How the Workplace Will Change in 2014

new year workplace

What does the future hold in store for your small business’s workplace? The Herman Group just released its 2014 Workplace Forecast, which seeks to help shed some light on the answer. Below are new year workplace trends I think will matter to small business owners and what you can do to take advantage of them.

New Year Workplace Changes in 2014

1. As the economy improves, companies of all sizes will be hiring. But it won’t be easy due to an expanding workforce shortage. Companies have been reluctant to spend on training and development, leading to severe shortages of trained workers in many fields.

What can you do? The reality is, you may need to provide training to bring new employees up to speed. Tap into free or low-cost training offered by resources in your area, or have current employees cross-train new workers.

2. Communities will join forces to end worker shortages. Local governments and economic development departments are recognizing the risk that a shortage of qualified workers brings to the local economy, so they’re partnering with businesses and schools to help train tomorrow’s employees today.

What can you do? Get involved with local schools, adult education facilities, colleges and universities to make connections with potential employees and to put your “two cents” in as to what type of training is needed.

3. Unemployment rates will stay relatively high. Unfortunately, that won’t help solve the talent shortage. Many of the long-term unemployed lack desirable work experience or life skills, or their skills have atrophied from being out of the workforce so long.

What can you do? Unemployment can mean opportunity for small business owners to hire experienced, eager, often older workers who aren’t interested in career paths. Look for workers who have made an effort to learn new things and keep their skills fresh. Also, be open to unemployed workers who are seeking to transition to a new industry because their prior careers are now obsolete.

4. Be prepared for disaster—both natural and otherwise. The increasing frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions means businesses of all sizes need to be prepared for disaster. Don’t just consider how a disaster or extreme weather could affect you, but also how it might impact customers and suppliers. For instance, Southern California, where I live, is enjoying gorgeous, sunny weather right now, while most of the nation is enduring sub-freezing temperatures, which has hampered shipments from that part of the country.

What can you do? Make a plan not only for dealing with disaster in your region, but also for operating if you’re cut off from your regular suppliers or vendors. Also, consider man-made disaster in the form of workplace violence. With an increasing incidence of and attention to workplace shootings, it’s important to take employee complaints seriously. Develop a plan for dealing proactively with conflicts and communicate a plan to deal with the worst-case scenario.

5. Layoffs aren’t over. Even as the economy improves, companies of all sizes will continue re-engineering, eliminating some positions and either automating those jobs or hiring fewer, but more highly skilled workers to fill new, more complex roles.

What can you do? If you don’t want to lay off staff, call on your employees to help you find new ways to do things better, faster and more cost-effectively. They may have great ideas for ways you can do more, make more profit and keep all your people.

6. Retention still matters. Employees will be more confident about job-hopping as the economy continues to strengthen. As the Affordable Care Act shakes out, people who held onto jobs just to keep their health insurance will finally be able to quit.

What can you do? If you haven’t worried about keeping your employees engaged and happy, you’d better start now. Find out where your employees envision being in one or five years and plan a program to get them where they want to be.

Change Conept Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.