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Maybe more than ever before, employees in 2013 need to be fully aware of their work environment if they are to succeed.

It’s much better to understand the changes taking place than to let them occur and then figure out how they will affect our job status. By recognizing the flow of changes, you’ll be a happier and ultimately a more successful and valuable worker.

Here are some things that will be — in the parlance of the times — “trending” in workplaces this year:

Better treatment. This will be the year that employers are forced to decide whether they value their workforce enough to invest in it, or whether they would like to take the Walmart barebones approach to employee relations. Workers who have put up with rounds of layoffs, job loss, salary reductions and increased workloads now expect employers in the rebounding economy to share the wealth, meaning raises and better working conditions. With a recent report that only 29 percent of U.S. workers are fully engaged in their jobs, the message is clear from workers: treat us better or we’ll move on.

Social media finds its place on the job. The explosion of social media the past through years has opened up plenty of opportunities for businesses. But it also has ushered in new problems, ranging from squandered work hours to angry employees sounding off to complaints about customers. Lawyers are working overtime to come up with policies to restrict the ability of individuals to cast their employers in a bad light.

Bye-bye boomers. In 2011, the first Baby Boomers turned 65. The retirement flow is now in full flood and will be for the next decade. The loss in the workforce will strain Social Security, Medicare, and pension plans like never before. And, it will leave younger workers with a smaller safety net.

Flexibility reigns. More and more we need the physical office less. Technology has brought us communication and data systems that allow us to work from anywhere at any time. It’s only a matter of time until many businesses figure out the cost-savings available for renting a handful of offices and lots of meeting rooms. Meanwhile, from the employee perspective is the realization that many jobs don’t have to be done in the office setting or from 9 to 5 and they can actually be structured around family or household obligations. Flexibility reigns in this world.

Time to shape up. Recognizing the sharp financial savings from a healthy workforce, employers will offer additional incentives for workers to adopt healthier lifestyles. If they can shed some medical premium costs with a healthier workforce, they will keep some of that for themselves and actually pay their employees to stay healthy. Incentives from the Affordable Care Act are driving part of this, but studies also show that a healthier workforce is more productive.

As usual, early adopters of these mindsets will have an advantage so that encourages each of us to look at our individual job situations and see what new opportunities or pitfalls loom.

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