Here’s what HR leaders think will be the top trends of 2018


The year 2017 was a roller-coaster ride for the jobs and human resource space. Be it artificial intelligence, robotics or digital workforce, the message was clear to the existing workforce: ‘Shape up or ship out’. The emphasis was on learning and upgrading one’s skills to meet the expectations of the changing workforce. In 2018, there could be another wave of changes in the space. Top HR leaders list them out for Moneycontrol:

Data analytics

Research conducted by Accenture Strategy shows 80 percent of HR and other business leaders are convinced HR should shift its mandate to become a driver of workforce performance. Through data-driven insights, HR now has the opportunity to directly tie workforce-related decisions to tangible business outcomes.

Sunit Sinha, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy – Talent & Organization, Accenture in India said that these range from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies that augment people’s capabilities to workforce management, succession planning and leadership development.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Chhaya Sharma, Team Lead-HR, Capital Float said that the biggest HR Trend in 2018 and the years to come is the integration of new technologies in the HR Space & digitalization of the workplace.

These, said Sharma, will bring more transparency ranging from talent retention in HR, productivity in operations, data-driven decisions in finance, improved employee engagement and so on.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already being used heavily in some sectors. The thrust, according to HR leaders, is expected to rise further.

Shraddhanjali Rao, Head of Human Resources, SAP India said that in 2018, one of the key HR trends will be changing the operating paradigm using technology, not only to simplify process implementation and create operational efficiency but also to focus on providing hyper personalized experiences to employees.

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will play a strong role in recruitment and career development processes. These technologies will help employees map and chart their career path with an emphasis on diverse experiences,” she added.

The overall turnaround time for hiring is also expected to go down with the use of these technologies. Savita Hortikar, Head of Recruitment, ThoughtWorks India said that with these technologies, the time taken to ‘mine for candidates’ is drastically reduced, the search is also narrowed down to only the best talent that match job requirements, apart from removing biases.

With mundane job searches being handled by technology, the role of a human resource official is also expected to change. Shefali Mohapatra, Chief People Officer, Atria Convergence Technologies said that automation is a must in HR not because it’s the latest buzz but because it minimizes time and effort on transactions and allows HR professionals to focus on higher value adding activities. She added that this also allows us to craft more meaty and enriching roles for our employees.

Other technology-led additions will also add to the existing ones. Achal Khanna, CEO, SHRM India said that the time for HR Chatbots is coming soon. 2018 might be the year when this trend picks up. She said that it could involve chatbots who guide employees on career moves or even do preliminary interviews.

Liquid workforce

Sinha of Accenture said that another trend is the emergence of agile, liquid and adaptive workforce structures with an increasing reliance on crowdsourcing skills, contracted employees and ecosystem partners for skills. This creates an imperative for HR to think end to end about the experience for all parts of the workforce.

Chaitali Mukherjee, Partner – People & Organisation, PwC India said that in 2018, bring your own device will morph into bring your own people–for the right job. She added that the Liquid Workforce will continue to grow in an effort for organisations to manage costs, get the best talent for the job and leverage ‘just in time’ skills.


In sectors like IT, upskilling was the biggest differentiator to choose whether an employee was to be retained or let go off. In 2018 as well, this is expected to continue, for hiring as well as retention.

Mukherjee said that learning intelligence will be the key differentiator when it comes to hiring across levels. Organisations will increasingly focus on hiring employees who have a wide breadth of experiences and skills, and will focus on their ability to learn fast and adapt quickly, rather than their subject matter expertise alone.

Adding to this, Khanna of SHRM India explained that learning will no longer be a function of what is needed or when it is needed, but will be more of an active, employee-driven process which is constant rather than as per a training calendar.

In sectors like IT, specialised skill-sets will continue to be in demand. Alka Dhingra, General Manager, IT staffing, TeamLease Services said that as the industry moves away from traditional IT technologies like Java and Selenium to modern cloud-based applications & frameworks that offer scalability and inter-operability 2018 will also see a huge demand for re-skilling.

“Some of the skills which will be in demand in 2018 are including Google Tensorflow, Apache Mahout, Python, R, Dockers and Spark among others,” she added.


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