What the workplace may look like in 2016


An evaluation of how different aspects of the workplace can undergo changes and impact the place of work.

At the fag end of 2015, people are wondering how human resources could change in the coming year, especially when the new generation and advanced technologies have to be accommodated at the workplace.

Here is an evaluation of how different aspects of the workplace can undergo a change and their resulting impact on the workplace.

Boomerangs and job-hoppers aren’t untouchables

If organisations have to stay ahead in the talent race, they will have to bring in a radical change in their hiring strategy. According to a survey last year, close to 50 per cent of the companies had a policy in place or were opposed to hiring boomerang even if the employees had left on a good note. On the contrary, 46 percent of the millennials are willing to consider returning to their former employers, compared to 33 percent of Gen X and 29 per cent of Baby Boomers. 

This kind of thinking has to go. Companies need to realise that if employees have spent a few years with the competitors, it is likely that they would have acquired new skills and business knowledge. Getting them back on board can turn out to be quite beneficial.

Similarly, job-hoppers aren’t untouchables anymore. Yesterday’s ‘twenty years’ is now ‘two years’. Yes, that is the average time employees stay with an organisation these days. The sooner companies acknowledge this fact, the better for them. Rehiring and recycling of talent is now inevitable.

In short, in a competitive talent market, companies will need to get creative with their recruiting strategy, and consider the overlooked segments of workers.

In addition, organisations will have to understand and evaluate how their talent compares to ‘best-in class peers’, and also develop internal talent accordingly in order to retain them for a longer period.

Unravel data and demystify technology

Everyone would agree that technology and data are the two most important aspects of HR in the next few years. Unfortunately, despite the enormous promise of increased data availability, analysis from HR remains among the least trusted by business leaders across all corporate functions.

According to a survey by CEB, only five per cent of organisations worldwide feel they are effective at tracking and using talent analytics.

The inability to declassify the data will see companies opt for specialised services. Also, more of HR analytics companies will mushroom in the market. This will help organisations unravel the huge data collected and use it to their advantage. This data will help identify high-potential candidates, and facilitate predictive analytics and performance management.

Ironically, organisations tend to channel budget to sales, marketing and product development, but prefer ignoring technological innovation in HR. This is a huge mistake, because ‘quality talent fuels growth’. Companies will have to keep aside a separate budget for the same.

Transparency will be the demand of the future

As younger generations join the workforce in increasing numbers, the first batch of Gen Z (those born between 1994 and 2010) is expected to start working in 2016. Therefore, the organisations will have to be more transparent in their approach. Transparency will be the demand of the millennials and Generation Z.

According to the survey by Randstad in 2014, 52 per cent of Gen Z and Gen Y state that honesty is the most important quality of a good leader.

Remember, the transparency is not applicable for HR alone. The newer generations demand transparency in salary, technology and management practices.

Employers and employees need to be flexible

Both the employers and employees need to change their mindset. Companies need to introduce, promote and encourage flexibility.

The new technology tools and wearable devices, have allowed flexible timings and workplace. 2014-15 saw companies turning flexible and extending support in terms of parental leaves and benefits. Organisations in 2016, will now have to be flexible in other aspects as well.

It has been observed that though many companies offer flexible workplace benefits, employees are reluctant to take up the same for the fear of seeming less committed to their career. Organisations, thus, need to educate their employees.

Similarly, companies also have to change the mindset that working in silos affects productivity. Accountability is no longer linked to strict monitoring and rigid office policies. In fact, monitoring is now even better during telecommuting with new tools and also allows managers to stay connected with the team 24×7.

A better work–life balance and flexible work environment will help organisations retain talent for a longer period.

Job titles should be streamlined to remove ambiguity

This is one area where organisations will have to tread carefully.

Reducing the number of job titles can deliver many of the results organisations seek. However, organisations should also consider the risks.

First, employees may perceive the reduction of the number of job titles as minimisation of promotional opportunities because organisational structures flatten. And if simplified too much, job titles can become generic and ambiguous, making it difficult for employees and external partners to identify and understand the roles and responsibilities of their peers.


Marketing should attract consumers and talent

Marketing in organisations should no longer be the CMO’s role alone. HR and marketing need to work together to create a cohesive yet distinct brand message that can attract and retain talent. Organisations need to realise that there is a difference between a company’s employer brand and consumer image.

Do share with us if you have any further thoughts on the emerging trends in the workplace of 2016.


  1. Employers and employees need to be flexible:
    Pertaining to this point, I disagree to some extent. Flexibility in the dress code has currently brought down the professional appearance of an individual in the IT Sector, at least in the working level. The Gen Z as you call it walk in with jeans and T shirt to the work place.
    Flexibility in the office timings has resulted in lesser team time, as there would be at least one or 2 individuals in a team who due to flexi time would like to finish up some urgent personal work before reaching office and some may leave early. So if a TL needs to get his team together he/she has to plan in advance, keep his team posted in advance….etc. No team meetings can happen within a short time.
    Flexibility in the addressing of seniors and management staff. There is no difference in hierarchy or the way you address a senior management staff other his first name. Formally unless you know the individual very well, you don’t use the first name. While this is not of concern, sometimes doesn’t sound well.

    Flexibility to a certain extent, in some matters will increase the productivity and the togetherness of the individuals. This is like ‘the little pressure’ that is required for excelling/ succeeding.

    However old some thoughts are, they still are valid!!
    Just bringing out a few points that popped up

  2. more pertinent should be the fact related to the % of Gen Z born in 1994-96, that would be employed. India’s main problem now is to have the 60 million existing unskilled unemployed labor force converted into a skilled force.
    Each year 13 million are adding to this unskilled but employable category. Things are not all that “honky-dory’ as our Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers may imagine; even as the inimitable 3 Khans continue to peddle their wares over the Media to them in euphoria!

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