2017 trends

HR is an ever-evolving function in business and there are always new trends aiming to perfect the way HR works, save time, manage budget better and drive stronger employee engagement. 

Yet when you’re in the thick of running your own HR team, staying in tune with these sweeping trends can easily become ‘just another thing to think about’.

That’s why we’ve taken some time out to summarise the trends which are likely to dominate HR conversations in 2017, so you can get a head start on planning how your team will integrate these ideas into your New Year strategy:

1. Improving the health and wellbeing of employees

Ensuring a healthy work-life balance for employees is now a standard focus for HR teams and has been one of the biggest movements in HR over the last decade.

Yet, the drive to improve employee engagement and reduce attrition never lets up and this focus is now starting to hone in more closely on how an employee’s health affects their experience of and relationship with work.

Simply put, a healthy employee is more likely to be a happy employee. What’s more, if HR can take active steps to maintain the health and wellbeing of staff, this can contribute to lower absence rates and increased productivity.

That’s why one of the key HR trends we anticipate for 2017 is the wider implementation of health-focussed employee engagement initiatives (e.g. getting involved in national health-awareness events, running one-on-one sessions between employees and healthcare professionals, assigning members of staff to be responsible for monitoring the wellbeing of their team etc.).

By showing employees you have an open-door policy for them to come forward about all aspects of health in the workplace, including very real matters such as work-related stress, your HR team can strengthen the bond between employee and employer by demonstrating genuine care for an individual’s wellbeing. 

2. Social media to form central part of the recruitment process

Almost everyone has social media accounts these days and the practice of HR teams looking at social profiles to get a rounder view of prospective employees is now widely used.

But using social media as a tool in the recruitment process is set to really take off in HR in 2017. HR teams may begin to rely less on a candidate’s honesty and references and instead tap into the world of data now at our fingertips online. However, this practice is not without its risks and pitfalls and HR teams should discuss their methods with their legal advisor to ensure that they are not falling foul of principles on data protection or adopting discriminatory selection processes.

More than that, social media is also the way to go when it comes to advertising new roles. Expect to spend less on job ads and more time monitoring social media posts for interaction for potential candidates.

3. Real-time messaging to give everyone’s ideas a platform

More HR teams than ever are rolling out real-time messaging programmes as a means for employees to contribute ideas about business strategy (1).

Giving employees an ‘ideas forum’ has been standard practice in employee engagement for years. 

Yet, these forums usually take the form of 'top-down' elected committees into which employees are encouraged to feed their ideas. The trouble is, these committees all too often end up being perceived as a “winners circle” amongst the team. 

And with no guarantee an employee’s idea will actually be passed onto key decision makers, this traditional approach to inviting employee feedback is limited in its effectiveness and can even result in the opposite of employee engagement.

Which is why using real-time messaging technology as an alternative is already proving so popular. 

By giving every employee a way to quickly voice their ideas directly to the people who have the power to put them into action –  as well as their peers – this approach encourages social recognition, cuts out the middleman and opens up discussion to the entire team. 

Expect to hear far more about using real-time messaging for employee engagement as we move into 2017.  

4. Performance reviews to get a rethink

Performance reviews, as most of us know them, involve a formulaic review sheet of some description which grade employees based on their overall performance in the last quarter. This is an easy –  if basic –  way to track performance over a length of time, but its 'test-like' and impersonal nature has left the traditional performance review open to increasing criticism.

Not least because it goes against every effort now by HR teams to treat employees as individuals so they can develop meaningful relationships with them. 

That’s why more HR teams than ever are dropping graded performance reviews altogether – often scrapping performance-based bonuses with them – due to the tension they cause between employees.

It gives rise, instead, to conversation-based performance reviews, which rely on comment and discussion with each employee. The 'dressed-down' nature of these types of reviews means employees – who feel a greater sense of ease – are far more likely to speak openly and honestly about their experience at work. Of course, this gives your HR team the fuel they need to act in the true interests of staff.

Prepare for these rising trends ahead of time to ensure your HR team stays well ahead of the curve and that your staff always benefit from the most forward-thinking HR initiatives.

Meanwhile, read here 7 mistakes to avoid as an HR Manager.

(1) Bersin by Deloitte – HR Technology Disruptions for 2017 – http://marketing.bersin.com/hr-technology-disruptions-2017.html

We are the HR and employment law experts from esphr. 

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

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