With the New Year fast-approaching, here are the top 5 key trends set to impact HR and talent in 2017:

1. The redefinition of work will continue to evolve

2017 will see the redefinition of work become more pronounced. The rise of the millennial generation is spurring a shift towards flexible work arrangements, whilst retiring baby boomers and Mums returning to work increasingly opt for freelancing and contingent (part-time) work opportunities. The gig economy, in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements, crowdsourcing, and the rise of the on-demand economy – synonymous with Uber and Airbnb – are also increasingly changing the landscape of business.

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The redefinition of work has huge implications for the way organisations recruit as no longer can they afford to have a linear relationship with a candidate. Rather, recruiters will need to increasingly maintain internal and external networks of talent, tipping traditional sourcing strategies on their head.  

These new models of working also promote workforce agility in that they allow organisations to quickly solve market problems via a collaboration of skills, either from outside, or inside the business, or both. This also creates challenges for human resources (HR) when it comes to recruitment, performance and compliance. It’s going to be more important than ever for HR to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to looking both internally and externally for talent with the right skills and appetite for various projects. Organisations that have clear visibility into their total talent network will be able to mobilise the right people, for the right roles, with the right skills, at the right time.

2. An acceleration in personalising the employee experience

2017 will also see the acceleration of personalised talent management practices driven by a focus on employee experience and made possible by technology, thus resulting in a shift away from standardised best practices.  HR departments will increasingly adopt consumer marketing tactics, such as segmentation in an effort to drive engagement and enrich the employee experience as employees essentially become the ‘new customer’.

The success of this within an organisation will rely heavily on the availability and access to technologies which can help support and scale it across their workforce. ‘Smart’ learning opportunities tailored for individuals which are employee-centred and goal-oriented are already a reality for some organisations. Machine learning, using algorithms in talent management are already helping to tailor learning content and help HR customise the employee experience. Similarly, an effective talent mobility strategy will also be important for keeping employees engaged and providing visibility of internal job opportunities and projects aligned to their interests and skills.

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3. An explosion of real-time, continuous feedback

Creating a culture of continuous feedback will be top priority for organisations and is being driven by millennials’ expectations for regular, ongoing feedback and the increasingly fast-paced business environment.  Adopting tools that enable people to receive regular feedback from different sources, such as peers, customers or multiple managers for instance, will therefore become more and more important for boosting engagement among the growing millennial workforce and improving overall productivity. In doing so, organisations can develop a stronger workforce which positively impacts their overall company goals.

HR technologies are already reinventing traditional performance management practices and have reached a new level of maturity making it possible for managers to easily capture and provide ongoing feedback to their teams, at any time. Tools are becoming smarter and embedding activity streams, pulse surveys and other techniques for feedback. The rise of Performance Management Apps, which continued to surface in 2016, are  helping to make regular feedback a formalised process that can be provided and captured from any mobile device. This type of technology will continue to see rapid adoption in 2017 as more and more organisations look to reinvent or complement the traditional annual performance review with ongoing, everyday feedback.

4. The rise of people analytics and digital HR taking data to new heights

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The maturity of people analytics will empower HR to play a greater role in influencing executive-level decision-making, with the ability to provide richer insights on people productivity metrics than has previously been possible. The sophistication of people analytics refers to reporting beyond typical HR data such as recruitment and retention metrics, to providing the business with a holistic view of people productivity using a combination of operational, financial and talent data.  

Like most HR innovations today, technology is driving this shift and leading the sector further down the path of data-driven decision-making with the ability to correlate people data to business performance, and in some cases predict business performance, as well as plan future workforce needs. Over the coming year, what will matter most is how quickly and easily HR can access a multitude of people data and explore it alongside other types of data to improve business outcomes.

Along the same vein is the rise of digital HR. A plethora of new HR technology is transforming the industry as we know it today and forcing organisations to undergo a degree of digital transformation. The emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence which mimics human decision-making processes whereby algorithms can learn from and make predictions based on patterns of behaviour, will foster smarter recruiting and talent management practices. Whether helping HR tailor the employee experience or analysing the traits of star performers in order to guide future recruiting decisions, the rise of digital HR practices will change the industry as we know it today make the industry increasingly data-driven.

5. A focus on wellbeing as a driver of performance & engagement

With factors such as new models of work, a fast-paced society, the need for continuous feedback all challenging the way we do things, organisations are having to work harder than ever before to keep people engaged, and are realising the importance of promoting healthy, happy employees.

Wellness with respect to driving performance and productivity will become a major focus in 2017. Formalising wellness to improve productivity outcomes is fast-becoming a corporate responsibility which is fuelled by the expectations of a growing millennial workforce, and their appetite for flexibility.

A focus on wellbeing means implementing true flexible work arrangements such as compulsory flexible working that’s not frowned upon, more emphasis on ensuring people are fit to work and even putting a cap on leave accrual so that people take regular breaks. It may also be about organising wellness workshops or setting wellness goals/KPIs and ensuring they are just as important as professional goals/KPIs. Fitbit technology is also helping to take employee wellness to unchartered territory where targets and team challenges can be set and encouraged by managers.

In order to be productive employees need to feel that their wellbeing is in the organisations’ best interests, presenting HR with a very ripe opportunity to step up their efforts in this area in 2017.

Which of these trends do you think will have the biggest impact on your organisation in the future? Leave a comment…