HR Trends and the Workplace in 2017

By now you’re done glancing in the rearview mirror as 2016 recedes behind you, and you’re fully focused on your career ahead. Whether you are a team leader thrilled with your current position, in full-on job search mode, or curious about opportunities down the road, it’s always smart to have the lay of the land — and an awareness that the world of work is constantly shifting. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the top workplace and hiring trends for 2017 to help you get your bearings.

The Digital Workplace is Here

Of course, digital products and services have been around for quite some time, but today almost everything we do at work and at home can be connected to a digital tool. Exhibit A: A smart hairbrush recently unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show listens for hair breakage and sends analytics to an app to help improve your hair care choices. Digital is truly everywhere. While there’s no need to follow your follicle trends (unless you want to), it’s important to understand, manage and embrace the benefits of the digital tools available for the workplace.

With mobile devices, e-mail, Twitter and Linkedin, people are now connected with work around the clock. While it seems as if we are always working, some research indicates a decline in employee engagement and productivity in recent years. This year, employees, managers and HR departments are expected to use digital tools to mitigate workplace stresses rather than compound them. For instance, adopting new work management platforms that also encourage scheduling time for personal wellness, restorative downtime and sleep. Some companies are also upgrading their HR systems so employees can manage expenses, schedule training, track time and get tech support as seamlessly as they can order a car on their phone.2

Organizations Elevate and Integrate HR

HR departments are no longer expected to keep a company running smoothly behind the scenes. The role of human resources is expanding to include strategizing about employee benefits, improving company branding, conducting workforce planning and providing training for the future. Talent acquisition’s job doesn’t end at onboarding, but continues into maintaining a skilled, engaged and satisfied workforce, which is now understood as crucial to organizational and business success. To help manage these expanded responsibilities, recruiters and HR professionals are using digital and non-digital tactics to facilitate screening, improve diversity, enhance candidate experience and boost employee development.3

Overall Employee Experience Matters

This isn’t new, but the importance of the comprehensive experience of employees and prospective employees continues to grow. Companies can’t create a lunch-hour employee yoga program, offer greater workday flexibility, or construct an inviting breakroom and consider the employee experience well managed. Those are all valuable offerings, but a worker’s experience goes beyond the physical workplace or a single program offering. Today’s workers want to feel they are being viewed as individuals, the work they do is appreciated, and the organization is helping facilitate that throughout their tenure with the company. For example, companies can benefit by offering varied, ongoing, university-type learning experiences, rather than one-off workshops. This way employees have ownership of their learning and know the company respects their workload and deadlines.4

More Tools to Improve Diversity, Inclusion and Pay Parity

Research confirms that highly-inclusive businesses are more successful and more nimble in the face of a rapidly-changing world. Companies have been striving (and struggling) for years to achieve greater diversity. But in recent years, many organizations have committed to transparency in their employment diversity to ensure accountability and accelerate change. Also, new digital assessment tools are becoming available that uncover unconscious bias in hiring processes, management teams and leadership development.5

Traditional Benefits Still Matter

While unique employee perks, such as pet-friendly offices, will continue to be important, they aren’t as important as classic compensation such as health insurance, vacation time and 401(k) matches. A 2016 study by Glassdoor found the traditional benefits had the greatest influence on employee satisfaction with their company’s perk offerings. The issue with employee discounts, parental leave, and pet-welcoming offices is they don’t enfold the entirety of the workforce, where more traditional benefits will assuredly be appreciated by all employees. In the Glassdoor research, health insurance coverage had the greatest impact on employee satisfaction with a benefits package.6

Employee Feedback Goes Real-time

Employee reviews, engagement assessments and performance are no longer relegated to a yearly or even monthly schedule. Some companies are adopting weekly “pulse surveys” for employee feedback. When organizations are open to frequent input from employees on a large and rapid scale, important issues and valuable ideas emerge that are often forgotten before annual reviews. Digital performance management tools also enable companies to seek instant feedback about targeted issues, such as the value of a regular meeting, employee sentiment about company culture or ideas for the redesign of an office.7

The ancient maxim “the only thing constant in life is change” is well suited to the worlds of work and recruiting today. Individuals must be flexible in the face of rapid-fire tech advances, an increasingly diverse workforce and a never-ending flood of data. And organizations must ensure the constant changes are improving employee communication, productivity and happiness — because ultimately it’s good for business.

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Sources Cited

1 Foroohar, Rana. “We’re Working Harder Than Ever, So Why is Productivity Plummeting?” Time. Web. 24 Aug 2016.
2 Bersin, Josh. “Viewpoint: Trends and Predictions for 2017 and a Brief Look Back at 2016.” Society for Human Resource Management. Web. 21 Dec 2016.
3 Ignatova, Maria. “New Report Reveals the Trends That Will Define Recruiting in 2017.” LinkedIn Talent Blog. Web. 3 Oct 2017.
4 “Predictions for 2017: Everything is Becoming Digital.” Research Report. Bersin by Deloitte. Web. Accessed, 5 Jan 2016.
5 Ibid
6 Chamberlain, Andrew and Tian, Gloria. “Which Benefits Drive Employee Satisfaction?” Glassdoor. Research Studies. Web. 2 June 2016.
7 “Predictions for 2017: Everything is Becoming Digital.” Research Report. Bersin by Deloitte. Web. Accessed, 5 Jan 2016.

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