2017 has been a time of immense change for the modern workforce and HR professionals. The rise of the gig economy, huge developments in technology and a new understanding of employee experiences has already made waves throughout the industry. Below are four of my predictions for areas that will be significant in the HR landscape in 2018.
1. The future of work will evolve
The modern workplace and workforce is changing, affected by factors such as global expansion, demography (millennials entering), societal expectations/behaviours and economic factors. These changes are initially stimulating first adopters at the individual level, and then permeating slowly at an organisational level.
In 2018 the nature of work will shift via cultural change. Employees will demand a more flexible way of working from their employer. For example, retention of key talent necessitates that organisations be conscious of a positive work experience. In order to be competitive, some companies are introducing the concepts of unlimited leave, flexible hours and working from home whilst ensuring business outcomes are met.
Adoption of digital tech will also be a key factor in the future of work. Organisations acknowledge that they need more productive, knowledgeable and happy employees when servicing their clients. To achieve this, many are turning to digital tools to enhance employee productivity and leadership decision making. Statistically 70 per cent of the Australian workforce is service/labour based, so this provides great scope to upskill our workforce and enhance productivity.
Creating a great place to work is also achieved by having a culture of innovation and engagement. Transformation is continuous and we must prepare for the future now. Australian companies need to embrace flexibility and really look at how they engage with contingent talent. The contingent workforce (gig economy and contractors) still want to be part of a workforce culture and employee value proposition, with access to development opportunities.
2. Digital disruption will continue
Technology can enable new ways of solving problems, creating unique experiences and accelerating business performance. Digital disruption is affecting business models, work practices and staff lifestyles.
Organisations now see that putting up physical or technical barriers to insulate an employee’s quest to learn, share, collaborate and engage in meaningful ways is no longer viable to retain high performing employees and stimulate innovative thinking. Social tools and sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Glassdoor may not be corporately owned applications, but they are used by prospective employee candidates to filter those organisations that have a strong purpose and vision for the future.
Leadership is also being disrupted now. Organisations are looking for younger, more agile and diverse leaders that understand all things digital, such as adopting technology to help enable continuous feedback as a way to learn and accelerate decision making. Digital leadership makes companies more effective, creating rapid talent mobility, collaborative learning and pushing to deliver products faster in an iterative way.
Disruption is also coming from companies prioritising their own employees over their customers. There has been a widespread realisation that retaining key talent helps retain customers, and prevents a churn of new employees. This has led to a digital emphasis on enhanced internal communication tools, engagement and survey capabilities. This keeps organisations well informed about the health and well-being of its employees on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and not reliant on once a year surveys and appraisals.
3. Datasets will be leveraged to drive business outcomes
Organisations are finding it difficult to boost employee education and skills training fast enough to keep pace with change. By understanding people, we are better able to influence their own career journey within the company. This is not just about vertical promotions but moving horizontally throughout the organisation, ultimately to get to where their goals and ambitions reside. Whilst the outcome is retention of key talent, it is also about the influence these people have on their peers as a determinant of creating and maintaining a high-performance culture and engagement.
By adding personalised, mobile friendly, and employee-centric digital learning capabilities, this approach addresses the needs of both companies and learners – putting employees in control of their career development and allowing for learning to occur in more natural ways as part of a daily work flow. Aligning the right learning content to the right person at the right time in a “Netflix-style” user-experience will simplify discovery, browsing of courses and enable predictive search, all designed for self-directed learning and creation of learning paths. The intelligent platform will automatically identify and recommend courses based on a user’s interests, preferences and aspirations, via a machine learning algorithm. Importantly a platform such as this will automatically identify the best learning paths by role or career trajectory to help employees pursue their ambitions.
4. Employee experience will be used to drive productivity and talent management strategies
The modern workforce want to know that their organisation is seeing the world through the employee’s eyes, staying connected and working with them on their major career milestones. Investing in them with meaningful training and development based on their current and future needs, aspirations, even though they’re not sure where they want to be in 2-5 years’ time.
Anecdotally, job satisfaction is most influenced by having a sense of empowerment, feeling appreciated and being able to do meaningful and interesting work. This means choice of employer and clear articulation of values. Digital HR strategies will be driven by those expectations. We’ve found that with our customers, when they have defined their core values, their success comes from walking the talk. Cornerstone OnDemand’s Unified Talent Management solution enables this strategy by linking the end to end employee lifecycle, from recruitment, performance, learning and core HR. All of the processes, assets, and people data are all intrinsically connected to improve both the employee user experience.
Companies and HR departments are going through a change in both mindset and behaviour. Most HR departments start out as delivering compliance functions, such as payroll, benefits and meeting legal requirements. Organisationally, we find that there is a potential strategy conflict now between compliance (low risk) and innovation (high risk). They don’t necessarily go together but we need to do both.
Innovation creates an engaged workforce, which means that people work harder, are more productive and more creative. Culture also creates innovation, and teams succeed when people are connected, engaged, have a common purpose and there is open and transparent environments.
In the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, David Brown from Deloitte Australia said 85% of Australian HR professionals say fostering a better employee experience is their most important priority. “At present Australian HR professionals are closely focused on retention through improving the employee experience, such as setting up systems to help employees deal with the volume of communication and level of administration in their lives,” said Brown. “If employees are happy, a company will see better productivity, greater collaboration, less turnover and greater retention of corporate knowledge.”
Consequently, Australian companies must understand and elevate digital HR as a priority in 2018.