent.
- Automation Will Continue to Eliminate, Create Jobs
With the rise of automation, whole classes of jobs will be eliminated, not just those that fall in the blue-collar category. Law firms, for example, will begin to use machine-learning algorithms to scour the internet for data and information, decreasing the need for paralegals. In the medical field, similar changes are afoot, as wearable technologies such as virtual reality displays become more commonplace, further diminishing the need for supplemental medical care staff. These technologies will also create new opportunities. While many focus on the jobs that will be created that build new technologies, the bigger opportunity will be for people that can work alongside the new technologies to create new and different-in-kind products.
- Private Companies Will Need to Address Internal Drug Policies
As more states look to decriminalize drugs like marijuana, companies will have to address marijuana usage in the workplace and will be forced to make a decision about their own internal drug policies. This is already being put to the test as California legalized recreational marijuana usage last month. Since many organizations have employees or offices in California, and — given the complexity that implementing state-specific policies can bring to national and global companies — leaders must now determine how to address this issue.
Marijuana usage is not the only drug-related policy that workplaces must consider. With companies striving for objectivity in the hiring process, they will need to think about how this jives with individuals using pharmaceutical drugs to treat legitimate issues such as ADD and ADHD. At the moment, most organizations are unprepared to decide if it is fair for a job candidate to be using prescription medication to treat ADD or ADHD during an assessment test.
- Private Companies Will Evolve Their Viewpoint on Diversity
A greater willingness in society to talk about those with intellectual disabilities will lead more companies to include this group of people in their diversity initiatives. While most diversity programs have historically focused on women and underrepresented ethnic groups, leaders are starting to realize that this segment has largely been ignored in most of those initiatives. As more progressive organizations start to include people with intellectual disabilities in their 2017 diversity initiatives, competitors will feel pressured to do the same.
- Technology That Tracks Employees
More companies are adopting technology that can track everything from employees’ email usage to when they arrive at work. Rather than having this data sit in the background, leaders at progressive companies are leveraging this information for decision-making purposes. For instance, data on when an employee arrives at work and leaves for the day, or how often they are checking and responding to email, can help leaders understand who is at risk of burning out. This in turn, can enable companies to ensure that they have a productive and healthy workforce.
While some organizations are concerned about how employees will react to collection and use of this data, it’s important to remember that employees are already experiencing this as consumers. Google and Facebook, for example, collect data around users’ behavior to push relevant ads their way. As long as companies are using the data they collect for good, employees will likely become as comfortable with the use of their data professionally as they are personally.
Brian Kropp is a human resources practice leader at information services and technology firm CEB.
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