With the season premiere of the TV series Mad Men next week, I can't help but to reflect on how much the workplace has changed since the 60’s. While some of the trends have evolved slowly, some seem to have happened overnight. Here are seven trends I think would have shocked the hell out of Don Draper:
Work place massages: While physical interaction may have been frequent in the 60’s, it certainly wasn’t by a company masseuse. Modern workplaces are quickly recognizing that to be a top employer, they have to provide a lot of perks, like massages. Other benefits popping up include fitness centers, indoor rock climbing walls, nap areas, and posh company cafeterias.
Job instability: My grandma was always confused (and disappointed!) whenever I told her I had a new job. In her era, you stayed with one company for life. Not anymore. Long gone are the company lifers who invested their entire careers to a single company. In the era of job ‘promiscuity’, changing jobs regularly is not just tolerated, it is encouraged. Employers want employees with diverse backgrounds and multiple skill sets.
BYOD in meetings: One of the first things I ever noticed while watching Mad Men is how engaged the employees were during meetings. When someone spoke, everyone listened. Ok, yes, this is TV, but I can’t help but to think we’d all be a little more engaged if we weren’t bringing our lap tops and mobile devices into the room. With all of these distractions it feels like less is getting accomplished—resulting in more meetings!
Remote workers: In the '60s, the workplace consisted mostly of men with stay-at home wives. They worked long hours at the office because that’s where they could be the most productive. Of course this was all before email and cloud-based software. Thanks to Enterprise 2.0 technology, employees can now engage and collaborate with each other without being in the office.
Female leaders: Only 22% of women worked in 1960 compared to close to 70% who have jobs now. And it’s not just ‘secretarial’ positions either. There are now 20 female CEOs running America’s largest companies—like Marissa Mayer, who at 37 is the youngest ever CEO of a Fortune 500.
Employee rights: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created in 1965, with several amendments including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Civil Rights Act of 1991. There has also been a large shift toward recruitment equality as more and more companies aspire to be employers that promote inclusiveness—not just for ethnic minorities but for LGBT employees as well.
Casual attire: Forget casual Fridays—a lot of employees now dress casual every day. Gen Y is probably the guiltiest of this, even going as far as wearing jeans to job interviews. Call me old fashioned, but this is the one trend I wish we’d move back the other direction. I’m not suggesting all men wear a suit jacket with a pocket square, but depending on the environment a little respect for the workplace is never a bad thing.
There is one trend however that I think Mr. Draper would be relieved about: Drinking in the workplace. Companies may not be embracing alcohol to the extent that they did in the 60’s, but there has been a definite shift in alcohol tolerance. The reasons cited? Enhanced creativity, increased employee engagement, and informal problem solving. Hmmm, those Mad Men may not have been so mad after all.