Northeast Ohio businesses are adjusting to the changing workplace, ERC survey finds


For the 16th year in a row, the ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey has uncovered an abundant amount of workplace practices data from local organizations in Northeast Ohio.

The 2015 trends cover several business areas, specifically those relating to safety policies, training and development, compensation and benefits, communication between employers, and employees and recruitment.

The results of this year’s survey suggest that local businesses are busy adjusting to the quickly changing world of work while also implementing more formal policies within the workplace.

The changing nature of work

Because the biggest challenge for local organizations continues to be hiring and retaining top talent, it is important for employers to understand the changing expectations of the modern workforce.

It is no surprise that the traditional eight-hour workday is no longer “the rule” in the labor world. Local businesses are adjusting to such changes, with nearly half of all organizations offering opportunities for work arrangements such as flextime and part-time work options.

A small portion of local organizations offer a compressed workweek option (18.8 percent). A few surveyed employers indicated that they offer a four-day work schedule, while others reported allowing flexible options on a situational basis.

The language concerning work/life balance might be out-of-date, as the two spheres appear to slowly merge into one entity. It seems unrealistic for employees to establish a clean division from their personal lives while they are at work. Many are responsible for the care of others in their homes, an obligation that makes compliance with the traditional workweek difficult.

Interestingly, organizations on both the national and local level do not currently provide such support for their employees. Nearly all (93.1 percent) surveyed Northeast Ohio employers do not offer child or elder care assistance.

Digital tools becoming the norm

Several workplace processes, such as recruitment and training, are moving into the digital territory. Businesses are utilizing Internet job boards and social media tools (particularly LinkedIn) to attract the best available talent.

Nearly half (48.5 percent) of local employers report having an Online Career Center within their company website as part of the hiring process. But organizations are doing more than just posting available job positions. The highest proportion in five years, 27 percent, shows local pride by organizations actively promoting living and working in Northeast Ohio.

The use of Web-based training for all surveyed organizations has declined by nearly 7 percent since last year, but is still used by 66 percent of local businesses for personnel development purposes. Not surprisingly, non-manufacturing businesses report using Web-based training more than organizations in the manufacturing industry.

Formal policies on the rise

More organizations are currently implementing written workplace policies and utilizing more formal systems of tracking and managing their workforce. A majority (85.1 percent) of Northeast Ohio employers now have written safety programs and procedures, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.

An increasing number of organizations also have written policies in place, such as those regarding disaster recovery, firearms and diversity. In addition, organizations provide employees with a paper trail of job descriptions and employee handbooks most of the time.

More than half, or 63 percent of local employers use a human resources information system according to this year’s survey. This rising emphasis on implementing written workplace policies seems to coincide with a new organizational challenge for local employers: complying with government regulations.

Pat Perry is president of ERC, Northeast Ohio’s largest organization dedicated to human resources and workplace program, practices, training and consulting. (440) 684-9700 [email protected]