Trends affecting today’s workplace — such as automation, boomerang employees and contract workers — illustrate how companies are rethinking their work environments for greater connectivity, improved productivity and higher employee satisfaction.
For years, experts have predicted automation will dramatically change work processes, and now companies and employees are experiencing this trend firsthand. Many employees are beginning to see the day-to-day nature of their jobs shift as technology is applied to routine tasks and processes.
As companies across the spectrum of industries apply automation to speed rote processes and improve efficiencies, workers have more time for higher level tasks that require creativity, judgment and flexibility. Many companies recognize their workers will need to adjust to automation and are incorporating training programs to help them stay ahead of technology improvements and build complementary higher level skills to manage automation.
Today’s tight job market finds more companies rehiring former employees. Having previously left to work elsewhere, these “boomerang” employees return with new experiences, business connections and perspectives. Because they retain knowledge of the company’s culture and work processes, companies find them easier and less expensive to orient and acclimate. Many boomerang employees return with renewed loyalty and higher engagement, leading to improved retention.
One challenge for boomerang employees is the need to adjust to advances in corporate technology that occurred while they were gone. Others may be annoyed because the company hasn’t advanced its technology as quickly as their other workplaces. They can serve as champions for innovation, helping their companies to recognize the need for technology renewal and improvements.
The demand for contract workers continues to be strong in today’s job market. More than half of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder and Harris Poll indicated they intended to hire temporary and contract workers this year. Many of those temporary workers will transition to become permanent employees.
Contract workers can present particular challenges related to connectivity and technology support. They may not have access to secure company networks or may lack compatible software or devices. Companies hiring contractors should consult with their IT departments prior to hiring to ensure contractors can access the programs and systems they need to effectively do their jobs.
As companies introduce new technology into the workplace, they must consider how all employees will be affected and respond with training and connectivity solutions that can ease its adoption.
 “Looking Ahead: 5 Job Trends to Watch in 2017,” by Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor, December 2016. Press release and link to research report available at: https://www.glassdoor.com/press/jobs-trends-watch-2017-glassdoor-chief-economist/
 “LinkedIn VP explains why ‘boomerang employees’ are becoming the new normal,” by Brendan Browne, Business Insider, Oct. 11, 2016. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/linkedin-vp-explains-why-boomerang-employees-are-becoming-the-new-normal-2016-10
 “5 American Hiring Trends to Watch in 2017,” The Undercover Recruiter blog, 2016. Available at: http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/hiring-trends-watch/
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