2018 New Workplace Trends

Most economic indicators show a positive view of the U.S. economy in 2018 – which means good things for both clients and candidates. Yet there are several areas that remain a challenge when it comes to finding the right talent for the right positions. To prepare ahead of time, here are some of the key trends we expect in the new year:

  1. Greater Candidate Confidence in the Job Market

Earlier this year the “official” unemployment rate reached the lowest it’s been in 16 years, and has consistently remained low. The healthcare industry is also predicted to be one of the fastest growing industries in 2018.

With more jobs being added to the market, candidate confidence in their ability to find a quality job is at an all-time high. As more leverage shifts to candidates, job seekers are becoming more selective and less willing to settle for a job that does not meet their requirements.

Even those who are currently employed are increasingly likely to be looking at other opportunities. High performers are being constantly approached with enticing offers, and companies need to be sure they are doing everything they can to keep their best people happy.

  1. Increased Competition for Specialized Talent

The industry shift from broad-based R&D to more innovative research for niche products and services requires candidates to have increasingly diverse and specialized skillsets.

For companies striving to innovate and deliver the next breakthrough in technology, there are a limited amount of highly specialized candidates in the talent pool. This, combined with high retirement rates of executive “baby boomers”, has companies scrambling to fill key roles with less experienced candidates, many of whom are less qualified but seeking career development.

  1. Improved Hiring Experience

Given the trends in employee confidence and talent competition, wise employers will adjust their strategy for attracting new candidates. We expect a greater focus on employer branding, the candidate experience, and corporate reputation.

We also anticipate many companies to significantly improve their hiring process. The biotech & pharma industries have one of the longest interview processes times. Data shows employers lose a significant number of good candidates due to a slow-moving hiring processes.

We expect companies to make a big push to streamline their application and interview processes, enabling them to move more quickly to offer when they find the right candidate for the position.

  1. Flexibility & Work Life Balance on the Rise

In the past two decades, the volume of employees who have worked at least partially by telecommuting has quadrupled, and now stands at 37%.

Flexibility and work/life balance is one of the most desirable benefits among both women and Millennials – two relatively more available candidate pools. With such a high demand, employers are increasingly providing options to attract and retain high performers from these candidate pools.

  1. More Performance- based Goals

With greater flexibility and more remote work, we expect a similar rise in performance-based, goal driven cultures. Management is transitioning from “micro-managing” employees onsite, to a more performance-driven approach. In the future, an even greater percentage of compensation will be tied to achieving goals and corporate objectives.

  1. Greater Focus on Diversity & Inclusion

No longer is diversity and inclusion just a buzz topic. Diversity enhances innovation, and companies with balanced executive teams outperform those with less diverse teams. 1, 2, 3 Given the talent crisis, the under-utilized and available talent pools of the future are the historically under-utilized pools of gender diverse, ethnically diverse, and millennials.

Data shows that companies who have diverse leadership teams have an advantage in performance, and in recruiting. As more companies continue to realize powerful results, we anticipate even greater commitment, support, resources, and mentoring programs to further enhance diversity in the workplace. That being said, it will still require effort from women and minorities already in leadership roles to help others get the advancement opportunities they deserve.

With these efforts, we believe there is no better time than now for women and minorities to land incredible executive-level roles.

  1. Succession Planning Focus

Nearly half of CEOs have indicated an increased focus on developing a pipeline of future leaders was one of the most important components to keep their company competitive.

Smart companies are leveraging their seasoned executives to pass on the skills needed to their future successors prior to retirement. We expect to see more succession planning focus, employee mentoring programs, and training to become a greater priority to effectively prepare the next generation of leadership.

The landscape for 2018 will continue to evolve as we head into the new year. Toft Group remains committed to enhancing our clients’ return on investment by quickly identifying the right candidate for each important role on the executive leadership team and Board of Directors. We believe the future is bright, and progressive companies will realize impressive growth opportunities. To start your next executive search in biotech and healthcare high tech, contact us.



  1. Archer, Seth. Companies with Women in Leadership Roles Crush the Competition. Business Insider. June 17, 2016.
  2. Rock, David, et al. Why Diverse Teams are Smarter. HBR.org. Nov. 4, 2016.
  3. What Makes a High-Performing Team? The Answer May Surprise You. MIT Sloan Executive Education. Mar 22, 2017