Foresights for HR in 2016

Group of People and Human Resoures Concept

The rapid advancements in technology, digitisation initiatives and globalisation of industries have redefined the role of Human Resources around the world. To understand what the future holds for HR professionals around the world, we spent the last month talking with our global network of HR professionals discussing their ideas and predictions for the year ahead. Our Consensus – strap yourself in, 2016 is going to be one of the most complex years for HR to date.

1. Increased HR focus on relationships over programmes. HR success is about building trusted relationships by demonstrating a deep understanding of the business. More than ever, in 2016 HR people will need to effectively understand and manage the impact of mergers, decentralisation and globalisation, as these changes will continue to have profound impact on employee communities and the way work gets done.

2. Organisation Culture and Employee Engagement become at the top of the agenda. It should be no surprise that current international economic conditions demand smarter business operations. To stay ahead of the global demographical shift and an increasingly competitive field of play, one theme common to all industries is Employee Engagement interconnected to Organisation Culture. Once afterthoughts to business strategy, integrated Employee Engagement and Organisation Culture is now a necessity. Secondary to this theme is Leadership, having the right people that know how to lead and inspire teams on a journey to success, while creating an exceptional employer brand along the way. This priority also heralds Learning & Development, which forms the foundations of any employer brand, has an important “seat at the table” in this highly commercialised world. This three-pronged offensive will become the signature of “new HR” in 2016 and will yield significant competitor advantage to companies that champion the approach.

3. Putting the human back into HR. Organisations with the ability to thrive in the current dynamic business environment are struggling because they don’t empower people or tap into their full potential. While success in the past was largely driven by process, structure and encouraging people to function more like machines, success in the future requires a heightened focus on the human side of business. Today’s employee communities have evolved to deal with uncertainty through collaboration, cooperation and using conflict in a constructive manner. So, businesses need to encourage their people to develop mindsets geared towards connection, conversation and experimentation. Curiosity is crucial: we need employees to continually question whether things are being done simply because they’ve always been done, and constantly seek new perspectives to identify better solutions. While specialist departments and defined reporting lines provide clarity of role and accountability, they also create barriers that block effectiveness. Organising people into silos of similar skills and functions reinforces the patterns required to solve simple and even complex problems, but also discourages collaboration with other departments or people outside of the business. It does nothing to encourage the kind of conversations required to navigate the increased complexities in work we are now faced with.

4. Improving Employee Experience. For the best part of the last decade, businesses have been transforming by implementing new technology to streamline processes and efficiencies. In 2016, the time has come to focus on improving the Employee Experience. In our experience, it is evident that every function has implemented new processes without looking at the big picture in terms of employee journey, resulting in today’s painful interdependencies between financial, HR, IT, Procurement and Benefits functions. With all functions using different technology, workflow designs and requisite documentation to perform tasks transferred during the last decade on automation initiatives, business operations are left under serviced and employees striving to recalibrate process in dynamic workplaces. Acknowledging this difficult stage of Organisational Development and improving the Employee Experience in challenging environments will drive engagement and retention.

5. Energise well-being and resilience programmes. As Europe becomes even more volatile and uncertain in terms of socio economic indicators, the pressure on individuals becomes even more challenging. Individuals are pushed to deliver ambitious growth targets at work and at home there can be struggles with unemployment (partner or child), financial pressures like the mortgage, loans etc. In anticipation of ongoing uncertain times ahead, wellbeing and resilience will continue to be a big area of focus for HR. More companies we support are providing free counselling with an external expert provider for employees and their dependents.

6. Keeping workforce skills updated and current. Keeping the skills of your employees up to date in this fast-evolving world has never been more important. Many companies immediately turn to external training providers, but before doing this it’s worth considering the expertise and experience right under your nose and how you can tap into this for the benefit of all staff. For example, younger employees, probably have knowledge of social media, which more seasoned staff may be struggling with, hence reversing the traditional hierarchy of skills. Harnessing peer-to-peer learning is a more efficient and cost effective way of increasing workforce skills, with the added benefits gained due to the knowledge transferred being significantly more relevant because people who understand your Organisation Culture deliver it.

7. Reimagine performance reviews. Internationally, the hottest topic at the moment is inevitably performance reviews, including dropping performance ratings or doing away with them altogether in favour of agile management practices. Several companies like Accenture, Deloitte and others have already dropped performance ratings. GE is piloting significantly redesigned programmes. Another company we support one is abolishing individual bonus. If you are not already enthralled in a lively debate, be prepared for many a discussion on this hot topic during 2016.

8. Big data analysis. Undeniably, the biggest HR trend in 2016 will be a healthy shift towards predictive data analysis. Talk about big data has been ongoing for some time and now it’s time to start to act on all that discussion and put all available data to good use.

9. Data driven Talent Acquisition. New technology and advanced professional network platforms mean that access to data is getting easier and more affordable. Recruitment leaders can arm themselves with data and become very strategic in their decisions. Talent pools built using data helps recruiters better understand wide spread employment markets, making efforts more efficient. Expect data-driven recruiting to be a trend that will gain some real traction in 2016.

10. Ongoing consolidation of businesses. Globalisation initiatives will continue to drive consolidation of businesses, ensuring that the HR environment will stay challenging for most industries. HR effectiveness will depend on effectively pairing with data analytics and I think it’s safe to say we can expect more challenges with integrating new generational employees and how to become an attractive employer for the future workforce.