The State of HR: How a Decade Changed the Workplace

A lot has changed in the workplace over the last 10 years. Millennials—whom 10 years ago were barely old enough to work—now make up a vast majority of the workplace. Technology has made communication much easier, but also more burdensome with the ability to “always be on.” And then there’s the Affordable Care Act … but we’ll save that for a different day. So, how exactly has the world of HR changed?

A new report, released by Bamboo HR, looks at the world of work as it is now, and how the last decade has helped shape it. Bamboo HR started by reviewing specific research that examined the state of HR before the era began. After combing through the data to find the most representative results from 2006, it asked the same questions to a new group of working professionals in 2016.

The results revealed numerous insights into the state of HR today when it comes to employee satisfaction, electronic media usage in the workplace, workplace environment, and workplace stress and anxiety. Here is a brief recap of the findings.

Employee Satisfaction

While the results revealed that employees generally reported similar job satisfaction as they felt 10 years ago, Bamboo HR uncovered some important distinctions in how employees view different aspects of their jobs. These aspects include leadership, meaningfulness, growth opportunities, loyalty, corporate recognition, and work/life balance.

Generally, the results show that employees feel the workplace has become more employee-focused in the last 10 years. However, while employees may feel like their companies value their service, how their skills connect to their company’s future success may not be as clear.

Other key findings include:

  • 71% of employees either agree or strongly agree that the person they report to is an effective leader. That’s an increase from 64% 10 years ago.
  • The most drastic increase in recognition was found among employees ages 40 to 50, where 21% more employees agree or strongly agree that they receive meaningful recognition for work well done.
  • 5% fewer employees (79% today) feel like the job they are doing is a good fit for their skills and interests.
  • 5% fewer employees (83% today) said they know how their work helps their department achieve its goals.

Workplace Environment

Workplace environment matters more to employers today than it did 10 years ago, and employees are taking note. Employees have embraced a less traditional workplace, and they prefer environments that champion creativity and innovation. However, the results show that employees haven’t quite left the office behind—they still overwhelmingly prefer working in an office to working remotely.

Other key findings include:

  • Those who feel the quality of their work environment affects their job satisfaction has remained unchanged in the last 10 years, at about nine out of 10 employees.
  • 79% of employees today (down only 5%) still feel they accomplish their best work at the office.

Electronic Media Usage

Now that employers have had 10 more years to become familiar with mobile technology and social media, they seem to be easing up on previously strict electronic media policies and surveillance practices.

With the expansion of mobile Internet networks, employees have new routes for accessing the Internet, rendering many of the blocking programs ineffective in controlling Internet use. But these results also revealed that, while HR may have loosened up, employees may still be skeptical of their electronic independence on work computers or corporate Wi-Fi channels.

Other key findings include:

  • 10 years ago, employers thought that it was important to regulate e-mail usage—76% said their organizations had e-mail usage and content policies. Today, that number has decreased by more than half, with only 34% of companies reporting they have such policies.
  • In 2006, nearly two out of three (65%) companies used technology to block connections to banned websites. Today, fewer than one out of three (30%) HR professionals and members of management report they do this.

Workplace Stress and Anxiety

The previously mentioned updates to management style, employee recognition, and workplace environment may be alleviating some employee stress and anxiety. Bamboo HR asked survey respondents to select the workplace factor(s) that caused stress and their response(s) to workplace stress.

Overall, it appears that fewer people are experiencing daily stress and, for those who are, that stress is having a smaller impact. Stress and anxiety may also be coming from different places today.

Other key findings include:

  • Just over half (53%) of employees say the daily stress they experience interferes with their lives at least moderately, while almost three-fourths of employees who experienced frequent stress in 2006 felt like it interfered with their daily lives.
  • In 2006, the leading cause of workplace stress was deadlines. In 2016, however, the new workplace stress is “dealing with issues/problems that arise,” which was ranked #4, 10 years ago.

It’s apparent that the world of HR has changed. In light of these findings, Bamboo HR now strives to give workers a clear understanding of how their work makes a solid contribution toward accomplishing team goals. Providing this understanding can create a balanced workplace, one that is rewarding for both companies and employees. Where will the world of HR be 10 years from now?

For a closer look at the survey’s findings regarding the impact work environment has on employee productivity and creativity, see the infographic below. For more information, and to view the full report, click here.

For a larger view, click on the image.