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5 Ways Employees Should Prepare for the Workplace of the Future

Miriam Salpeter

As the millennial generation, often defined as those born between 1982 and 1997, makes up more of the workforce, and as its members move into leadership roles in industry, we can expect their generational perspectives to shape the workplace. Lindsey Pollak, Generation Y career expert and spokeswoman for The Hartford, identifies key items to watch regarding the future world of work in her Tomorrow @Work trends forecast.

How can you prepare for the workplace of the future? These are five tips Pollak suggests:

1. Define what "Work-Life 3.0" looks like for you. No doubt, you've heard a lot of buzz about flexible work arrangements. Technology makes it possible to work from home or from the road, and some companies have embraced a digital workplace. "Millennials come into the workplace expecting flexible options on day one, which means that work flexibility no longer only applies to employees with children," Pollak notes. What would flexible work mean for you? Could it make you happier and more productive? For instance, Pollak asks, "Could you negotiate with your boss to work an hour later in order to get to the gym for an hour during the day? Just remember when negotiating for any arrangement to put your request in terms of how it will benefit the company, such as through your increased productivity or creativity."

Luckily, research illustrates that companies make more money when employees are satisfied. And studies of Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" found that many top-rated companies also generate stock returns higher than their competitors.

2. Take charge of customizing your future, today. The traditional corporate ladder no longer exists. "Many more companies today are offering flexible or customized positions or responsibilities, such as unique job titles or non-traditional schedules and career moves," Pollak explains. She suggests you use this trend to identify the path you want to take. "Think about the next five years of your life and pinpoint your top priorities," she says. "Then determine how you might customize aspects of your life and career, such as volunteering to take on new projects that better fit your skills and longer term plans."

3. Use social media for more than your personal life. Social media is an integral part of the recruiting process. Employers use social media to share information about their companies and jobs, and they learn about potential candidates by researching what people post online. "Make sure that your social media profiles reflect the best professional version of you, and that your social network reflects your real network," Pollak reminds job seekers. "This includes LinkedIn, of course, but also Facebook, Twitter and other niche sites depending on your industry. When you have robust and impressive social media profiles, people you've spoken to in person during your job search can quickly pass along your LinkedIn profile or other social credentials to the HR department at their company or to other valuable contacts, thus speeding your path to a new position."

4. Take advantage of co-workers' varying experiences. Workplaces will continue to be a diverse array of a variety of generations for years to come. It's typical for workplaces to have three different generations of workers (boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y) working together. Pollak notes, "According to The Hartford's 2013 Benefits for Tomorrow Study, 90 percent of millennials agree that baby boomers bring substantial experience and knowledge to the workplace and 93 percent of boomers believe that millennials bring new skills and ideas to the workplace." Embrace the different work styles and skill sets that each person brings and benefit from the diversity.

5. Watch your stress levels. There have been a number of recent studies citing the high stress levels of employees, particularly millennials. "While you can't always control the amount of work you need to complete or even the hours you work, keep conscious of your mental health," Pollak says. "If you are feeling bogged down with stress, check at work to see what support services are available, such as counseling through an employee assistance program or insurance options that might cover some time off and help you get back to an active professional and personal life."

Current employees, or those just entering the workforce, can set themselves up to be successful if they use how the workplace is changing to their advantage. Making little changes to adapt slowly can be more manageable and pay off to secure the future you want.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success.

Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.

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