Crystal Clear?

I always enjoy reading Jena McGregor’s columns in the Washington Post. She writes about leadership, corporate management and governance and workplace trends.  She started 2019 with predictions about what to expect in the coming months.  No surprise, issues regarding workplace harassment and misconduct, diversity, workplace flexibility and gender equity will continue to gain attention. Her column also talked about less obvious challenges that leaders can expect to face. But unlike The Wizard of Oz, she doesn’t gaze into a crystal ball. The trends and predictions she writes about are well researched.  Here are her five predictions for 2019:

  1. Family leave. She was talking about a benefit of paid leave beyond maternity or paternity leave – paid leave to care for one’s parents, for example. I was surprised by her statement that “while the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks to care for an ailing family member, many employees don’t know about it…” Be sure your practices are compliant with the regulations which require written guidance to employees about their rights under the law.
  2. A wage gap between current and new workers. Whenever the labor market is tight, as it is now, there’s the tendency to pay more to recruit new talent causing disparities to grow between new hires and currently joining the organization. This can affect turnover – “I can get more money if I join a new company – and morale issues.
  3. Concerns of privacy of personal data.  Expect employees to have raised expectations as threats to privacy of consumer data becomes more heightened. Employers have access to a significant amount of their employee’s data such as social security numbers and bank account information from direct deposits.
  4. Changes in office design. Open design has been the rage, but employees’ complaints about noise and lack of concentration is leading to design changes – things like small conference rooms, collaboration areas and barriers around desks.  One of the more interesting concepts she mentions is phone booths or privacy pods for people to have private conversations without taking up an entire meeting room.
  5. Email is on the decline. In the area of technology, messaging is becoming the preferred method of internal communications. Texts or other alerts could divert users from traditional emails. 

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