In preparation for my upcoming keynote speeches in 2017, I spent a great deal of time this January researching the most prominent trends occurring, and burgeoning, in the Human Resources sector. As a direct outgrowth of this research, I thought it would be valuable to share the most likely continued trends and predictions in Human Resources for 2017. Here are the top five, in order of magnitude and strength:
1. Culture and Employee Engagement Will Continue to be the Top Priorities for Most Organizations
The continued challenges with talent attraction and retention will keep Culture and Employee Engagement front and center, as highlighted previously by the premier research studies conducted by the SHRM & Deloitte in 2016.
2. The Learning and Development Function Will Continue to be a Challenge
Top-down L&D approaches and rigid training models are simply not working in today’s fast-paced work environments. While the past was all about instructor-led training classes and web-based e-learning platforms, the current and future workforce will continue demanding next-generation training that is more personalized, engaging, and mobile. As such, today’s Chief Learning Officers must reinvent both themselves and how they offer training, to fully leverage L&D as a strategic business asset.
Also, to succeed in this transformation, a greater emphasis will be placed on establishing learning metrics that matter strategically.
Lastly, Digital HR & Learning will greatly assist in redesigning L&D and HR Systems.
3. Telecommuting Will Continue to Expand
The trend towards hiring remote workers and letting people work from home will continue to accelerate for two seminal reasons.
First, as mentioned frequently in the press, the clear evidence of the benefits of telecommuting are very compelling. More and more managers are embracing the statistical ROI-based proof that working from home makes sense for both employer and worker. As a great example, having a good Work From Home (WFH) policy is linked to lower absenteeism and higher engagement. In addition, a Gallup study proved that not only do virtual employees work an average of four hours longer per work week than people who go to the company site, they are also more engaged (32% versus 28% engaged). Thus, with this in mind, it’s not surprising that 82 percent of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” already have virtual work policies.
Second, the ability to work from home can also be a powerful way to attract top talent, especially Millennials, who highly value autonomy and scheduling flexibility.
4. Diversity & Inclusion and Unconscious Bias Will Get Greater Emphasis as Top Priorities
The topic of diversity has been on the HR agenda for a long time. Once considered a compliance program, it has evolved wonderfully into a successful business strategy. In fact, CEOs and company brands are now impacted by an organization’s gender and racial diversity.
The topics of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) have also escalated in importance because of the current political climate and the recent presidential election in the U.S. Employees and leaders are surrounded by these D&I issues, and honestly, many people are rightfully concerned.
In addition, the topic of Unconscious Bias has, and will, continue to become a greater priority and point of discussion, with more and more organizations scrutinizing their interview questions and hiring processes to ensure fairness and equity.
5. Real-time Feedback and Quicker Analytics Will Continue to Expand
This brings me to my last prediction. Fueled by the need to improve employee engagement, and the continuous need to measure and improve employee productivity, real-time feedback and analytics will hit the ceiling. The real-time feedback tools market has already exploded and is growing at roughly 100% each year.1 Many of the newest performance and talent management software tools now include: live feedback streams, pulse surveys, real-time quantitative analytics, analysis of qualitative text (write-in comments grouped by topic), action-planning programs, and peer-to-peer feedback and recognition platforms.
For 2017, more and more companies will build or refine their strategies to automate the entire range of employee experiences, from pre-hire and recruiting through: onboarding, performance feedback and reviews, ongoing and more frequent employee engagement feedback, and exit surveys.
In summary, 2017 will be a critical year for Human Resources, as more and more companies face the challenges and opportunities that come with talent attraction, talent retention, skill gaps, technology, diversity & inclusion, and increased mobility. There has never been a better time for Human Resources & Talent Management Leaders to step up and show they will rise to the occasion.
Source 1: Deloitte Development LLC Internal Research Report, 2016