‘People science’ and other workplace trends to watch in 2017

A new year may have begun, but enterprises enter 2017 facing an old problem: A shallow talent pool.

Glassdoor’s latest report on job trends reveals that, as of April 2016, there were 5.85 million unfilled jobs in the U.S., the most since 2000. Employers are under tremendous pressure to fill these slots, but the shortage of talent — particularly of people with technology skills — remains challenging.

In the December report, Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain lists what he predicts will be five “game changers” in the employment market for 2017:

HR finally gets serious about analytics. For years, enterprises have embraced data analytics to better understand customers, develop products, measure the success of marketing campaigns and more, yet human resources departments have fallen behind. Chamberlain says 2017 will be the year that HR pros seriously begin to leverage “people science.”

“In many of today’s companies the most productive assets are not machines and buildings but people — and their skills, ideas and know-how,” he writes. “Using data science in HR to make even small improvements in recruiting, hiring, and engagement has the potential for huge benefits to organizations.”

Automation will change not just some jobs, but every job. While assuring that automation is unlikely to result in large-scale job losses (despite lingering fears that robots are coming to replace us), Chamberlain says it is “almost certain” that automation will change everyone’s job in some way.

“The growing reach of mobile devices, cheap data storage, and innovations in machine learning will bring surprising changes to the way we work in coming years,” he says, with 2017 being the year when automation’s impact will be felt across the nation’s workforce.

Those cool benefits may fade away. Dog-friendly offices, free meals, fitness classes — enjoy them while you can, because they may not last, Chamberlain says.

“As the tech industry matures, it’s likely that companies will be re-assessing their packages of benefits and perks,” he writes. That’s because research is showing that not all of the benefits associated with modern tech companies are paying off in terms of higher employee satisfaction. It’s basically an ROI issue.

Moving to close the gender pay gap. Pay transparency and the increasing availability of data on worker compensation will combine in 2017 to force more enterprises to address the inherent unfairness of paying women less for the same work, Chamberlain says.

Reassessing the “gig” economy. Despite “massive growth” in the gig economy, only 16 percent of adult Americans actually are working as freelancers or under short-term contracts, according to a recent Princeton University study. That might be the high-water mark, Chamberlain says.

“Growth in gig work will likely trail off in 2017 and beyond as reality sets in about the actual pros and cons of contract work — both for workers and employers,” he writes.

What do you think of these predictions? What changes do you think (or hope!) 2017 will bring to the workplace?


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