United States: 3 Trends That Will Shape HR In 2018

Last Updated: February 2 2018

Article by Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner of Keystone Partners

Much attention is paid to cultures that contribute to the crash and burn of companies, while successful organizations highlight leadership and discuss the culture that allowed them to outpace the competition. Moving forward, C-suite leadership will talk about company culture at board meetings, hire visionary HR leaders who can evolve culture for the better, and recognize culture as a conveyor of business success. Cultural norms will include career development, purposeful work, flexible work arrangements, ethical practice, and issues that align with values or passions such as sustainability.

Path to Success—Nurturing Corporate Culture and Cultivating Talent

Today's leaders value transparency, and speed, and are willing to live with the impact of these—both good and bad. Their desire to share information quickly across multiple communication platforms has led to HR's ability to influence the C-suite to take a highly visible role in setting, redirecting, and championing corporate culture to drive organizational success. Be prepared for technology to be way more than a self-service benefits portal, or a communication vehicle for commerce or coordination. Technology and artificial intelligence (AI) will be part of the HR team, with responsibilities, outcomes, and cultural impact.

HR has long known that talent drives business, and culture lures and keeps talent. Exceptional candidates don't look for job openings, they look for people and organizations to which they can make a commitment and leaders they want to follow. Exceptional organizations take a long view on recruitment and develop a pipeline of talent for future hire; talent that is positively predisposed to both the leadership and culture of the organization.

Younger candidates will review corporate brands, look at social responsibility investments, flexibility, and development opportunities and decide if they want to consider working for an organization. Successful organizations have talent scouts on staff to develop relationships long before an active "recruitment" begins.

These scouts will now be part of a technology play. Building these pre- and post-recruitment relationships ensures that individuals holding the expertise employers will seek in the future will already know and respect the employer's brand, products, services, leadership, and culture.

Candidate time will be valued, their interviewers will be prepared and ask provocative questions geared toward learning about expertise, and communication about the process will be candid, consistent, and timely.

Candidates who are not hired will leave with the same positive regard resulting from the respectful and transparent treatment during the screening process, a new postrecruitment status, and their skills we be documented and retrievable for a future need. HR will spearhead efforts to maintain the organization's positive image as an employer, an image critical to attracting the right talent.

Corporate leaders recognize that employees increasingly desire continual development—ongoing learning and skill development, as well as frequent and timely feedback. Employees value autonomy, flexibility, and promotional opportunities. Employees recognize they need current skills and broad talent, and they will initiate conversations about development and welcome any assistance.

Continuous skill development is supported by the use of online learning and just-in-time experiences. From searching for answers on Google or YouTube, to shared learning sites involving video, learning and development will be a daily occurrence, not an annual event. Frequent feedback and mentoring supplement formal development strategies. Equity no longer comes in shares, but in development.

Mind the Gap—Building Bridges Among Generational Cohorts in the Workplace

Baby Boomers have lost their leadership place. They have been replaced by Millennials as the largest generational presence in the work force. Not only are Millennials the largest and most racially diverse generation, according to a 2016 Pew Research study, they are also the largest demographic group in the workforce today.

The differences between Boomers and Millennials have provided great material for talk show pundits. And yet, the generations are closer than they might at first appear. Regardless of generation, most employees want meaningful and challenging work, managers who support them, appropriate compensation, and recognition.

Older Millennials now in their mid-30s will move past the negative characterizations of their generation as they move into the C-suite and bring their unique outlook, values, and business style with them. C-suite Millennials will value the counsel of Gen Xers, Boomers, and Traditionalists as long as it is based on current reasoning, not historic practice.

Emerging leaders recognize their need for an in-depth understanding of economic cycles they have not yet experienced. Older generations have expertise to share. Millennials want mentors to help them maximize HR programs with the flexibility they want in an organization and to capture the best talent, and financial and legal expertise to move as quickly as they want in any organization they run. Managers from older generations will find a role here if they respect the talent and vision of younger leaders, and are invested in technology options for everything.

HR in the Driver's Seat—Strategic Initiatives

C-suite leaders are looking to HR to drive the organization's ability to meet strategic corporate initiatives. HR will facilitate organizational success and eliminate historic obstacles to maximizing its impact. HR practices will shift as speed and agility become the new normal, and as output, timeliness, and accountability become everyday focus as opposed to a quarterly review process. Whether you are in a small HR group or the leader of a large HR team, your role will demand a willingness to embrace new challenges and champion wide-ranging projects.

With the advancement of HR analytics, difficulty of measurement will no longer be an acceptable excuse for evaluating the impact of HR. Just as every other aspect of the corporation is managed by metrics, HR will commit to data-driven insights. Data will help to shape questions about optimal organizational structure for both the short and long term.

HR will take a deep dive into big data to measure engagement, and cultural impact on retention. Continuous review and documentation will replace quarterly or annual summations. More industries will leverage Net Promoter Scores and industry satisfaction benchmarks to gauge success relative to competitors, evaluate brand strength, and confirm their culture is accurately reflected in the market.

HR leaders won't be asking about AI and its impact on the organization, they will be strategically utilizing new methods that make the organization more competitive, streamlined, and optimizing staff, where the value of HR has always been.

Elaine Varelas is Managing Partner of Keystone Partners and has more than 20 years of experience in career consulting and coaching development. She has expertise in successfully resolving complex career management issues, including workforce planning, redeployment, and multi-site restructurings.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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