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An overview of five up-and-coming trends that are having an impact on HR practices around the world. Use these insights to craft your strategy for 2017 and beyond …

From an increased reliance on technology to a truly multi-generational workforce - the arrival of 2017 has brought new challenges and fresh thinking in the field of HR.

Below are five trends that are currently having an impact on organisational thinking, employee wellness and talent management.

Many of these trends have evolved from obstacles encountered in previous years, while some still present challenges that have not yet been solved.

1. Workplace design as a function of personality

With the rising popularity of flexible workers and flat structures, many organisations have turned to an open-plan office layout. However, as author Susan Cain recently pointed out in her TED talk, most open-plan workspaces are designed primarily for extroverts.

Bright creative areas, open plan seating, flexible ‘hot spots’ for people who are in and out the office, a lack of quiet...all these elements work to improve productivity for people who are driven by others. What about those who function best in their own ‘bubble’, AKA introverts?

In 2017 and beyond, organisations who want to continually engage their employees and improve performance need to consider how best to motivate both introverts and extroverts. One popular solution is to design different working areas, allowing employees to choose their own option depending on the task they are working on. These areas can fulfil several important functions, e.g. provide quiet, provide privacy, allow an employee to recharge after meetings, provide an opportunity for one-on-one collaboration and more.

2. Millennials and the multigenerational workforce

Millennials are no longer the youngest members of our workforce. For the last decade, HR has been focused on researching, analysing and dissecting the behaviour of Millennials. However, it's important to realise that the older members of this group are already in their mid-30s.

Generation Z is now entering the picture and not much is yet known about these types of employees.

There is no generally accepted year in which generation Z started, with some sources stating 1994 and others 1996. Either way, the older members will now be turning 21 - 23 in 2017, meaning that they will soon be appearing as new employees, graduates and interns within your organisation. This leads to a whole host of questions such as:

  • Do Generation Z bring something fundamentally unique to the world of work?
  • How does motivation function within Generation Z?
  • Are Millennials equipped to be effective leaders going forward? 

At the same time, Baby boomers are now extending their retirement date and staying on longer. The result? A melting pot of ages, experience levels and possible challenges.

3. The debate around performance management

Performance management is a hot topic in HR and IO Psychology at the moment. In 2015 and 2016, many large corporate firms (such as Deloitte, SAP and General Electric) announced that they were doing away with traditional performance review structures, and substituting these with a more individualised feedback-driven approach.

In 2017, a gap has been discovered that may lead less companies to follow suit: the need for a verified and theoretically strong replacement for the annual performance review, as well as a proper change management process to make the transition successful.

4. Employees as consumers

In line with the huge trend of employer branding and agile recruiting, many organisations are, in essence, treating employees as ‘customers’. In years to come, this is likely to become an expectation from employees and therefore a crucial element of the engagement puzzle.

Many organisations have already moved their digital presence in this direction, with an increased focus on social media and ‘smart’ recruitment portals. Others have put into place impressive lifestyle benefits, such as gyms and free lunches.

However, companies still need to figure out the ‘personalisation’ element that many apps and services are getting right. Think of Netflix and how it recommends a range of entertainment titles to suit a customer’s tastes. Now start to think about applying this to talent management and HR. What about an app that recommends training programmes based on an employee’s skills and interests. Interesting, isn’t it?

5. Using analytics to predict

Talent analytics has been around for quite some time, especially within large corporates who have seen the value of data-driven strategic decisions. Now that databases are full of information just waiting to be harnessed, talent managers are moving in the direction of predictive analytics.

Some companies are using the results of engagement surveys to predict their turnover for the upcoming year. Others are analysing their recruitment strategy to predict how much money to put towards recruiting from a specific platform. Assessment databases are being used to predict talent for various internal recruitment initiatives, meaning that succession planning is coming a data-driven process too.

This trend is important because it provides a crucial competitive edge. Organisations who are able to base decisions on what works for them, and them alone, will spend less money, know what to expect in the future and be able to plan for different scenarios.

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