The work/life industry will continue to ride the wave of mergers and acquisitions. Acquisitions will continue as companies strive to contain cost and enhance delivery of service.
Employers will become more careful in how they spend their work-life dollars. Employers will continue to stress measurement and return on investment of work/life dollars. But, they are becoming more sophisticated and will move beyond focusing solely at measurement issues. They are going to cut certain programs and become increasingly careful in selecting vendors.
Vendors will need to focus on flexibility and responsiveness. As employers become more sophisticated and acceptance and understanding of work/life issues becomes increasingly universal, vendors will no longer assume the role of educators. Instead, they will be focusing on responsiveness and delivery of service -- creating programs tailored to clients' specific needs.
Work/life programs will begin to be outsourced. As companies examine and scrutinize their work/life programs and become more calculated in what they are offering, they will look toward outsourcing as a way to manage cost and enhance quality.
The lines between wellness, employee assistance and work/life programs will be blurred. As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers will see the benefit of pulling together all risk prevention programs -- wellness, EAP, and work/life -- under one umbrella.
Businesses will make larger investments in education. On-site child-care facilities are evolving into learning center and employers are paying more attention to schools and educating the youth of America.
Work/life programs will need to be integrated into company intranets. Resource and referral programs will become technology-driven and will be integrated into company intranets.
Multi-generational workplaces will continue to affect work/life strategies. With mature workers, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and the now-emerging Generation Y working side-by-side, companies will need to create work/life programs that motivate a workforce that, at times, spans 62 years.
Work/life programs will play a more critical role in downsizing efforts. Successful downsizing -- and other change efforts -- requires that companies focus on the people within the organization. To ease the transition for surviving employees, companies will need to have work/life programs in place before the change occurs.
Companies will offer more spousal benefits. Companies have found that focusing on family members -- especially spouses -- enhances the success of career changes such as relocation. As a result, there will be more of an emphasis to include spouses in areas such as training and career development.
Work/life will be integrated into a company's global strategy. As global mergers and acquisitions, the use of expatriates, and global relocation continue to rise, companies will need to focus on creating global work/life strategies.
Corporate American will witness a resurgence in employee commitment and loyalty. As employers continue to see the benefit of taking care of their employees, employees will respond with enhanced commitment and loyalty.
SOURCE: Ann Vincola, Senior Partner, Corporate Work/Life Consulting, subsidiary of Knowledge Beginnings, Boston, MA, 617-867-9175.