Take control


The workplace is getting older, more health-conscious and less private. Deal with it.


Welcome to 2007. Four trends are likely to shape the career outlook for the coming year and the foreseeable future. As you prepare for the year ahead and beyond, plan on living and working longer. Get ready to extend your stay in each job assignment, to change your lifestyle and to clean up your web history.

People are living longer, and many older workers are staying put at flatter, leaner organizations. There are fewer opportunities for advancement, and people remaining in positions longer means delays in promotions for younger workers. “People are having to change jobs to get ahead,” says Joyce Gioia, president of management consultancy The Herman Group, Greensboro, N.C., USA.

If changing jobs isn't an option, Ms. Gioia recommends pairing up with a veteran employee and creating a partnership. “Take the initiative,” she says. “Do your homework on the person and know them before you ask for their help. Take them out to lunch and ask them to be a mentor for you.” If and when that person does leave, you'll be in a good position to replace him or her. Even if your mentor sticks around, you'll still have increased your value by learning more and be better prepared to change jobs if you must.

Rethinking Retirement

Expect to see organizations make even more of an effort to retain older workers. Given the high costs of recruiting, many companies are raising minimum retirement ages and welcoming back retirees.

The hidden benefit: Flexibility for one group means flexibility for everyone. If you're a younger worker with little opportunity for promotion, negotiate for projects or temporary assignments that expand your skills.

Be Healthy—or Pay the Price

Rising costs are forcing employers to take more active roles in promoting employee health. If you choose to indulge in habits that are bad for you, expect to change your lifestyle—or else.

The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., USA, implemented a policy stating that waitresses and bartenders can be terminated if they gain more than seven percent of their body weight. Employees who put on weight receive a 90-day unpaid suspension period in which they're expected to lose it. When healthcare giant Humana, Louisville, Ky., USA, surveyed employees whether they used tobacco, those who responded no received a US$5 bonus each pay period.

To help employees change their habits, more companies are providing onsite medical clinics. These outlets make it easier for employees to visit a doctor and reinforce the employer's message of healthy lifestyles. “There is no loss of productivity from people running off to doctor's appointments,” Ms. Gioia says. “Businesses are more profitable with healthy employees.”


Is That You on That Website?

As the boundary between on- and off-the-job behavior blurs, the biggest threat to getting or keeping a job is often self-imposed. Many employers are now using Google to check up on prospective and current workers, so watch what you leave behind online.

Editing your web presence means more than erasing your past. You want people to find your accomplishments, so make sure your business, volunteer and civic achievements come up in a search—and make sure they're accurate.

This will be another year when the only constant is change. But the most constant change continues to be the growing emphasis on self-management. “People are recognizing more and more they have to take control over their careers,” Ms. Gioia says. In 2007, that means managing your health and privacy as well as your job. PM


John Sullivan, PMP, is an IT project manager in Dayton, Ohio, USA.




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