You’ve just gotten through the human resources year-end marathon, a milestone event unto itself. With barely a moment to kick back and exhale, you’re now faced with looking ahead at the New Year and what’s coming your HR way.
As I offer my virtual high-five’s for crossing the finish line in December, here are 7 HR trends you’ll want to keep an eye on this year.
- Improving the employee experience. All too often we hear companies say “People are our number one asset”. It’s no longer something to brag about. It’s an expectation. Overall, are our employees really seeing that on the job?
It’s something to give attention to for many reasons. One of them being low unemployment rates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports December, 2017 stats at 4.1% and predicts a small decline from there in 2018. Naturally, this gives employees an edge. It creates more competition for their talent. And, when employee pools are limited, it favors the employee. it puts them in position to ask for more or think about looking elsewhere. Add into the mix, constant innovations in technology to source, engage and attract job candidates.
Tip: Start the process by tuning into employee feedback and listening to what’s not only on their “need” list but what’s on their “wish” list. Focus on employees as unique individuals journeying through your company to design a more people-friendly, efficient work environment.
- Focus on health & wellbeing. Employers are taking a deeper look at employee performance. They’re realizing when things are off at work, it’s because they may be impacted by what’s happening at home or outside the work environment. When employees are under stress, it leads to illness, higher healthcare costs, burnout, absenteeism and inefficient work. Employers are implementing a “whole person” approach to help them decrease what may be stressing their employees and chipping away from their happiness and productivity on the job.
Employers are implementing programs for financial planning, tuition assistance, stress management, mindfulness, and paid time off for volunteering. There is an increasing understanding of mental health issues at work which is making it easier for employees to ask for help. All this adds up to a new era of employer supported wellness. After all, happier and healthier employees are more productive and stay longer.
- Rising Artificial Intelligence (AI). While we’re not sitting across from a robot just yet, most of us have been touched by AI already. Example: ever use a chatbot in the lower corner of a website to ask questions? That’s AI.
Being somewhat behind, HR technology is catching up. We’ll see more AI in human resources this year for uses like decreasing bias in recruiting. AI can ignore backgrounds and key words, generate more effective interview questions centered on the specific position, and perform assessments of job skills and suitability. It can also provide employee coaching and greatly improve responsiveness to employees, through you guessed it – chatbots. How does this impact the HR professional? See trend #4!
- Redesigning jobs. With AI eliminating tasks and improving work efficiencies, the role and job function of the HR professional will be changing. HR can and should focus on the uniqueness of the employee and the design of the position in the company. HR will be called upon for expertise on redesigning jobs and their functions, and guidance for reaching the right blend between man and machine.
Eliminating mundane aspects of jobs through AI, leaves more time for organizational creativity and new opportunities inside companies. As a result, it will be essential to look ahead and plan. HR will need to identify jobs that may be effected and the employees who hold them, plus looking at how well these employees will adapt, innovate and aspire in a redesigned job.
Jobs that require elements of interpersonal communication, management, trouble-shooting, inventiveness, and empathy will future proof some positions as AI shifts the way we work.
- Uptick in job flexibility. Who doesn’t want more flexibility with their job? Having workstyle options continues to be extremely appealing to employees. With today’s technology, why not consider a flexible program?
Being able to work remotely or with accommodating hours/days is not only very effective at keeping internal employees satisfied, it’s very attractive to job candidates. This offering can mean more than money to any employee.
Job flexibility works nicely to support health and wellness/work-live balance initiatives. It eases the monotony of a set work schedule, eliminates the stress of commuting, and facilitates child/eldercare responsibilities. Importantly, it gives a sense of freedom and shows employees are trusted to work independently.
- Keep on Learning. Are we ever done learning? The answer is “no”. New laws, new technologies, and fluctuations in consumer behavior continue to challenge companies to maintain a relevant, profitable workforce. With AI and changing job designs, the need for cross-training also factor in to ongoing employee learning.
No longer restricted to classrooms, large groups or full scale training courses, employee training has gotten much more accessible and robust. Literally, training is now at our fingertips and it brings with it huge advantages of consistency and ease of access.
Micro-learning is gaining traction. It provides the benefit of right-sized learning so employees learn exactly what they need to know when they need to know it. This type of targeted learning is on the rise.
At onboardia, we’ve designed a platform focused on aiding companies to blend technology with training to create customized micro-learning environments.
- Expanding sexual harassment policies and training. 2017 did for sexual harassment awareness what McDonalds’s has done for take-out hamburgers. It was a year of explosive headlines and allegations of conduct unbecoming on the job. Needless to say, there’s a bright spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace like never before.
Companies will need to assess how well they’re guarding against sexual harassment, enabling employees to bring forth a complaint, investigate and resolve claims. Policies and training will need to be extended to address inclusion of women. It’s now a concern that it may just seem easier to exclude women from certain situations because it may minimize the risk of sexual harassment by men. No women, no problem – WRONG!!
More state and local laws on sexual harassment at work will expand coverage to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. We’ll possibly see the elimination of non-disclosure agreements when cases are settled as well.
Overall, the keywords for 2018 in HR are “corporate culture”, “employee experience” and “technology”, all overlapping the other as we move into the future of work. Some trends may be closer at hand; others may not be as far off as you think. It pays to plan ahead and consider what this year’s trends can mean for you in your role as an HR professional, your company and your employees.