We're looking at several important changes for human resources in 2017: Here's a breakdown of what to expect, and why these changes matter.
Automation Redefines Hiring Practices
This time it's not about automation within HR, which has already transformed recruitment process, but rather automation outside the department that's changing human resources for good. In 2017 we're going to see even more automation, from factory software that replaces workers to chatbots that replace customer reps. As a result, skillsets will become increasingly specific and well-defined – the "talent" in talent acquisition will become sharply defined, and more necessary than ever.
Workplace Education Becomes Vital
It's not enough to assume employees will learn new skills themselves, and impractical to assign every new hire a mentor to walk them through the business. Due to important security requirements, digital platform updates, and newfound project flexibility, employees must continually adopt new practices throughout their role in the company.
Naturally, this is changing the sort of programs and training processes that companies are creating. But the trend has a special meaning for recruitment: It is shifting focus to hiring "learners," or those recruits that are curious about their position and the company. New goals for hiring will include an aptitude for absorbing new information, asking questions, and exploring available resources. Along with this, companies will be providing more flexible training options for their new employees, replacing the "orientation" phase with continuous training classes and more in-depth explanations about how the company functions. Along with this, finding ways to fill in gaps through freelance work and third party recruiters will grow more common.
HR Departments Live or Die by Digital Platforms
It's easy to argue that digital platforms have already revolutionized the average HR department. But 2017 will be the year that digital solutions replace old HR activities in increasing ways. That includes mobile apps, chat tolls, cloud-based collaboration, social media surveys, and more – all directly involved not only in employee functions, but also in the recruitment process itself.
These communication capabilities are changing the nature of HR departments, and sometimes removing the need for a separate recruitment staff altogether. Human resources strategies that do not include digital solutions like these will not only fall behind, they will become obsolete.
Diversity Becomes Part of the Brand
"Diversity hires" is a phrase almost guaranteed to give HR managers a headache, no matter what their own diversity goals may be. But we're seeing a shift in how diversity is viewed: Companies are beginning to move away from rigid views on diversity, and instead are incorporating diversity as part of their brand as a tool for talent acquisition. The new goal will be to position a company as a place where there are fulfilling positions for all ages, genders, races, etc. – each utilizing the skills natural to that demographic. It's a challenging – and exciting – concept!
Performance Metrics Lose Luster
Strict performance metrics are already under fire for getting in the way of proper training, tying compensation to inappropriate measurements, and simply taking up too much time. Outside of very high turnover companies (where some performance ratings are usually require just to manage such a fluid workforce), performance reviews are being replaced with other options. The most popular new solution is a more holistic review that includes work/life balance, ongoing training, workplace relationships, and unique goals for each employee – another series of interesting challenges for HR.
Companies Customize Environments
Work environments shift based on company ideas about work space...which can prove off the wall at times. In the past several years company ides about work environments have ranged from, "Let's make everything open plan to save money" to, "Cubicles increase efficiency, so let's use more of the them."
The results, as HR programs can attest, have been equally mixed. Open floor plans may save money and encourage a "flatter" organization, but they can also be noisy and distracting. More cubicles can feel confining and boring, and often lead to increasingly small work areas. New furniture tends to focus more on appearance than comfort or function. However, as these problems have emerged, we're finally seeing more companies go through HR to ask employees directly, "All right, what kind of workspace would you like?"
The answer has been, in summary, "All kinds," and that's what companies will be working towards in 2017. We're going to see a rise in hybrid workplaces with both open floors and quiet, more confined areas so employees can pick the most productive space. We're also looking at a rise in distance and home work arrangements, and a general focus on flexibility regarding employee location. HR will need to deal with these changes by incorporating "place" choices as a part of recruitment and orientation.
More Rigorous Data Models for Employee Improvement
Another trend we're seeing is what we think of as the "data model" approach to performance ratings. HR will be called upon to create a data model that examines individual steps in employee responsibilities, and allows for clearer ratings. Employees can then be scored at each step with various metrics that give precise information on where they struggle, where they excel, and what type of improvements will be beneficial. This is a relatively new application of data models, still untested in many ways, so we expect 2017 to be filled with experimentation and the formation of best practices for this data-heavy approach.