Six HR Trends You Should Know About―And Act On―Now

By Dan Harrison, PhD - November 05, 2018

It’s often said that “the only constant in business is change” and it remains true―particularly  in human resources. Constant business disruption, advancing technology, and new employment models are only several factors calling for stronger HR practice. The rapid pace of change is putting pressure on all aspects of HR: from the role it plays in the business, through to back end systems and functions. 

Perceptyx is the primary people analytics and global survey provider to more than 20% of the Fortune 100. We recently met with many of these companies in a bi-annual Client Advisory Council to discuss trends and the unique needs of large enterprises. The exercise revealed a number of consistent themes of importance to HR and, by extension, to all types and sizes of companies. This post will focus on summarizing these core HR trends.  

Data Management And Analytics Figure Prominently In HR Trends

Better Integration Of Data For Greater Predictive Power

Businesses currently collect large amounts of data about their employees―through surveys and performance reviews, skill and training data, and more―but this information typically resides in different places within organizations. To take advantage of the opportunities offered by the full predictive power of the data being collected, it needs to be better integrated.

Integration of data reveals the big picture and offers a better understanding of all the different factors affecting metrics such as productivity and engagement. While this doesn’t necessarily mean all data sets should be combined into a single spot, it does indicate the need to assess the various data streams to see which ones should be connected or combined to better guide organizational decision-making. Starting with the broader HR and talent strategy is the obvious first step, but organizations need to cascade that thinking into a talent analytics and data plan that helps address business questions.

Smart people analytics can help keep your business ahead of the curve. See how you can get maximum predictive power from survey data with a demo from Perceptyx.

Emerging Importance Of Data Science In HR

Following this need for better data integration is a need for HR who are: a) business savvy b) deeply understand the industries they serve including workforce challenges, and c) can effectively leverage data to help inform and solve business problems.

To support access to predictive and insightful data analysis, there is a growing need to equip HR with data scientists to help deal with large volumes of data. However, rather than deploying a team of data professionals to address these opportunities, it is important that the approach be integrated and aligned. On the one hand, many data professionals are great with descriptive and predictive models, but fail to have a deep understanding of talent and organizational development principles. On the other hand, HR professionals bring the context and understanding of the business, yet have trouble understanding the sheer scale of opportunities as it relates to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Collectively, both groups need to work in a coordinated way to fully realize the potential, enabling the department to be more firmly positioned at the strategic table.

The Total Employee Experience And Effective Management Of Talent Are Major Themes In HR Trends

Equating Employee Experience To Customer Experience

Organizations are now investing heavily in the total employee experience to stand out in the war for talent. Borrowing from approaches aimed at improving the customer experience, companies are using those to create  an environment that attracts, enables, and retains its key talent. Such approaches emphasize employee flexibility, and contrast the traditional “one size fits all” approach. This means that HR are increasingly taking an employee centered approach focused on providing the optimal working conditions and experiences that maximize engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

While all organizations are different, thinking about the employee experience generally begins with defining the moments that matter across the total journey. This starts even before the hiring process (the brand and value proposition to attract talent), continuous through the hiring processes and onboarding, right through to alumni programs to keep talent engaged even after they leave. While engagement remains an important metric, thinking about the total employee experience has forced organizations to think about outcomes of success at every stage of the journey (onboarding, during employment, and exit). Engagement sits alongside metrics such as well-being, work-life balance, benefits, and the physical work environment. Today’s organizations are spending more time in designing the employee experience, while creating people analytics and survey strategy to keep abreast of how to improve it.

Acquiring And Managing Talent To Address Disruption

While change is nothing new, the pace is accelerating. As summarized in McKinsey Global Institute’s Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions In A Time Of Automation, our clients are seeing first hand how technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence are impacting workforce planning and talent deployment.  Organizations are now extending their approach to also consider how roles will be changed on the basis of artificial intelligence and improved automation. Such changes also present some challenges for organizations as they consider how existing workers can be reskilled in new areas of the business.

Rapid Teaming And The Informal Organizational Structure

Traditional hierarchies continue to be blown apart in the search for better workforce models that allow for creativity and innovation. Bringing teams of people together, who are otherwise insular and disconnected, allows for novel and unique problems to be solved. While the notion of “rapid teaming” across departments is not new, there remain challenges in how these principles are deployed. .

Rapid teaming allows for a more flexible organization design, but must be supported by organizational processes, tools, and policies that allow and encourage it, such as ways to identify talent and easily assemble teams. Existing policies, pay, and other aspects of the employer/employee relationship may vary considerably depending on where workers are located. From managers who are reluctant to lose key staff, through to challenges inherent in bringing people together from different geographic areas, it remains an important opportunity to solve.

Flexible Work Models And The Gig Economy

Another related issue centers around the contingent workforce―temporary, contract, and part-time workers. In the past, businesses typically treated these workers differently than their full-time workforce. But as the makeup of the workforce changes and the gig economy continues to progress, these employees are becoming increasingly important to employers. Previously, contingent workers were often not included in surveys; it is now becoming apparent to employers that the contingent workforce needs to be set up for success in the same way as full-time workers.

Looking for a partner to help put you ahead of the curve on emerging HR trends?

At Perceptyx, we’ve helped the biggest names in business address some of the biggest issues in HR. Through survey design and insightful data analytics that zero in on the most important issues concerning workforce strengths, weaknesses, and engagement, we help businesses plan for the future, rather than react to the changing business landscape. Contact Perceptyx today and see what we can do to help your business address these emerging HR trends—and gain the insights needed for agility to respond to constant change.

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