HR Trends to Keep an Eye On In 2018



Looking back over the last years’ trend reports it is easy to see we are in the middle of implementing and living with many of the trends that were accurately predicted to dominate the HR scene. A few years back trend reports said everything was going mobile and that traditional org charts were fading away. Last year we wrote about AI, the importance of digitalization in HR, agile ways of working, and the increasingly important collaboration between man and machine. So, what do we see on the horizon for 2018? Here´s a selection of trends to keep an eye on.

    1. Fewer People in the HR Teams
      The number of jobs in HR will decrease, as the level of automation increases. The majority of people in HR will work in HR service. HR will still be an important profession and an integral part of organizational transformation as well as a key player in driving the strategic HR agenda. However, the majority of HR professionals will work in service centers with a higher degree of specialization in their roles, than what we see today among the many HR generalists working spread across the business.
    1. Employee Intimacy
      The last years’ efforts to transform HR into a strategic business partner has come to a point where HR in many cases has become too strategic and close to top management, and lost the closeness to the employees. Really understanding the wishes, needs and capabilities of employees is getting more important, and this employee intimacy is required to design relevant employee journeys. HR needs to regain closeness to the employees where the real action happens.
    1. People Analytics and Productivity
      Traditionally, capacity problems have been solved by recruiting new people rather than focusing more on productivity. When you need many people, it is difficult to apply very stringent selection criteria. Because you compromise on quality, and because if you grow you generally need more coordination mechanisms (often management), productivity goes down. We see a renewed focus on productivity where fewer people are hired and new innovative and productive ways of working are implemented instead. People analytics play an increasingly important role in determining what the characteristics are of the best performing people and teams, as well as in decision making in recruitment, team, organization and leadership development.
    1. Power to the People
      Many organisations are still used to work in a top-down way. In those organisations, also HR finds it difficult to approach issues in a different way. But employees have already long ago started taking more initiative of their own, independent of what the organization as a whole does. E.g. the use of apps such as WhatsApp or Slack are implemented for more easy communication in teams, feedback apps are used to strengthen feedback culture in individual teams and if a manager wants to survey his or her part of the organization they do it with independent survey providers rather than wait for the annual employee survey. Important for HR is to tap onto this flow and follow them rather than to push the company “approved” channels. The employees have the power here, just as your customers have on your external market, and they decide in what channel or on what platform they spend their time, to serve their purpose.
    1. The end of Static, Fixed Jobs
      The slow shift has been going on for years now. The Tayloristic organisation, where everybody has a clearly defined and assigned job, often does not work so well. The jobs become more flexible, and employees get the opportunity to craft their own job, to make the best fit with their wishes, needs and capabilities. The successful organizations will be those that are good at building teams through networks, where assignment and process are matched to the desires and capabilities of people tied to the organization. Teams are no longer built up with people with fixed, static jobs, but with people with specific capabilities needed to deliver on specific assignments – no matter if they are employees, customers, suppliers or independent consultants and contractors.
    1. HR as a Service Profession
      The trend of consolidating back end functions and achieving cost efficiencies through shared service centers continues, and HR remains one of the functions included in a typical service center. For HR Operations to be able to deliver high value, we need to see a shift in how HR operations views the rest of the organization. They should be treated as customers whose demands, needs and desires need to be understood and met. Staffing an HR service center will likely require a new type of profile of the people it employs, where service and hospitality are key and where the focus on delivering service is much greater than we see today. A top-notch HR service center is super important for a company’s ability to deliver great employee and candidate experiences, and availability, professionalism and service level will be key success factors.
    1. Learning in Real Time
      The learning domain has been slow in using the opportunities offered by technology. Loads of money is still wasted on classroom training for groups of employees on very broad subjects, often not directed at immediate application, but for possible future use. There are signs this is changing. Big chunks of material are divided in more digestible small pieces (micro learning). Employees will have easy access to learning material when they need it (just in time). Knowledge and skills can be learned in a playful manner (gamification), and VR and AR learning solutions make learning more real (and fun). The learning experience can be tailored to the individual capabilities and needs of employees.
    1. Know Your Talents Better Than They Know Themselves
      Data driven approach to talent management is gaining more and more ground. While analyzing talent should be the basis for every development initative aimed at this group, talent management also needs to be more focused on today, rather than look to far into the future if you want your talent to stick around. They need to feel they are high potentials like you say they are, and they need to be given real and concrete challenges in a more speedy manner, where their skills and talents are put to the test. Talent analytics and data informed decision making will ensure you know your talents better than they know themselves. You will be able to keep track of the capabilities your talents develop, and quickly be able to match them with the opportunities surfacing in the company, and thereby quickly be able to give your top talents the stretch roles and assignment they need to continue to grow and thrive.


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