Work gets personal: HR predictions for 2019

With culture back on the boardroom table with the updated Corporate Governance Code, employee experience platform Perkbox suggests likely issues HR will guide executives on in the year ahead.

Image of blank slate, 2019 on an iPad, a coffee cup and pot plant representing growth
The employee experience platform predicts the battle against presenteeism at work will become a key issue in the 2019 workplace as companies seek to establish a culture of psychological safety and social responsibility in an age of agile working practices.Perkbox also believes workplaces will wake up to the importance of being more environmentally friendly. Following high-profile bids by some food outlets to become plastic-free and the rise of the reusable coffee cup and water bottle – among 2018’s key consumer retail trends – the platform predicts employers will follow suite and encourage bring your own water bottles to work policies. 

The presenteeism problem

CIPD research finds 86% of employees have observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months. Along with absenteeism, this costs the UK economy an average of £77bn each year.With reduced productivity and spreading illness to others being some of the most obvious effects, an effort to change attitudes will be required this 2019 to tackle this costly issue, says Perkbox. Policies such as flexible working and unlimited holiday aiming to improve work-life balance are some of the measure companies are adopting to address this issue.Annual mental health awareness days and ongoing campaigns are also boosting public awareness of this important issue, pushing employers to mirror wider public understanding through policies. Perkbox believes “investing heavily in mental health initiatives such as EAPs, mental health first aiders, counselling and online GPs for staff will be a priority in 2019, as will be the need to set example to employees, encouraging them to seek help when needed.”
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Reducing presenteeism and safeguarding employee mental health is also likely to be pertinent for employers of globally mobile employees, international assignees and frequent business travellers given the challenge of access to external support, time and cultural differences. These are in addition to the personal pressures assignees can often face, such as those relating to family concerns during international moves. 

The imposter syndrome

Perkbox further predicts a push to establish a culture of psychological safety, with greater attention likely therefore being paid to employee’s self-esteem, emotional intelligence and personal development. Citing statistics suggesting experience of the imposter syndrome increasing year on year, 2019’s workplace will need to embrace a culture of acceptance of mistakes if these statistics are to be lowered.As agile working, and sprint, scrum and squad goals gain ground, embracing the “fail fast and succeed quick” ethos could be putting the imposter syndrome, mental health and personal feelings of worth in the spotlight, making life uncomfortable for 62% of UK employees in 2018.“Tackling the epidemic that is imposter syndrome will also be a big HR trend in 2019 as employers realise that psychological safety can become a huge driver for growth,” says Perkbox. “It’s an issue worth its weight. Perhaps 2019 will see a movement similar to #MeToo as it gains public awareness and an enforcement.”Could 2019 therefore also be the year that a coaching culture becomes more widely established in the workplaces given its focus on enabling people to give their best and unlock potential to maximise their performance?

The rise of the eco-workplace

Having seen the war on plastic hotting up significantly this last year, Perkbox predicts the rise of eco-workplaces turning mainstream in 2019. “We saw companies such as Wetherspoons and All Bar One banning plastic straws in 2018, while supermarkets like Iceland pledged to be plastic free by 2023. “We anticipate ‘green thinking’ playing a key part in company culture. Expect initiatives such as a ‘Bring Your Own Reusable Bottle (BYORB)’, green electricity and paperless offices becoming the new norm.”Commenting, Chieu Cao, CMO and co-founder of Perkbox, says: ‘It’s been great to see workplace culture finally given the attention it deserves over the past year. However, acting is as important as speaking.“We must act upon our promises this 2019 and look after our employees like we have promised. “Only then will we be entitled to ask them to look after our business as if it were theirs in return.”Head to our HR section for more news and insight.  
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