12 Key Trends Impacting Your Workplace Culture

Suzanne V. Benoit




Companies and nonprofits are attending to workplace culture in greater numbers than ever.  Inspiring stories from companies like Zappos have made their way around social media circles. Further, unless you've been under a rock you know that younger workers have less tolerance for workplace shenanigans by bullies and disagreeable coworkers that others have put up with for years.  If we could all start from the same point, employees would have a wonderful choice of working in companies where respect and quality govern the culture. Unfortunately, the business climate is bobbing and weaving. Things will get worse for you if you do nothing. If you're an HR professional and having a hard time convincing senior management to pay attention, here are some ideas about positive culture-busting trends.

12 Key Trends

1. Continued, rapid business change – if you don’t continuously look for better ways to do things you're losing ground.

2. Business mistakes are publicized instantly – think Netflix, News of the World and other business mistakes. Social media can be brutal for your public relations.

3. Increasing worker stress – financial uncertainty, care-giving, lean staff and tougher goals are weighing on employee minds. More studies are showing a direct link between workplace stress and physical illness.

4. Emphasis on efficiency and productivity – you will have to do more with less.  Employee absenteeism and presenteeism (physically at work but mentally elsewhere) are working against your efforts to keep costs down.

5. Business regulation – there is some recognition that over-regulation can be anti-business but the Healthy Workplace Bill is coming.  It's new legislation which business will fight. It started because companies ignored brutal, ongoing employee targeting that had a direct negative effect on employee mental health.

6. Decline in civility, everywhere – sorry to say this but arguing, short tempers and narcissism are on the rise – likely in your workplace.  Positive culture articulation is an essential counter-point.

7. Increased employee litigation – this is just a fact of doing business. If you lose touch with disgruntled employees or you aren't listening trouble will find you. What’s more, workplace bullying websites abound – your employees have options for free advice of what to do and how to obtain legal advice.

8. A third of employees are ready to move when economy improves – just because your employees are afraid to move now doesn't mean they aren’t thinking about it.

9. Increasing cultural diversity – inclusion requires preparing the ground. Employees unencumbered by things like respect and company no-tolerance stance on slurs, etc., can be brutal to coworkers who are different. Sexual orientation discrimination claims are on the rise.

10. Employees no longer work in the same office – homes, virtual space, remote locations create challenges for creating a united workplace culture.

11. Multiple generations working together – you're adding generations X, Y, and Z to established workers.  Do you pay attention to culture clash?

12. Increasing disparity between high and low employees’ disposable income – your lower-income employees are borrowing, taking money from 401(k)s, and even if they've had raises, medical costs and other prices have eroded disposable income.

Think about some of the worst human issues at your workplace and begin providing support to employees that will help them engage with you in the healthy achievement of company goals.

Ms. Benoit, LCSW, SPHR, is an independent consultant, speaker and author working on improving workplace culture and showing employers how to begin one step at a time. She can be reached at sbenoit@benoitconsulting.com. Her blog is at www.benoitcentral.com