We saw some long-anticipated predictions materialise in 2016. We can expect to see these exciting transitions continue this year as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has launched many deep and thoughtful conversations on thriving in a world that is rapidly becoming reliant on digital technology.

Here are some of the key themes to look out for in our predicted trends for 2017:

Flexibility

Today's technology is enabling more and more professionals to change their mindsets about giving up full-time employment for contract-based opportunities that offer greater control over their time, growth, education, and job security. This trend is largely being driven by those with bulkier resumes and longer tenures especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries. The job market is filling up with new and exciting endeavours, but there is a limited number of qualified professionals to fill the need.

Managing contractors – who may only be around for 6-12 months – requires a creative and systematic approach to crafting fair pay and benefits arrangements that can attract, motivate, and protect them. Note that a majority of these employees will be in life stages where time for family and personal growth will take priority. But, the returns to reap can be vast and game-changing for your organisation.

Engaging contingent workers can reduce overhead costs, especially for tax and infrastructure expenses. Their valuable experiences and insights can introduce much-needed diversity, dynamism, and agility to your business, and provide cost-effective learning and innovation initiatives. Moreover, they could become ambassadors for the culture and brand, which can boost your organisation's reputation and staffing objectives.

Technology

The concept of having greater flexibility in the workplace has been brewing for a long time, but the administrative demands for implementing custom arrangements was a minefield. Nowadays, however, with the world changing at a breakneck speed, organisations have to be ever more robust.

A mere ten years ago, digital spreadsheets and automated charts were all it took to enable pay strategies. Now there are powerful compensation software products to help perform this task. These can not only implement flexible arrangements but more importantly, integrate seamlessly between systems and process, thus enabling linkages between job levelling, market benchmarking, and compensation analytics. This gives compensation professionals increased opportunities to strategize further and determine timely solutions that could give more bang for buck, not to mention save countless hours of manual administration.

Personalisation

Many of the hybrid jobs that now exist weren't even offered five to ten years ago. These roles will continue to evolve as we speed through the 21st century, which will call for an overhaul of the traditional compensation mindset.

Professionals have previously been content to take their salary and expect an across-the-board approach to pay increases and rewards. But as flexibility in the workplace becomes the norm, employees will also want their compensation and benefits packages to become more personalised.

Organisations will see analytics strongly recommending actions to maximise on human capital by adopting skills-based performance evaluation; customising pay and benefits to address the employee's life stage and personal needs; and creating alternative paths of career growth.

It will be worthwhile revisiting your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and to consider creating customised rewards programmes for the top talent that are vital to your organisation. Supplementing analytics with employee insights could steer your EVP towards a more meaningful goal for both the business and your workforce.

Health and Wellness

While rapid technological advancements of this era have helped to streamline systems and processes, they have also made the global marketplace even more competitive and demanding. According to our 2016 Staying@Work Survey, over 50% of employees say their jobs are a primary source of stress, especially in companies where there is less regard or prioritisation of personal safety, health, and wellbeing. Numerous studies have linked workplace stress with various medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and mental health issues.

However, many employers still view health and wellness as an individual responsibility, preferring to stick with mostly hands-off approaches like providing medical insurance, sick leaves, and occasional off-site activities.

On the other hand, there is evidence that management-led health and wellness programmes, which are thoughtfully planned and coordinated, result in a happier and healthier workplace – with less distress, higher engagement and increased wellbeing. Productivity can be enhanced, and both hard and soft health care costs would decrease."1 Successful health and productivity strategies have resulted in 6.5 fewer missed work days, twice higher engagement on the job, 25% fewer employees with hypertension, 24% fewer employees with high blood sugar levels, and 50% higher revenue per employee, among many other benefits.2

Pay and Transparency

Base salary continues to be the number one driver of attraction and retention for employees in Asia Pacific3. It is as crucial as ever to not only get your compensation right – but to ensure you are communicating openly and honestly to your workforce about pay. People now know that performance evaluation is a two-way street; the question of "How can you contribute to our bottom line?" applies to both the employer's business objectives and the employee's personal needs.

What factors are considered in determining pay? Is compensation benchmarked against similar roles and skillsets in the market? How is the company doing financially? Can the employer afford to offer salary increases in the next year?

Organisations that stick with the old rhetoric – of only equating salary to the job and performance rating – risk causing confusion for their employees and may appear more unfair or untrustworthy. Employees are more likely to trust and engage with employers who openly communicate and explain their compensation and benefits decisions.

Sources:

1 What organizations can do about employee stress
2 Willis Towers Watson 2015/16 Global Staying@Work Survey
3 Willis Towers Watson 2016 Talent Management and Rewards and Global Workforce Studies


About the Author

Towers Watson Media

Sambhav Rakyan

Willis Towers Watson


Sambhav Rakyan is the Data Services Practice Leader of Willis Towers Watson Asia Pacific. To connect with Sam, email wtwapdata@willistowerswatson.com.