August 29, 2019

Three ways the American workplace has changed in the past decade

POST WRITTEN BY
Alexa Moritz, Marketing Manager

As Marketing Manager, Alexa handles the strategy and execution of marketing initiatives for ThirtyThree and works to raise awareness of the importance of employer branding within the North American market. This includes managing marketing and public relations activities, external communications, and planning industry events.

Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more.


Each year, on Labor Day weekend, Americans say farewell to summer and retire their white clothing. The occasion is marked with a beloved long weekend, typically involving barbeques, beach days, and a whole lot of red, white, and blue. Yet, we don’t often consider the reason why workplaces across the country close their doors on this day. The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882 to honor the contributions made by workers in the United States. Since then, the state of the American workplace has transformed considerably and continues to evolve.

In the past decade alone, advancements in technology and changes in the economic landscape have given organizations both new opportunities to engage with their people and new challenges to consider. With Labor Day around the corner, here’s a look at some of these shifts.

Retention has become more difficult

People are increasingly more likely to leave their current company and explore new roles. For one, the flexibility offered by the growing gig economy presents new alternatives to employees. In the U.S., slightly more than 1 out of 4 workers were gig workers in 2016. That number continues to grow as people seek more independence and convenient work hours. Additionally, new generations entering the workforce crave the opportunity to work in different roles and have new experiences. With an influx of messaging from brands, both digitally and in-person, promising exciting, new endeavors, it’s no surprise that nearly half (45 percent) of today's employers expect recent graduates to leave an organization within 2 years or less.

While some attrition can be healthy, employers must invest in strategies to engage and retain their top performers. This starts with the development of an employer value proposition (EVP), which defines the reasons why people should want to work for you, as well as what is expected from them in return. When this promise is communicated to internal audiences in a clear and compelling way, employees will feel connected to the vision of the business and understand the role they play in achieving it, ensuring that the right people stay and become advocates of the organization.

Social media use is encouraged at work

If we think back ten years ago, when social media was fairly new and widely used for personal networking, many organizations considered it a distraction and banned their employees from accessing it during work hours. However, in today’s always-on, always-connected world, most brands now understand that social is a powerful tool to reach top talent – 59% of job seekers use it to research the culture of the organizations they’re interested in. And, who better to give candidates an authentic glimpse into the reality of the work environment than the current workforce?

As user generated content becomes increasingly valuable, businesses are giving their employees (and not just those with social media in their job descriptions) the green light to get social at work. However, it’s important to have a strategy in place to achieve the intended outcome. This might mean inviting a select group of employees to serve as brand ambassadors and submit interesting social content or holding an organization-wide competition that allows the winning employee to temporarily take over the brand’s social channels. Providing coaching and clear guidelines that outline expectations will empower people to create winning content that resonates with external audiences.

Everyone is after technology talent

Advancements in technology have changed customer expectations. We want things faster – take Amazon Prime’s 2-day delivery promise or Netflix’s instant streaming service. We seek out more efficient experiences, such as restaurant delivery with the click of a button via Seamless or Uber’s instant ridesharing service. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today every business, no matter the sector, must be enabled by technology to thrive. This means the foundation of an organization’s future success lies in hiring, engaging, and retaining top tech talent who are among the most sought-after, skilled workers in the world.

It’s no surprise that some of the most desirable workplaces are tech giants with high employer brand recognition, including Google, Facebook, and Apple. With everyone vying for the same talent pools, a compelling story is required to gain attention in a crowded marketplace. By defining what’s in it for technology candidates to join the business and communicating that message in a clear and compelling way, the right candidates can self-select themselves into the organization and understand the role they play in driving it forward.

As the world changes, quickly and often in unexpected ways, so does the workplace. What’s true or important today will most likely be different tomorrow; as such, employers must be nimble and refine their strategies to align with the latest insights and emerging trends to set themselves up for success, both now and in the future.

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