Consumer Trends become Employee Trends

Many of us may pay attention to HR trends, such as changes in demographics, but how many HR people pay attention to consumer trends? You should because consumer trends become employee trends. After all our employees are consumers in the bigger world and what they want in the bigger world will often be reflected in what they want in the more limited world of your workplace.

The trend of Nowism

The folks at reports in their newsletter that there is an increasing movement to what they call “servile” brands. They say servile means turning your brand into a lifestyle focused on catering to the needs, desires and whims of your customers, whenever and wherever they are. I think that as companies turn to this with their customers they will soon discover that they need to do the same with their employees.

“Nowism” is one aspect of this servile orientation. It results from time compression. In a materialistic driven economy, consumers (aka employees) find that they do not have enough time to relax. They are constantly looking for ways to make things quicker and easier in order to attempt to get more time. As say “… consumers are demanding tools and services to help them get the most from the present moment, however brief.” defines “Nowism” as”

‘Consumers’ ingrained’ lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. As a result, expect your brand and company to have no choice but to finally mirror and join the ‘now’, in all its splendid chaos, realness and excitement.

Don’t we now see this in the way we deal with employees? Much of what we have done has been explained as being more efficient or effective but it also falls in line with this desire for quick gratification. I can think of several arenas in HR that this applies to, including:

  • HR technology that provides online answers to questions that the employee cannot wait until tomorrow to get answered
  • An entire change in the structure and thought process of performance appraisal to providing immediate feedback via online “chatter” applications because waiting for feedback until the end of the year was not good
  • Providing instant acknowledgement to an applicant that their resume or application had been received.

I am sure you can provide instances that are particular to your own organization that fit this trend. We do tend to stress quickness and immediacy of decision.

Of course the more we adapt to the trend of “nowism” the more we promote the movement toward it. Most of us are not immune to it ourselves. How many of you get impatient if your smart phone loses its signal for a brief moment thus not allowing you to get a quick answer you may have asked on Google? The solution is to buy a signal booster or change providers so that no signal is lost, or so we think. I am not immune to it, and I am a baby boomer that remembers how amazing it was that you could have a computer in your room as opposed to walking to the central mainframe to do your work. Or how amazing it was to have a laptop. And I was perfectly happy with the one minute it took to get an answer looking something up on AOL with a landline modem. says “In the still rapidly expanding online world, instant gratification is even easier to obtain: ‘digital’ has become synonymous with ‘instant’. Furthermore, if something digital/online is too slow, too cumbersome, too poorly written, or too boring, a substitute is only a search term and a click away. And yes, this is indirectly setting consumers’ expectations for the ‘real’ world, too.”

Consumer Trends develop into Employee Trends

You need to be aware of this trend and pay attention to the things in your company and HR world that need to be altered in order to stay relevant lest your employee becomes bored and moves to the quicker, more instant alternative. In doing so, you’ll be able to retain talent more efficently and create an engaging and dynamic workplace.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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