History of the Emerging Workforce Study

History of the Emerging Workforce Study

As the Emerging Workforce Study celebrates its 20th anniversary, it’s fascinating to see just how far the workplace has come. In 1997, the Emerging Workforce Study was the first to identify three types of workers—emergent, traditional and migrating—and the values and beliefs that define their work style. This revolutionary way of viewing the workforce uncovered substantial insights about how to effectively recruit, manage and retain them. Since then, each annual study expanded upon the previous one to provide trending data that paints a detailed portrait of the American workforce. It’s the only national representative survey of both employers and employees, reflecting the opinions of 224,000+ workers and thousands of companies over the life of the Study. We invite you to explore the shifts in workforce trends over the past 20 years.

1997 – Launch of the Emerging Workforce Study. The study explores the beliefs and values of each worker group and its direct impact on attraction, recruitment and retention.

1999 – Workplace relationships prove a significant factor in the overall happiness of workers. Whether an employee viewed their supervisor as a friend or not has a direct bearing on their job satisfaction, trust in their employer, loyalty and beliefs about the quality of management in their organization.

2003 – Ethics, culture and work environment are huge for employees. Workers who suspect unethical company behavior are likely to make it known. On the flip side, a positive work environment and company culture are among the top reasons workers opt to stay with an employer.

2005 – Work/life balance is in high demand. As workers struggle to balance the responsibilities of their professional life with their personal life, work/life balance programs are becoming a lead factor in employee retention.

2007 – More workers are on the move in pursuit of new employment than ever before. And, a growing number of them are determined to carve out their own niche in the workforce as a free agent. Worker confidence is rising and expanding the bounds of opportunity.

2009 – Social media is creating a deeper level of transparency and accountability for employers. A clear corporate mission and active follow-through matters to employees. In fact, workers say it has a significant impact on their job satisfaction and loyalty to an employer.

2010 – The rise of social media has resulted in major shifts on the employment front and employers are missing the mark. Attracting, engaging and retaining talent must be part of a formal social media strategy, yet many companies either don’t have one or underestimate its importance.

2013 – Economic uncertainty has caused a surge in free-agent thinking. Workers are realizing it's up to them to create their own stability in the workforce. Moreover, workers are scrutinizing employers more closely via social media, and corporate mission, values and reputation are shaping their views.

2014 – Companies have squeezed all they can from their workforce leaving employees burned out and disengaged. As employers look for ways to ramp-up engagement, HR practices are proving to be a crucial part of the puzzle. Moreover, companies must tailor their recruitment efforts more effectively to win the best talent.

2015 – Employers and employees are concerned about the future—workers, due to a lack of skills and companies, due to an impending skill gap. Finding qualified talent is difficult and retaining them amid decreasing loyalty is becoming a challenge. As millennials flood the workplace, HR leaders must give priority to talent pipelining and succession planning.

2016 – Workers have renewed confidence in their ability to secure new employment. This power shift is changing the game for employers as they seek out more effective ways to attract, recruit, retain and engage talent. As the workforce experiences a generational shift, employers are charged with a new set of priorities to manage effectively today and prepare for the future.

2017 – Workers are on the move causing employers to refocus their retention efforts on areas that prove meaningful to employees, from raising wages and work/life balance to training and development. STEM professionals and other specialized skill sets are in demand posing new recruiting challenges for employers trying to fill these roles. As Boomers rapidly exit the workplace, the skills gap is widening, forcing employers to get serious about succession planning, equipping Millennials for leadership and recruiting Gen Z.