Industry-Defining HR Trends for 2017: A Series (Part One)

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Mar 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, hiring trends

If you've been following HR trends in past years, you just might be ready to take a break from the change for a while. Massive shift in technology, hiring trends, and workplace expectations have given HR departments a never-ending list of things to deal with in recent years, and the prospect of yet another trend to chase may sound exhausting. 

But in some ways, 2017 is a good year to catch your breath. Or, to put it another way, it's a good year to process all the changes in the industry and find how they affect practical goals, outreach, and strategy. It's a time to step back, and find a new way to think about hiring in a world that's faster and more flexible than ever before. 

So let's take a look at the trends emerging in 2017, and how the industry is slowly settling into a new mold – with more possibilities than we've seen in a long time. 


Performance Reviews Will Never Be the Same 

Performance reviews have revealed a number of flaws in the past decade, many related to new ideas about the workplace and the ideal employee. While performance reviews – the traditional kind, with scales to grade a number of activities and desire behaviors – remain an effective way to manage a very high number of employees with very high turnover, they aren't ideal in the long term- and companies are adopting alternatives instead. 

The worst offenders are annual reviews, which occur far too infrequently to ever make a real difference to the employee or the office – a relic from a time when people actually worked the same job for decades at a time. In today's highly mobile society, where employees shift between companies/industries regularly, the annual review may as well not exist: That's why employers have turned to other options. Highly structured workplaces are embracing regular, more open-ended reviews that take place monthly or biweekly and focus on the unique aspects of each position. More flexible companies are getting rid of the idea of performance reviews entirely, relying on more organic manager relationships and conversations to help drive improvement – along with a work environment that encourages mentoring.  


Employers Embrace a Price 

Online surveys, whether through a free tool, social media feature, or business management platform, have advantages: They're very quick, easy, and they can be sent to all employees at the same time. It's no wonder then why human resources leaders have seized the opportunity to use these polls as an easy way to gauge company opinion and preferences. In other words, companies are now crowdsourcing and collecting a lot of information about what employees want – information that can also be used in demographics and profiles used by HR. 

But this cheap, easy surveying comes with a price: It has to go somewhere. Surveys aren't just a one-way collection of data, they're a two-way form of communication. Companies that ignore this will quickly create a lot of very annoyed employees who believe that they are being taken advantage or being used for the sake of data modeling – or that the company doesn't care what they think at all, and is just trying to appease them. Surveying should always: 

Be connected to a goal or activity that can actually change – in other words, the survey will affect decision making. 

Be relatively rare. Too-frequent surveying can start to feel like a waste of time, and is a sign that it's probably unnecessary. 

Be direct and easy to complete, without asking for personal information. 


Exit Interviews Fuel Retention Modeling Practices 

HR departments have now fully adopted exit interviews as an important part of the hiring process (alert: if your department has not, it is several years late to the party and you have some work to do). One reason is that exit interviews provide a high amount of very usable information on company conditions and employee profiles. That's a little useful when looking at one interview, but exceptionally useful when taking a look at every exit interview in the past year. For large corporations, these exit interviews are so numerous that they can be quickly compiled into data models. 

The final benefit? There are better retention and hiring strategies- an increasingly important topic in a world where a third of new hires leave after six months. HR departments are now able to say, "This is why most of our upper level employees are leveling, this is why we've having problems with entry level turnover, and this is how our competitors compare." It also allows for a lot of exploration into more unique retention issues. For example, if employees who use the company gym membership regularly are more likely to stay with the company, maybe it's time to start an enhanced wellness plan. 

Of course, the key is collecting and using this data correctly instead of letting it sit there, which requires a comfort with modeling that not all HR departments have. Obtaining more data talent may be surprisingly high on the list of 2017 HR goals. 


Recruiters Finally Grow Comfortable With Digital Outreach 

What do potential hires first see when looking at a company? Most likely, social media pages, online reviews (that may or may not be fake), and listings on digital job boards. Today's first impression is all about the internet, and for the most part, talent acquisition teams have finally admitted that now the real work begins. New digital goals include: 

Narrowing down the vast number of tools and apps available to an option that works, can be secured by the company, and that (preferably) can be connected to other popular company platforms. 

Improving online presence with a best practices audit examining how websites, job descriptions, and profiles appear: Getting content online is only the first step. Now companies are learning how to make that content look professional. 

Finding ways to use digital connections for human conversation. Top talent gravitates toward the company that seems the most human – what tools can do that? 

Finding ways to make sure the company is not only online, but a dominant source of information about its own hiring jobs – not a random scattering of online review sites. 


That’s A Wrap For Part One: 

Change is coming and so is the reaction to that change. This may be the year to react to the different landscape and prepare for the future with proactive responses. Nothing these days will be predictable or reliable, but we can do a few things to ease the growing pains.  Make sure you keep the industry experts in your back pocket as your guides of the next few years 

Don't limit yourself to what you don't know.  You're going to need guidance for this year and ICS is the place to go for industry best practices.  Come back soon for a follow up to this article on what else you can expect in 2017.  Whether you need the talent or the knowledge, contact ICS today to work towards a better tomorrow for your company!