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Dec 5, 2016
This article is part of a series called Webinars.

The end of 2016 is near, and for some of us, thank goodness! While we count down the seconds until the crystal ball drops, we can plan for the trends about to hit human resources departments.

Keeping an eye on compliance will certainly be important over the next year. What happens with immigration, the overtime rule, and other issues is anyone’s guess. (Editor’s note: See “How President Trump Is Likely to Impact HR.”)

However, there are some trends that will be more and more prevalent in 2017. I’ll be discussing them in a TLNT webinar this coming Thursday. Click here for the details and to register. Here is a preview of some of the trends we’ll be dealing with.

Measuring engagement in real-time

There are some amazing tools available today that can measure how employees are feeling on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. With as few as three-to-four questions answered frequently, these tools can help identify where morale issues are cropping up or where a team is working effectively. While we tend to bribe and beg employees to complete annual engagement surveys, these tools can be integrated into collaboration tools to other communication tools or even as a kiosk at the employee exit.

When measuring real-time engagement, HR pros need to address issues in real time. The benefits of these tools are awesome – getting to issues as they happen – they also require vigilance to catch the issues that could result in liability, like sexual harassment and whistleblowing.

People analytics

For the past three or so years, HR folk have been told that people analytics are going to take over, helping make HR decisions easier and more effective, based on an employer’s own data. 2017 promises no different. With some of the big human capital management systems buying smaller data analytics companies, analytics are going to be more widely available in 2017. This means they are going to play a bigger part in how we manage people in the future.

That said, flags are being raised about the potential for legal challenges to decisions analytics help make. In October, the EEOC held its first public hearing on analytics and the potential for discrimination. The Federal Trade Commission and other agencies too are getting into the people analytics game, pondering other laws that employers could violate by an overreliance on analytics or the misuse of these powerful tools.

Die annual performance review, die

Business moves so fast. Organizations no longer can wait a year before dealing with performance issues or rewarding employees. Instead, managers and employees need to communicate much more frequently about successes and losses. On top of the business need, very few people love the annual performance as it often is the bane of managers, employees, and HR alike. In 2017, even more companies are likely to finally drop the annual performance review.

The death of the annual performance review doesn’t mean the death of performance discussions, quite the opposite. Instead of an annual review, employers should hold managers and employees more accountable to discuss performance to better fit the business goals and timely reward employees for a job well done. All we employment lawyers as is that employees keep some sort of records of those talks.

The cloud

More and more human capital management systems are putting employee data in the cloud, making it easier to access employee data. But this access also creates some vulnerabilities. Storing personally identifiable information on a different organization’s systems (i.e. the cloud) will not let employers off the hook when a data breach occurs.


While we have no clue what will happen with healthcare come January 21, we do know that the trend towards wellness will continue. This includes wellness programs that marry employee DNA and extensive health histories with specific fitness recommendations to improve health. The healthcare costs saved by these programs are astounding, but the risks of having sensitive, and even illegal genetic information could put an employer squarely in the crosshairs of the EEOC.

This article is part of a series called Webinars.