With unemployment at its lowest in decades, technology becoming increasingly integrated in business operations and younger generations entering the workforce at a faster rate, the U.S. job landscape is expected to change significantly in 2019. Employers must be ready to face these trends in the coming year in order to attract and retain employees, who are seeking increased flexibility, more involvement with their organizations and diversification of benefits.
These six entrepreneurs share their top predictions for how the workforce will evolve in 2019 and what business owners should do now to adapt and be prepared for these changes.
As unemployment continues to drop, it will become increasingly difficult to find the right talent in 2019. "Finding talented employees has never been easy. With the U.S. approaching full employment, the job market is growing ever tighter," shares FE International Founder Thomas Smale.
Scarcity is a problem for companies big and small, according to Smale. And if talented employees don't come your way, it is up to you to go to them. "Partly in response to this, we have opened additional offices in the U.S. and continue to expand our remote workforce," he explains.
Younger Employees in the Office
The high rate of employment allows younger generations to enter the workforce at a faster rate than usual, according to entrepreneur, investor and speaker Codie Sanchez. "With a more stable economy comes a hiring boom. The younger generations finally have their chance, but their expectations and work styles may clash with their older colleagues'," she warns.
An effective approach to mitigate this clash is to act as a mentor to younger employees. Sanchez says: "When I approach the boss-staff relationship with a younger employee from a mentorship stance, it instantly opens communication and we arrive at mutual understandings of expectations and deliverables."
"The younger generation is looking for better balance between their work and personal lives. They're working longer and harder than their older colleagues for less," underlines Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP.
Younger employees need better benefits to be rewarded, motivated and engaged, and employers need to be ready to offer that. "We're seeing more companies offer unlimited vacation days, healthcare, paid time off and retirement options that help to alleviate the burden of lower salaries," Yonatan says. "We treat better benefits as an unavoidable business expense."
Remote Work as a Popular Perk
One of the main benefits a growing number of employees look for is the ability to work remotely or have greater flexibility in terms of work hours. "Working from home is a perk that I expect more employees to ask for in 2019," predicts Amine Rahal, founder and CEO of IronMonk.
"As a business owner, you really need to loosen the grips on employees whose physical presence is not required to conduct their work," he says. "We have noticed increased performance and motivation from staff members since we implemented our remote work policy five years ago, and we plan to keep this policy in 2019."
Increased Employee Involvement
"Despite the growing gig economy, I find our employees are actually looking to become more involved within the organization and want a growth plan," reveals Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged.
Feeling valued and assisted in reaching their full potential gives employees a sense of involvement with the organization and, consequently, higher engagement, Gonzalez believes. "I actively make sure that each person's individual growth plan aligns with our company's long-term strategy, and will personally mentor my staff to help them meet their goals," she says.
Expanding Role of AI and Automation
The increasing role of technology in the workplace will come with added automation and artificial intelligence capabilities. According to eMerchantBroker Co-Founder Blair Thomas: "Instead of training workers with new skills, more businesses will likely use artificial intelligence."
Thomas believes that businesses will start using more robots to automate tasks, especially in sectors such as hospitality, retail and agriculture where there are skill gaps at the moment. "To deal with these types of changes, all businesses, including ours, need to look at the best ways to use artificial intelligence," he concludes.