3 key trends
Research indicates there are 3 key trends businesses need to be aware of for this year:
• The environment – there is no doubt that customers are becoming more environmentally aware
• Wellbeing and mental health – people will want to work for firms that take care of their employees in terms of their physical and mental health
• Technology – it is a key enabler in allowing us to work flexibly, remotely and more effectively.
Climate change is now extremely high up the political agenda, with the next UN summit to be held in the UK.
Climate change advocates such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are gaining more traction and, as a result, people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and are making buying decisions based on the environmental credentials of businesses.
Following this, more businesses are responding by focusing on their environmental and sustainability policies. Many firms are adapting their CSR activities to include environmental projects in order to help drive the green agenda in local communities and this trend is likely to continue.
It is worthwhile spending time considering how your organisation is addressing environmental issues and whether you can be doing more and shouting about it so that your customers and your people are aware of it.
Wellbeing and mental health
Research shows that younger workers are putting greater emphasis on their physical wellbeing and mental health. Consequently, employers will need to adapt in order to attract the next generation of talented employees. Flexible working and wellness programmes are high on the list of priorities for Millennials and Generation Z employees, in some cases prioritised above salary levels. The businesses that really embrace these new trends will attract the best people, which is vital to future success.
Flexible working, working from home, working part time or job-sharing are all relatively recent developments in the modern workplace but are now being expected as the norm by younger workers. There has even been a recent trend of employers offering duvet days and hangover days where employees can take time off, with no notice, when they do not feel up to doing a day’s work.
This can be helpful for employees who are stressed due to heavy workloads and need a break to recharge their batteries.
Whilst there are positives from these types of policies, you need to be careful not to alienate some groups of employees or encourage poor behaviour and attitudes, so it is worth taking advice before implementing such policies. However, providing more flexible working practices for employees is here to stay and organisations ignore this at their peril.
On the technology side of things, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are continuing to advance extremely quickly, consequently, businesses now have access to increasingly powerful tools that can be used to create new customer experiences. By way of example, the music-streaming service Spotify makes great use of AI to tailor the listening experiences of every user by creating customised play-lists.
In the accounting world, invoices can be scanned into the accounting system and information read, input and posted automatically with limited human intervention.
The ongoing development of machine learning and AI will create opportunities to provide better customer experiences and allow organisations to work more efficiently. It is worthwhile keeping an eye on developments in these areas and considering if these technologies will be good for your business – no doubt your competitors will be.