4 HR trends to look out for in 2016

17 Jan 16 by
Engagement through-gamification

So, we’ve reached that time of the year when we’re finished with being festive and looking towards the year ahead, wondering what the future may bring.

For the forward-thinking HR director, that means thinking about what trends will be shaping the HR landscape over the next 12 months, so that you can keep your finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the game.

Here are our predictions for HR in 2016:

‘Consumer-like’ HR technology

Huge advances in HR technology are already taking place, but something that will become more common-place next year are HR applications and software that are designed with the end user in mind – your employees.

In a recent report by Deloitte on HR tech in 2016, report author Josh Bersin said that the HR technology market has moved away from systems that make the HR professional’s job easier, to tools that help employees to do things like learn, collaborate, set goals and steer their careers.

“The HR technology market is bursting with new applications that shift the focus towards a more consumer-like experience and away from tools created to streamline the work of HR administration,” said Bersin.

“Imagine an employee application suite that runs on your phone, knows your location, and recommends people with whom to network. It also evaluates time-management aptitude to help improve productivity, automatically assesses work behaviours and offers feedback on improving work-life balance. It even shares exercise and healthy eating tips at the point of need. This is where HR technology is going and we’re getting there a lot faster than you might think.” (1)

Simplified performance management

The performance management debate has been gathering pace this year, with many organisations beginning to see the benefit of simplifying the process and making it more agile.

A survey by Towers Watson found that just 36% of companies feel their performance management process is effective, while one in three managers and employees are dissatisfied with the process.

The research also revealed that most organisations are planning to change or develop their current performance management programme, to enhance their impact. (2)

Next year, the focus may shift from stressful, ineffective annual appraisals to ongoing conversations that include regular feedback that is fairer, objective and fit for purpose.

Games-based HR

For businesses looking for new ways to attract, motivate and retain employees, gamification is one strategy that will continue to be popular throughout 2016. In fact, the global gamification market is set to reach $5.5 billion by 2018. (3)

Essentially, gamification is designed to boost employee engagement by taking the concept of a fun, competitive game and applying it to non-game activities, such as learning and development, recruitment, and performance management.

For example, HR could use gamification to improve performance by using leader boards, challenges, points and badges related to the desired behaviours and outcomes you want, with individuals progressing to different levels and receiving real-time feedback on their performance.

According to a recent survey, 78% of workers were using game-based motivation at work, while 91% said that gaming improved their work experience by increasing engagement, awareness and productivity – so it’s definitely one to watch. (4)

HR will become more scientific

A Deloitte report this year found that HR data and analytics is key to solving many HR challenges, such as engagement, leadership and recruitment. (5)

“Companies that excel in talent and HR analytics can be positioned to out-compete and out-perform their peers in the coming years,” the report said.

HR analytics really made its mark this year, but if you want that competitive edge in 2016, you are going to have to get scientific and embrace big data, to gain insight into the workforce trends that can be crucial to your company’s bottom line.

In a survey by CareerBuilder, 90% of CEOs said it is ‘important’ that HR leaders be proficient in workforce analytics, while 35% considered it to be ‘absolutely essential’. (6)

Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, said that HR is the “new frontier for data science applications in business”, and that HR teams must adopt “data-driven, competitive approaches”.


These were just a selection of some of the trends set to hit the HR headlines next year. Take note of them now so that you can be one step ahead in 2016.

Discover more about how the trends of 2016 could be shaping your business. Click here to download our 2016 HR Trends Report.


  1. HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions on the Horizon, Bersin by Deloitte, October 2015
  2. Performance Management Pulse Survey, Towers Watson, November 2015
  3. Gamification Market, MarketsandMarkets, June 2013
  4. Gamification survey, Badgeville, July 2015
  5. Human Capital Trends, Deloitte, 2015
  6. CareerBuilder survey, July 2015