Ten 2017 Workplace Trends Employers Can't Afford to Ignore


The way we work is changing, and the Australian workplace is changing with it. Experts have predicted the following trends to emerge or continue throughout 2017.

Workplace Culture First

Cultural fit and character are emerging as the top employer considerations when assessing candidates for a role, with many employers adopting the “hire character, train skill” approach, says Bridget Loudon, co-founder and CEO at Expert360.

The importance of cultural fit is one of the results of today’s multi-generational workforce. Employers are facing the challenge of ensuring that there is an alignment amongst employees on the values and vision of the organisation. “You can determine whether a candidate will fit into the company culture by asking questions during the interview that are character driven rather than skill driven,” Louden added. “Rather than “tell me about a project you worked on,” try “what did you do when a project didn’t go well?” – this will give an insight into character as well as competence”.

According to Louden, 2017 will be about hiring for character, not skills. By showing existing employees that you are considering who they will be working with, it shows them that they are valued. “Try to connect to people on non-work related issues,” she also advised. “Take time to understand them – what’s important to them? Candidates will value this.”

Internships as a Business Strategy, not an afterthought

It is predicted that by 2020, 40% of the total working population will be millennials – and Work Integrated Learning placements, also known as internships, are crucial for providing them with their first taste of the ultra-competitive working world. Many Australian employers are beginning to recognise the characteristics unique to this generation: entrepreneurship, risk-taking and flexibility, and Work Integrated Learning placements have generally been designed to mutually benefit both parties. Interns are also statistically more likely to perform better and stay longer if given employment with their host company.

Emerging trends in internships have seen the rise of “virtual internships” in industries such as finance and consulting. Recent legislations in Australia and overseas reflect the role of internships as an important and legitimate form of employment.

Continuous opportunity hunting by employees

Workers are no longer remaining loyal to one employer for decades or their entire working life. The likelihood is that employees will constantly be on the lookout for their next job, with networking being a new normality and an ever-present “fear of missing out” motivating people to be aware of all potential opportunities. According to CareerOne, smart employers use this to their advantage by recognising and nurturing this desire to excel.

Talent development key to retention

With corporate loyalty a thing of the past, employers are increasing offering talent development opportunities. Although development programs were previously reserved for those at the top of the corporate pyramid, career development programs, alongside skill workshops, are becoming increasingly accessible to every level of the corporate hierarchy.

“Employers need to try and ensure that they have a dynamic and open work environment, particularly for millennials and young people who want change,” said Loudon. “If employers can create a dynamic workplace where people can rotate within roles and have opportunities to work on different projects, it shows employees that the organisation supports them and their goals." She added that it is important to recognise that the best talent will not want to be locked into roles for years – and preventing them from leaving can stop more top talent from entering the company.

Millennials becoming the boss

A recent study revealed that 72% of millennials would like to become their own boss. This new generation of young individuals – perhaps inspired by the rise of start-ups and billion-dollar valuations with which they have grown up – craves the opportunity to progress into positions of leadership.

Casual wear

Casual Fridays are extending across the working week for many organisations. Many employees use their attire to express individuality at work. This trend is perhaps inspired by tech giant Google, which is renowned for encouraging informality with casual work wear, Zen zones and free food for staff – which has led to increased productivity and innovation for the company. It has also been shown to break down barriers between those providing the service and their customers. 

The rise of the freelancer

Thirty percent of Australians are now undertaking some form of flexible freelance work. If Australia follows US trends, this number is expected to rise to 50% by 2020. Technology has been a key driver of this trend by making it easy for organisations to connect with talent on demand.


Employees are no longer expected to be at their desk from nine to five every day. Technological advancements have paved the way for an increase in more flexible working arrangements. In today’s ever-connected world, a physical workplace is no longer a necessity for employees to fulfil their duties. According to Darren Poke of Advantage Resumes, businesses that will succeed in 2017 are the ones that embrace technology to support their biggest asset: people.

Rapid talent intake

Companies are striving to connect with and hire the top candidates faster than ever before. Advances in connectivity, websites, and accessibility and communication platforms have made this possible. “Successful businesses are ones that can quickly pull in talent they need” stressed Loudon. “What many employers are currently doing is looking at traditional ways of getting resources but realising that these channels aren’t fast enough. It takes 42 days on average to hire someone, even for a short term role, and the vast majority are consequently looking to online options, which can cut this down to as little as three days.”

Employers are also attempting to vertically integrate their talent acquisition by attracting top graduate candidates with internship programs and other career building opportunities.

Work is increasingly personal

Work-life balance is a phrase with which most will already be familiar, and the New Year will see employees continuing with their attempts to maintain a satisfactory balance between the two. It is also predicted that workers will continue to want to see the value of their work.

Don't fall behind the pack, keep up with these workplace trends, and make your business 2017 ready. 

Can we help you? Performance Careers is a leading organisation providing Professional Year and Work Integrated Learning programs that improve the employability of graduates. We have placed over 8,500 students in more than 2,500 small, medium and large Australian companies. For more information about how we can help you add interns into your talent acquisition mix, please contact us.

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