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9 Piping Hot HR Trends For 2018

Through our lengthy discussions with HR influencers, monthly Perkbox Live events and regular webinars, we’ve spent 2017 with our ears fixed firmly to the ground of human resources.

Some topics have arisen more than others during these conversations. Many are burgeoning practices that would mean nothing if explained to a seasoned practitioner just five years ago, others are innovative new approaches to fixing old problems.

Having typed up our notes and measured them for hot air, we narrowed down eight trends that will enter your radar in 2018 – if they haven’t already done so.

Wellness
2018 will see HR take a more considered approach to wellness. Catalysing this trend is a combination of state intervention – such as the Government’s recent Thriving at Work report and the latest regulations introduced for employment in the gig economy – and a collective openness to discussing issues that have too long been considered taboo.

As well as the more obvious areas of wellness – such as mental and physical – employers are now realising their responsibility in their people’s financial and emotional wellness.

Our recent article examines the simple steps HR can take today to manage mental wellness at work.

Agile HR
For the last 20 years, the Agile framework has been transforming the way organisations approach new projects. Agile isn’t a technology, strategy or tactic – it’s a mindset. One that makes teams more versatile and nimble, and provides rapid answers in uncertain times.

While automation technology has enabled departments like sales and marketing to transform with agility, HR can still be compliance-driven and process heavy – but this is beginning to change.

We recently published an ebook on the topic, in which we speak to a few pretty impressive practitioners from Cisco and Sky who believe Agile will soon be the norm for HR.

Workplace productivity
Economic productivity has made the front page of every serious newspaper since the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget. The lion’s share of debate has been about infrastructure, investment, and Brexit – all hugely important factors, of course, but productivity starts closer to home.

The challenge is linking economic productivity with workplace culture, and it’s something HR can directly influence. Britain needs a revolution in working culture, management thinking and employee engagement, if productivity is to be boosted.

As a starter for ten, HR are already saving millions by using people analytics to focus on hiring the right people, not more people. Speaking of which…

People analytics
Like the sales and marketing functions, HR is becoming a data-driven force with the power to make businesses money. Next year will see another influx of talented analytical professionals enter the space – and of course further advances in the HR tech they use.

As a result, HR will become even more sophisticated in the way it measures people. Streamlining the collection, interpretation and application of data will help organisations improve workplace planning, talent management, recruitment and retention.

Yup, we’ve covered this one too. And again, it’s full of people from the likes of Levi Strauss & Co and Staffline Group who know what they’re talking about.

Brexit preparations
The UK is on course to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Businesses in the firing line will need to formulate strategies to deal with the consequences. Larger organisations are already building Brexit committees of stakeholders in HR and recruitment, and validating their employee data.

International trade in the services industries relies on staff mobility. HR departments in affected industries should review their EVPs with financial, physical and emotional wellbeing in mind, because these are the areas that will attract talent in the wake of Brexit.

Workplace design
Workplace design challenges HR to think strategically about physical working environments. The lavish office interiors of a few tech firms has put the topic on the foosball table. And there’s method in their madness – physical environments have the power to increase wellness and productivity. Nature, for example, is known to have a profound impact on humans.

A study of hospital patients recovering from gallbladder surgery found those whose rooms looked out onto a brick wall needed an extra day to recover than those who overlooked nature. Doctors’ notes also said the former suffered more pain and depression.

We’ve long known that environments can mobilise communities, assist learning and shape behaviour. In 2018, more HR teams will connect their people’s internal drivers with external environments.

On demand training
Employees of all generations want to learn and develop professionally. And organisations in their turn are realising that upskilling can be an economically advantageous alternative to recruiting. In-person training will always be hugely valuable, but isn’t without faults. Sessions are often expensive and time-consuming, while digital learning provides flexibility.

With the accessibility of learning management systems (or, LMS – another for your growing arsenal of acronyms), on demand training is being made increasingly easy for HR to provide. Trainees can engage when suits them, breaking larger schemes into smaller modules.

Employee experience
Employee experience is the sum total of every interaction an employee has with an organisation’s brand, from recruitment onwards. By asking questions about how candidates are finding organisations and their existing perceptions of the brands, HR is able to identify what drives employee loyalty and brand advocacy.

This is another area where HR is becoming like marketing (yes, we’ve realised). Marketers scrupulously measure customer experience, and build brand advocates through personalisation, targeting, and communication. HR practitioners can cultivate their own employee experiences by focusing on culture, environment, and technology such as apps and e-learning software.

Accessibility of artificial intelligence (… possibly?)
It’s a topic that makes eyes widen and roll in almost equal measure. On the one hand it’s the silver bullet for streamlining processes and automating tasks, on the other it’s a buzzword surrounded by more vagueness than Brexit – which really is saying something.

Whether or not it’ll be on your 2018 to-do list depends hugely on the nature of your organisation. IBM estimates that in 2018, 62% of enterprises will be using AI to automate laborious tasks and reduce human biases around recruitment. While SMBs can use the same benefits on a smaller level, the general consensus is that we’ve just scratched the surface of AI.

Let’s reconvene this time next year to find out.

- By Oliver, at Perkbox.

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