The term, Work Life Balance was blown out of the water as we deconstructed the new world of work in 2013. As I wrote about in my recent feature at Forbes.com, 7 Reasons Stress and Well-Being Made Noise at Work in 2013, among the topics that had the bullhorn were mindfulness, positive psychology, employee wellness and engagement, work life balance and expanding technology 24/7.
These topics have been present in the #WorkLife conversation for some time, but now we’re seeing an evolution of sorts taking place. Mostly because the needs of the workforce and C-Suite have risen to a new critical level as I wrote in the post:
“Work overload, lack of career advancement, stagnant salaries, an increasing skills-gap and the complexity of a hi-tech global marketplace have all arguably played a roll in an underwhelmed and sometimes stressed-out workforce. After all, 65% of workers cite work as a significant source of stress, with one-third of workers chronically stressed (APA 2013).”
It’s not so much reinvention of the workplace culture that we’re in need of, it’s more of an evolution. Concepts like flexible work, workflow, virtual workplaces, the use of technological advances, employee engagement techniques, performance enhancing strategies, career advancement, mentorship and stress management programs – while present – are still finding their institutional sea legs and going through growing pains at many organizations.
Ultimately, an exhausted and distracted workforce won’t thrive as well as the competition, or be in a state of creative flow necessary to innovate, unless a culture fostering a greater sense of overall well-being is created. Here’s what we still need to know:
In an era of great uncertainty how can we better manage…
our work-life merge
our career advancement
our technology portals
our information intake
And how can we enhance…
our work performance
our personal fulfillment
our mental capacity
even our happiness
Upon reviewing the noise makers in 2013 I homed in on the trends that I believe will be the key to thriving, igniting flow and boosting well-being at work in 2014.
- Acknowledging Digital Exuberance: The convergence of hi-technology and explosion of content accessible in real time, delivers distraction at an exponentially increasing pace. We will continue to gather more data on the consequences of digital overload to our workplace performance and our brains. Managing our personal and workplace devices will be crucial to well-being and performance.
- Awakening From the Career Chaos Economy: The economy seemingly begins recovery from the recession, but the workforce is in a state of cognitive dissonance. Weighing career advancement or change with financial stability and potentially jeopardizing long-term security. Do we go for the gold into unchartered territories, or stay in the well-known cubicle?
- Human Capital Zeitgeist Finally Emerges: Globally, with a majority of CEOs agreeing that talent management is the main concern for business, human capital takes center stage even in the boardroom. The well-being and engagement of the workforce become more closely associated with creativity and innovation. Combined, these elements are the greatest drivers of profit and even have the ear of stockholders.
- The New APR Sinks In: Business leaders realize that the attention, performance and resilience of their workforce is the key to engagement. The bottom-line may continue to be the most powerful metric, but management is looking more closely at what grabs employee attention, new ways to measure performance and shows a greater interest in fostering a resilient nimble workforce. Can a 2014 workforce bounce back in real time?
- Brain Science Beckons Attention: Scientific research proves that we can rewire our brains to be more happy and more productive at work. But now we’re learning how we can excel and better use our energy and motivational stress toward performance. Apps, hitting the market at warp speed, can help us improve our memory, reduce our stress and boost performance. The concept of flow, where challenges meet skill level is looked upon more closely in the workings of the brain.
- Mindful Work: Mindfulness Meditation breaks the woo woo barrier. Backed by scientific research, mindfulness is a foundation for better attention, performance and resilience among employees. Mindfulness techniques help managers, for example, be more present in their jobs without thinking about the chaos of the past and fearing the future of the competition in the pipeline of the marketplace..
- Happiness Smiles Its Way Into the Workplace: Positive psychology principles are making more of an appearance in leadership strategies and workplace programs. Positivity post-its run rampant at the water cooler. We’re learning that exalting our strengths instead of lamenting over our weaknesses yields greater workplace gold. Research shows that cultivating emotional intelligence can lead to a greater sense of happiness and positivity which is great for creativity.
Which of these trends do you see out performing the others at work and in the media? Please share your thoughts!
Judy Martin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and stress management consultant who tracks workplace trends as the Founder of WorkLifeNation.com , which was chosen by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Career sites in 2013. She was also named by Dr. Oz’s site Sharecare.com as one of the Top 10 On-Line Influencers on Stress. Judy has contributed to NPR, CBNC Business Radio, Marketplace Report, Daily Muse, Huffington Post. Join her in the conversation on Twitter@JudyMartin8.