Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workplace Trends from 2004…Still Trending

By Shelley A. Gable

I cleaned my bookshelf the other day, which included moving out stacks of old magazines. One dusty cover that caught my eye was the January 2004 issue of Training + Development Magazine from ASTD, with this headline: 8 Trends You Need to Know NOW.

I immediately thought, “I wonder if those trends are still relevant...”

So I took a break from my periodical purge party to skim through the article by Karen Colteryahn and Patty Davis. Here’s a peek at the eight trends from 2004...

--1-- Drastic times, drastic measures. Organizations are increasingly finding themselves with limited resources, prompting them to focus even more on improving efficiency and quality.

--2-- Blurred lines – life or work? Organizational structures are becoming flatter and more people are working at home.

--3-- Small world and shrinking. Globalization is making our workforces increasingly interconnected, with a rise in offshoring many business functions.

--4-- New faces, new expectations. Diversity is increasing in the workforce, especially when it comes to ethnic and generational diversity.

--5-- Work be nimble, work be quick. The rate of change in organizations is accelerating, businesses are reducing cycle times on their processes, and an adaptable workforce is needed.

--6-- Security alert! Concerns about national security prompt people to desire more security in their personal lives and in the workplace. Workers want safer work environments.

--7-- Life and work in the e-lane. Technology is advancing, which affects where and how work is done, as well as “how, when, and where learning occurs.”

--8-- A higher ethical bar. Employees are focusing more on corporate responsibility and scrutinizing the integrity of management and leadership teams.

This article could’ve been published today, and most of the comments would have seemed just as applicable.

So what does this mean for those of us in the field of training and performance improvement?

Even the advice for practitioners still rings true. Let’s take a look...

Know the business, grow the business. The article emphasizes the need for us to develop business acumen and follow business trends, so that we can ensure learning strategy aligns with organizational strategy. I still see plenty of articles in print and online publications about this, so I guess it’s safe to say that this is still a relevant need...and perhaps something many of us could stand to improve upon.

Show them the value. This portion of the article spoke to the need to evaluate the effectiveness of training, so we can show how it contributes to organizational results and produces a return on investment. Once again, something we still ought to do...and could generally try to do better.

The high road starts here. This section suggests that we’re in a unique position to help organizations develop a culture of integrity that helps build employee trust. With so many organizations including integrity among their strategic values, training that aligns with organizational initiatives all the way to the top really can help employees see how day-to-day tasks further this priority.

Be tech savvy, or be sorry. Oh yeah, this is still true. The article focuses on blended learning, primarily in terms of finding the optimal balance of web-based training and classroom instruction. I think it’s safe to say that many organizations are still figuring out how to find that balance, while also exploring how social media, mLearning, and more can fit into the equation.

Weaving a world-wise web. This section suggests developing skills related to intercultural communication and technologies that support remote workforces for the sake of creating training for globally dispersed workforces. Yet another line of advice that’s just as relevant today as it was then.

Talent purveyor: scout, agent, coach, champion. The message here is the need for us to be able to attract and retain talent in our organizations by addressing hiring needs, hiring strategies, and workforce development. Seems like this has always been – and probably always will be – among the central focuses of our field.

So overall...

It seems like the workplace trends and advice for practioners from ASTD’s 2004 article still apply. What’s your take? Do you see any new trends that aren’t addressed at all here? Or do you feel that anything here is outdated?

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