5 Workforce Issues You Need to Focus On This Year

The HR department will need to innovate in 2018. With unemployment at a 17 year low, employers are struggling to find — and retain — top-tier talent with the right skills. Meanwhile, as the turnover rates suggest, workers are more restless, insisting their employer provide not only a fair salary and benefits that help them balance work and life, but also invest in their career development.

As technology assumes more of the routine, time-consuming administrative tasks, HR leaders are increasingly focusing on these issues as the profession looks toward workforce strategy: How to help their organizations become more agile and productive through better workforce management.

Let’s look at the five main trends HR professionals need to be on top of in 2018.

1. Performance management

Quite a few companies have given up annual or biannual performance assessments and are now implementing a continuous feedback system. More precisely, they give feedback on some regular schedule — once a month is common or at the end of each project. This approach creates a better dynamic in both the professional and personal development of employees. Why? Because employers act in real time, pinpoint employee needs, can invest in training programs, can gather feedback and can implement new, appealing benefits.

This parallels practices in the IT sector. When developing a project, most IT companies use scrum teams as their project management framework. The scrum team is self-organized by project and consists of a product owner, the development team for that particular project, and is led by a scrum master. They divide the IT project into chunks (sprints) of development of 30 days or less, and, at the end of every sprint, they get feedback from the product owner. Scrum ensures that the most valuable work has been completed by the time the project ends, even if the project is cancelled. Continuous feedback provides employees with the knowledge, self-awareness, motivation and encouragement to work together to overcome barriers.

2. Learning & development

Companies need to provide a mix of classroom training and online training, as millennials, who are beginning to represent the majority of employees, prefer digital training. Also, this generation prefers microlearning, with sessions lasting no more than one hour. Typically, they do not have the patience required for a day-long training because they are accustomed to multitasking, and they often find it difficult to sustain their attention on a single subject over a long period of time.

A 2016 Pew Research Center survey, “The State of American Jobs,” found that “87% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.” Therefore, companies should have a skills development strategy that allows them to adopt different approaches for acquiring, expanding and developing employees’ capabilities.

While some organizations focus on hiring people with the required skills right from the beginning (through screening and pre-employment assessments), other companies prefer to use internal or external training to achieve the desired skills on the way, after they hire people with the right “can-do” attitude.

3. Chatbots and AI

Chatbots, computer programs that interact with humans conversationally, are increasingly being used for HR activities based on clear and concise data. Chatbots can handle simple employee requests, allowing the HR department to focus on areas that require creativity. For example, employees can ask the chatbot for the documents in their employee file, request information about holiday days, apply for vacation or ask the chatbot to explain how their salary was calculated. HR chatbots can answer common questions such as, “When do we get paid?” so that the HR team can work on more urgent and strategic issues.

Article Continues Below

4. HR data

In most cases, HR-related data is used for analysis, reporting, and budgeting. The challenge will be to use this data for planning and strategy. The HR department should pay attention to how other departments interpret data. For example, marketing & sales monitors the competition’s actions. How can this technique be applied to HR data? HR can monitor the job postings of the competition: How many positions do they post per month; What kind of positions are they posting; What open jobs do they most frequently post? In addition, during interviews with newly hired employees who have come from the competition, the HR department can gather useful information — what they like about your company, why they left their previous job and if they believe their current salary is fair. With this information, the HR people can make a competition map and use it to develop a talent acquisition strategy.

5. Innovative benefits

This is an area where companies have to be trendsetters, not followers. Companies that come up with innovative ideas for employee benefits win when it comes to attracting candidates. We all have heard of companies that give employees unlimited leave or reduce the workweek from five to four days. Companies that have used these benefits as a PR tool usually attract candidates who are out of the box thinkers, like innovation and have a free spirit. These employees’ qualities are translated into their work attitude, their productivity and the positive employer branding they will project for the company.

Which of these trends will you implement in your 2018 HR strategy? Let us know in the comments below.