In 2018 we saw several interesting trends, some affecting your business and others not. The Bitcoin bubble and the blockchain behind it was, in fact, a bubble to this point, and most of us have no idea how to incorporate blockchain technology into our business anyway. Artificial Intelligence, for the most part, is also beyond us, unless already incorporated into something we use like an iRobot or Siri. So what can we anticipate to appear on the business frontier that will affect us this year?
Tight Labor Market: What was an uncomfortable issue is still trending in small business. The national unemployment rate remains at an historic low of 3.7% according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Economists and industry analysts predict the labor market will likely remain tight in 2019 across most industries. In survey after survey, this has become the number one hot-button issue for small businesses. The pendulum is swinging to the side of the worker, in that many of their previous wishes are coming true. Shorter work weeks, telecommuting and the like must be used to keep your business operating at full capacity. You could take the lead from larger corporations and utilize the gig economy to fill vacancies or perform functions that were once done by a full-time individual.
Healthcare Benefits: This alone can be the reason that someone comes to work for you or not. The ability to be comfortable in the knowledge that their family will be taken care of if ill is enormous. It is expensive to you, but something that needs to be considered. In addition to major health and dental, there are other health and wellness services you could offer, including specialized benefits such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, vision, and hearing services, which may appeal to many workers.
Wearable Technology: While there are companies that are moving in a draconian fashion forward by implanting small chips into an employee, this is far from a trend. You see this more internationally than here at home. One hopes that this innovation is never incorporated into you literally or figuratively. So what is wearable technology? According to ABI Research, an estimated six million workers around the world will receive products such as Fitbits or Apple Watches, as part of company-sponsored wellness initiatives. There is a two-fold benefit here. One, features such as activity and fitness trackers and heart rate monitoring help companies keep their workforce healthy, increasing overall productivity. Second, insurance companies may offer financial incentives benefiting both employers and employees who choose to use these devices, helping drive significant cost savings.
Company Policy Documentation: The need for transparency in 2019 will become even more important in our litigious society. Employees prefer this knowledge and employers need to provide it legally. Creating an up-to-date employee handbook that is readily accessible will benefit both upper management and employees. A handbook is a must-have for smaller organizations, particularly in the next year as there are likely more changes coming to health and wellness benefit plans and employment law.