The office many of us call home 40 or more hours each week doesn’t look like it used to. While the throwback nostalgia of TV shows like Mad Men remind us that not long ago, one gender signed the contracts and made the rules and the other took notes, made coffee or just remained home altogether, the current office structure is best described as a place where the fundamental principles of work remain, but the dynamic of who works, when we work and how we achieve company goals are completely different.

What current trends do human resource professionals view as employment hot topics?

Sexual harassment and other toxic issues

Of all the current HR hot topics, the national news makes this subject the most pressing. From Hollywood to the halls of Congress, the #MeToo stories from men and women deluge the media daily and once told, more will follow. Sexual harassment on the job is a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but the law does not prevent the estimated 25% to 85% of women from experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Men are coming forward with their recollections, and other harassment issues based on gender identity, sexual preference, race and religious beliefs and clothing are on the rise.


Employees worry about taking time off, shutting down their devices and enjoying earned vacation time. They get concerned when their company does not offer connectivity capability to their phones, yet complain about being “on call” all the time. This HR topic affects everyone’s morale: too much time on the job answering emails and phone calls is unhealthy, but too little time results in customer neglect and incomplete work.

Work-life balance

A part of the connectivity conundrum, HR management is the bridge between the corporate office and disconnected employees unable or unwilling to take steps to achieve a healthy halfway point between home and work responsibilities. Business owners and employers have an understanding that workers need to step away and take care of appointments or attend family functions, but they are unaware of methods to increase job flexibility while maintaining productivity.

Employee engagement

Staffers want more than a paycheck; they want involvement in company decisions and the motivation to move out into the community. Volunteering is more than a nice show; it’s your company advertised and branded with a team effort that improves local lives. And employee committees with decision-making input result in loyal employees who come to work every day with the intention of remaining for the long-term.

Paperless storage of documents

Forget rooms of file drawers and offsite storage. Cloud storage lightens the physical load, eases retrieval and access and ensures safety with proper encryption. Multiple teams share and alter a single document in a meeting, clients receive forms and contracts via secure email and employees contribute to a greener, less cluttered office by using less paper, ink, and toner. Paperless storage saves space, expedites necessary corrections as compliance requirements change and create a smooth flow of materials for your sales and marketing divisions.

24/7 accessible HR

Employees want access to everything from available vacation and sick time to retirement contributions and medical plan information. And they don’t want to call or email HR every time they have a question or update contact information. They want to take care of personal issues quickly and want to do it at a time and place convenient to them, not HR’s operating hours. HR apps exist for most department functions including recruiting, sales, attendance, payroll, performance metrics, and benefits.

Open space vs. virtual space vs. cubicle space

The open or shared workspace was considered the saving grace of the office: it permitted the free exchange of ideas, light, and air, knocked down the ugly cubicle walls and encouraged physical movement among employees. It also removed privacy, decreased productivity and increased noise levels. The “cube” was dismal in its sameness, but it absorbed noise, concealed power panels, and cords and increased productivity. The virtual office, whether at home, a coffee shop or an offsite rented office space, meant less overhead but no way to track hours or productivity or meet professionally with clients. Which workspace works is an HR topic still seeking a solution.

Teams and collaboration

Two or more people working towards one goal make a team; multiple teams working together on that goal is collaboration, and the movement from team goals to teams’ goals is part of a company’s sense of purpose and dedication to faster, better and less costly success. HR’s role is gathering and providing resources: Internet-based training, file sharing and video conferencing and encouraging all participants to view each other as equals and leave their titles outside the conference room while bringing their ideas and expertise to the table.

Where is the work going?

The President recently announced semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom’s return to U.S.-based manufacturing, but this is one company out of six who left the country just in 2016 for cheaper labor, favorable taxes, and lower costs. Outsourcing jobs to robots and other countries concerns employees and current HR topics include answering worker’s questions and addressing anxieties while dealing with the reality of job displacement.

How green is my workplace

It’s not just about reducing paper usage and cloud storage. Chemical storage, cleaning products, air quality, lighting and alternative transportation to work are staff concerns. HR departments contribute to sustainable work practices with posted conservation reminders, using vendors selling recycled products, providing paper and plastic recycling bins and tracking and posting the office’s green accomplishments regularly.

Many ages, one workspace

The Millennial generation is moving from the bottom tier to the top offices, Gen Z is on the way in and the Baby Boomers are working longer because they can and want the extra money for later retirement. The gathering of generations in one office creates a chance for both successful collaboration and schoolyard cliques. HR’s role is introducing one group to the other as coworkers and team members, without the “them vs. us” mentality.

Knowledge Anywhere offers cloud-based training solutions for the healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, financial and technology industries. Our specialized courses modernize and customize the learning process, teaching relevant and job-specific skills accessible on your computer hardware. Measure results and gain feedback that grows your business and develops your staff effectively. From a single course to fully immersive virtual reality training, we offer real-world training while minimizing risk at a cost-effective level. Our goal is your optimal talent acquisition and management; not just finding the best people for your workplace, but training, coaching, retaining and promoting them.

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