Workplace Trends 2019

So, here we are approaching the end of another year. Time seems to move faster every year. Long-time readers of my blog will know that from time to time I give forecasts of trends and developments I expect to see in the world of work during the year ahead. So, for my last missive for this year, here are nine.

  1. Workplaces will become increasingly toxic: Recent years have seen a growing body of research on destructive, abusive or toxic employees. Some research draws attention to the traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism otherwise referred to as the ‘Dark Triad’. This year, we saw data published on the negative impact of toxic workplaces in relation to patient outcomes. This backs us our primary research on the health sector which you can see here.

  2. Feelings of chronic embitterment will increase: Professor Tom Sensky at Imperial College has been leading the research on this new area which is soon to be added to the list of classifications of mental health conditions. Common features include a sense of personal injustice, a strong sense of entitlement, rumination, bad dreams or nightmares, depression and often misinterpreted as a personality disorder. 

  3. The dream of work-life balance will continue to be just that – a dream: Despite much attention being given to the achievement of work-life balance many people indicate that it is simply impossible to achieve. For some it is the sense of peer pressure that makes it out of reach. For others the need to constantly do more with less pushes the dream just a little further.

  4. We will experience increasing levels of automation: In my first book which was published in 2009, I wrote about the shift of robots replacing humans. This pace of automation has speeded up. Some have first-hand experience of the tension this creates. I think of those with the misfortune of commuting on South West trains in particular. I see more industrial action has been scheduled for the end of this month. Another impact of automation is that it creates a division of the workforce as some are unable to take up non-manual job opportunities based on skill and education levels. We have seen this with devastating effect in areas such as Hartlepool, Clacton-on-Sea and Blackpool. New technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way work gets done all over the world. The automation trend is especially challenging for women because they tend to be employed in more routine tasks than men across all sectors and occupations, making them more prone to automation. IMF research  estimates that 26 million women’s jobs in 30 countries are at high risk of being displaced by technology in the next 20 years.

  5. The workforce will shift towards part time and freelance workers: Increasing numbers of workers are making a choice to work part time (sometimes with numerous jobs) or go self-employed and attempt to take more control of one’s life. On this second area, the gig economy is alive and kicking. Most notable examples include Deliveroo and Uber. My sense is that whilst this has been most prevalent with more junior people up until this point, we will begin to see more senior colleagues making this choice.

  6. A need for continuous learning and development will become even more important: The deepening of the knowledge economy is making this even more vital. In order to stay relevant, one has to make sure that they have skills that employers want and need. A challenging question is whose responsibility is this – yours or your employers? I say it is yours and will no doubt receive a number of direct messages with a different view about this. Let’s discuss!

  7. There will be more shortages in certain job roles: The UK is already struggling to find talent for certain job roles such as Radiology, Emergency Consultants, Audiologists, Chefs and Construction workers. Brexit has the potential to make things worse or more at least complicated. In order to find talent, there will be an increasing need to scour Europe and other parts of the world to fill gaps on a long-term basis. Some strategic thinking needs to begin equipping people with skills that we will need for the future and incentivising or motivating people to consider going in to these sorts of areas.

  8. Increasing the numbers of female execs on boards will get worse before it gets better: The FTSE 100 has remained stagnant over the last couple of years and the FTSE 250 has gone backwards. There are now just 30 women in full-time executive roles at FTSE 250 firms – down 38 from last year amounting to 6.4% of the total. In the FTSE 100 there are seven female CEOs and ten CFOs. The picture is more positive for Non-Exec roles. There is a blockage but despite the private sector struggling the NHS is motoring ahead with a healthy 43% of females in board positions and a 42% of CEOs being female. 

  9. The ‘Me Too Campaign’ will shift to another level: The New Yorker wrote an article last year about Les Moonves, CEO of CBS. Didn’t see it? Click here to take a look. Six women accused the 68-year old of harassment.  Following an internal review, he will forfeit a £95m severance package as a result. Incidentally, Deloitte has dismissed 20 partners following harassment claims and KPMG has dismissed seven. This is not going away.

My best wishes to you and your family for Christmas.

Helen Robinson