Will 2017 Be the Year of the Employee Experience?

Recognize This! – Trends in HR for the year ahead will emphasize empowerment, the employee experience, and ultimately a more human workplace.

What will some of the big themes be for HR leaders in the year ahead and how can we begin preparing for them? For some answers, I attended a session at HR Tech based on Josh Bersin’s new report, HR Technology Disruptions for 2017.

One of the key findings from that report is a much greater emphasis on empowerment and the whole work environment, increasing the robustness of how we think about employee engagement and cultural fit. HR technology is playing a large and disruptive role in accelerating this philosophical shift, bringing together sophisticated people analytics, always-on self-servicing, and greater social connection.

These trends deeply resonate with the WorkHuman movement and community. We collectively stand at a pivotal moment for HR to integrate technology and humanity in creating a better workplace and a better employee experience.

It is clear that employees now expect much more out of work, and by extension, many of the HR systems that Bersin graphiccontribute to the work experience in some way. In Josh’s analysis, we can see how these trends have emerged across HR functions (see the Evolution of HR systems graphic).

Early technologies aimed to automate and integrate existing processes, streamlining most administrative tasks across benefits and compensation and talent management. Because of that streamlining and perhaps other factors, HR professionals and employees alike began to realize that existing processes were no longer working.

They needed to be fundamentally rethought and rebuilt.

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Alongside cloud and mobile technologies, there is now an opportunity to rethink those processes and more fully engage the hearts and minds of employees. There is also an opportunity for HR to move at the speed of business, integrating these processes into the stream of everyday work.

Social recognition is one example that Josh mentions, which empowers all employees to recognize the contributions of others in real time, avoiding the costly process of top-down nominating committees and the pitfalls of having a small “winner’s circle.” Next-gen performance feedback is another area where this kind of empowerment is quickly growing, basing processes in ongoing growth-oriented conversations instead of annual forms or ratings.

Across these and the other emerging “apps that make work life better,” the notion of the workplace is expanding to include more human elements and meeting employee’s expectations for autonomy and control over those elements. These changes will result in a better employee experience, and as research by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute and the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute has shown, that will lead to better business results.

How is your company preparing for these more human trends ahead?

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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