HR Trends for 2018

1. From PTB (Please the Boss) to EI (Employee Intimacy)

HR has focused too much on pleasing top management, and forgot to develop one of the other key roles. The tide is slowly turning, from PTB (please the boss) to EI (employee intimacy). Really understanding the wishes, needs and capabilities of employees is getting more important, and this employee intimacy is required to design relevant employee journeys.

Renewed focus on productivity

In the last years, there has not been a lot of focus on productivity. We see a slow change at the horizon. Traditionally, capacity problems have been solved by recruiting new people. This has led to several problems. When you need many people, it is difficult to apply very stringent selection criteria. Because you compromise on quality, and because if you grow you generally need more coordination mechanisms (often management), productivity goes down. When focusing more on productivity, the benefits for the organisation and the employees can be big. You need to hire less people, and the potential of the employees is better used. People analytics can help to determine what the characteristics are of the best performing people and teams. The findings can be used in recruitment and in people and team development.

Power to the people (or: Bring your own everything)

Many organisations are still used to work in a top-down way. In those organisations, also HR finds it difficult to approach issues in a different way. Performance management is a good example. Changing the performance management process is often tackled as an organisation wide issue, and HR needs to find the new uniform solution. In line with the trend called “the consumerisation of HR” employees are expected to take more initiative, being tired of waiting for the organisation and HR, and wanting to be more independent of organisational initiatives.

The end of fixed jobs

The slow shift has been going on for years now. The Tayloristic organisation, where everybody has a clearly defined and assigned job, often does not work so well. Especially when the assignments are not so clearly defined, more flexibility is required. The jobs become more flexible, and employees get the opportunity to craft their own job, to make the best fit with their wishes, needs and capabilities. Some organisations go beyond job crafting. When there is an assignment, there is a process to look at the capabilities (qualitative and quantitative) required for this specific assignment. The wishes, needs and capabilities of people connected to the organisation are known, or captured as part of the process. A team is established, where the availability of people and the requirements of other teams must be considered. Teams are not build of people with specific fixed jobs, but of people who have specific skills that are needed to deliver the assignment. People with broad skill sets, can use certain skills in Team A, and other skills in Team B at their next assignment. The leader of Team A, who has specific skills in building new teams, might be the agile coach in Team B, as she is also very good in agile coaching. In this new situation, it is not possible to assign static job names to people.

Learning in real time

The learning domain has been slow in using the opportunities offered by technology. Loads of money is still wasted on classroom training for groups of employees on very broad subjects, often not directed at immediate application, but for possible future use. There are signs this is changing. Big chunks of material are divided in more digestible small pieces (micro learning). Employees will have easy access to learning material when they need it (just in time). Knowledge and skills can be learned in a playful manner (gamification), and VR and AR learning solutions make learning more real (and fun). The learning experience can be tailored to the individual capabilities and needs of employees. A challenge will remain to monitor and measure the performance of people, to be able to find (or design) the most appropriate learning solution.

Hospitality and Service

HR operations has been highly undervalued. The last years we have seen an upgrade of HR Operations. Most likely HR can add most value in the HR operations area. The requirements for the people in HR operations are different though, and probably we need a new breed of HR professionals who can run HR as a service organisation. In HR services both IT and hospitality are important. Organisations that measure how employees experience their journey, often find that employees are not very happy with how they can find relevant HR information (often on the intranet). A top-notch HR service centre is very important for a positive candidate and employee experience. 24/7. Friendly chatbots that help employees and managers. High level professionals that can help when the programmed processes do not offer a solution and when the issue is too difficult for the chatbot.

Shrinking HR teams

Most HR professionals will work in HR services. The number of jobs in HR services will decrease, as the level of automation increases. Example: the sourcing work many recruiters were doing, is rapidly taken over by intelligent machines. HR advisors/ assistants/ business partners will become less necessary. HR is certainly a profession. Top HR professionals will be needed in HR services, and on a high-level HR architects can (and should) play an important role in the transformation of organisations.

Letting go

Planning and control are overrated. Most talent management programs cost a lot of money, and do not deliver on the high expectations. HR and management are used to design and implement programs, and life might feel empty without. An interesting organic approach.” Surely this approach can also be applied to other areas in HR.

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