2017 has been an amazing year, as we look back on the last 12 months, we see a plethora of activity in the world of business especially with respect to the way business and people are managed. In this article we briefly talk about few of these things that have fundamentally altered the way we run our business and manage our people.

Rise of Women

2017 has brought many aspects of women at work to the fore, from companies offering paid leave during menstrual cycle to the amended maternity benefit act, we have seen many path breaking changes that enable and further improve participation of women in the workplace. With the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition, and Redressal) act in force for more than 4 years, we are witnessing organizations becoming more aware to the benefits of gender diversity in the workplace while also acknowledging the mental stereotypes that one has to overcome to make this work. Increasingly organizations are creating and drafting specific policies to attract and retain women employees. Companies are designing specific initiatives to assist women return to work after a break either in a full or part time work arrangement.

Broadening of Diversity and Inclusion

As values change across the business landscape, diversity and inclusion, often seen as “nice to have” are increasingly becoming a necessity – and for good reason. The business case has never been stronger, as studies show that diverse teams are more likely to foster employee engagement and improve business performance. While in its initial days it primarily meant gender based diversity, increasingly companies are broadening the definition of diversity and including various other “talent pools” traditionally ignored or overlooked. Some of these include the LGBT community or the differently abled individuals. Companies have started to make additional efforts to encourage these diverse voices to join the organization to enable innovation.

The Importance of Culture

In this backdrop of increasing diversity and inclusion culture became the most talked topic in 2017, primarily started by public memoirs of past employees from companies like Uber and Zenefits amongst others. For many companies defining and then upholding a corporate culture became the most important aspect. As Uber’s saga unfolded its founder CEO had to step down and the company had to restate its cultural values and norms. This taught valuable lessons to businesses around the world of importance of setting the right culture. It also highlighted the importance of supporting systems and especially HR processes like reward and recognition and disciplinary actions. It clearly indicated that what is done in these processes speak for itself in terms of what is being punished and rewarded.

 

And the importance of Data security

2017 also highlighted the importance of enterprise data security with multiple breaches of company records being reported. With the world of business in general and HR in particular moving to cloud based Software as Service (SaaS) applications, safety of the data is emerging as a big concern for companies around the world.

The rise of gig economy

The ride sharing app, Uber impacted the world of work in more than 1 way in 2017. While its culture became a hot topic, many organizations sought to “uberize” their workforces and business models too. This meant a rise of the “gig-economy”. Organizations around the world are actively looking to engage motivated individuals not as their full time employees but more as associates or partners who work for specific times during the day on certain tasks. UK governments ruling in October 2017 instructing Uber to ensure that its drivers earn national minimum wage and enjoy benefits like holiday pay as they are not self-employed as claimed by the company, has not really dampened the spirits of organizations pursuing this path. It is expected that as more and more individuals seek independence in what they do and how they do, the gig economy will continue to rise.

The rise of well-being and purpose

Corporate wellness programs are on the rise, thanks to millennials and gen-z employees. As they enter the workforce they want more from their jobs than just competitive compensation, they are looking for well-being. The multi-generational workforce is getting impacted with the digitization of the workplace and the “over whelmed” employee is a reality. With workplace pressures increasing with ever evolving pace of technology changes, more and more organizations are looking to focus on holistic wellness at work. Companies are offering flexible schedules and also investing in health of employees, such programs once implemented have been reported to result in fewer sick days, lower insurance premiums, and more productive employees.

These trends are complex and interrelated. To cope with them, companies need a well thought out strategy than can translate into concrete interventions. Those who do not develop such a strategy may soon find themselves bumping up against nimbler rivals, unable to adapt to the disruption in time. Thus 2017 has really heralded a new way of work and we expect to see its continued and increased importance in the way businesses organize and perform.