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HR Trends to Watch in 2018

HR Trends to look for in 2018

January 10, 2018

Today’s workers don’t want to wait months for feedback. Many aren’t even sure they’re going to be in the same job when review time comes around, so receiving feedback months down the road is disengaging and often viewed as irrelevant. Employers have been looking to change the performance conversation from backward-looking to real-time and forward thinking.

So, what’s the trend? What are other employers doing? What’s working?

Here’s what we’re seeing from organizations leading the way in the performance review revolution:

  • Regular and frequent one-on-one meetings
  • Scheduled “check-ins” regarding specific goals and projects
  • Goal-setting (and making them sufficiently challenging)
  • Values-based recognition
  • Peer-to-peer recognition platforms
  • Continuous learning or on-demand training and development

Shaking up performance management and introducing continuous, real-time management and feedback models can have some impressive results, such as faster employee development, real-time response to performance and service issues, goals that are accomplished on time and at or above target, and higher employee and manager engagement. Continually nudging individual and organizational performance onto the right path can have an exponentially positive effect on organizational results. The great news here? Small organizations can implement big changes with less time, expense, and red tape.

Employer Branding

If you’re a small fish in a big competitive ocean, you MUST be able to express and support why a candidate would want to work at your organization. Just like you know why customers should buy your product or service, you must become a sales ambassador for selling your employment brand. Recruiting departments are starting to look more and more like sales and marketing departments, and many organizations are recognizing that combining recruiting and marketing skills is a perfect recipe for attracting talent.

What is an employer brand, anyway? It’s your public reputation as an employer, just like your company or product brand demonstrates the reputation of your company or product in the marketplace. In today’s world, the primary residence of an employer brand is on the internet: social media, your careers page, your job ads, and in reviews of your company posted by current and former employees. In the material world, every current and former employee, every vendor, every customer, and every manager is forever an ambassador of your employer brand, whether the impression be amazing, good, bad, or ugly!

The critical endeavor for business leaders in today’s competitive labor market is to take control of your employer brand. Learn what’s online, what people are saying, and what messages you’re sending to current and future candidates with your words and actions. If you don’t manage your employment brand, everyone else will.

The Side Hustle and the Gig Economy

Side Hustle: A product or service that you offer or sell on the side of your current full-time job to earn extra income. (According to the Side Hustle Academy).

Gig Economy: An economy in which there are few permanent employees and most jobs are assigned to temporary or freelance workers. (According to Collins Dictionary).

With an ever-increasing variety of options for making money online, easy access to advertising via social media, and the ability to jump in and out of affiliate marketing arrangements at will, the side hustle is becoming the rule more than the exception and is driving the new gig economy. Take a few minutes to enter ‘side hustle’ into your search engine and you’ll see what we mean. We’ve added the side hustle and the gig economy to our list of HR trends for two reasons:

First, many, if not most, of your employees likely already have a side hustle (even if that’s not the term they’re using for it). This means you need to be clear with employees about using work time, resources, and equipment for outside projects and be conscious of protecting your proprietary data. However, it also means that much of your workforce is gaining skill and experience outside the workplace that you can leverage in your own organization.

Second, you can leverage the products and services others are offering as their side hustle and take advantage of the growing gig economy. Small businesses now have direct access to talented individuals offering their freelance services. Need a marketing video? A graphic designer? Someone to proofread your publication? Someone to write an article or blog post for you? Programming? Digital marketing services? You don’t have to hire a full-time employee with an impossibly unique combination of skills when you have access to a global market of freelancers. Check out Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Guru, or GigBucks to check out the possibilities.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

The media tells us that our country is increasingly divided. And while their light often shines on the most outrageous examples of division, both individuals and organizations are increasingly sensitive to the actions that divide our communities and workplaces. Add headlines about continued gender pay gaps, LGBT discrimination, and racial tension, and addressing the same issues in the workplace becomes top of mind for leaders.

Diversity drives innovation, but only when differences are valued. It’s no secret that those who feel comfortable at work are more productive, trusting, and happier. Small companies have an edge over larger ones in creating, monitoring, and fine-tuning culture. However, in some ways a “family” culture can also be a detriment and limit your talent pool if it means fitting in to a quirky culture with inside jokes and generally accepted difficult personalities or in-fighting.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are increasingly viewed as contributing to an organization’s competitive advantage in both recruiting and sales markets. However, creating an environment where lots of differences exist (diversity) and where those differences are recognized and valued (inclusion) doesn’t happen without intention. Evolving demographics and increasing pressure for transparency are pushing employers large and small to take a hard look at how intentional they’re being about a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

It’s not science fiction anymore. Virtual and augmented reality devices are very real technologies that have promising implications across the business world. Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulated experience that the user controls – for example, a video game that puts the user in another world or reality. Augmented Reality (AR) enhances the real environment of the user with overlaid 2D or 3D images — for example, an overlay of an assembly diagram or accessing a visual checklist while performing the work.

According to the International Data Corporation, worldwide spending on VR and AR is expected to grow by 100 percent or more every year through 2021. Companies, such as Boeing, have introduced augmented reality to assembly processes, cutting assembly time by 25 percent and reducing error rates to practically zero. Organizations across a variety of industries, including medicine, retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and tourism are experimenting with and implementing augmented reality. Why is this an HR trend? VR and AR could, and likely will, fundamentally change the way we manage, recruit, communicate, train, and develop employees, as well as the way we all work and do business — a true game-changer.

State and Local Responses to Regulatory Uncertainty

We’re sure you’ve noticed that, at a federal level, many employment regulations have been in limbo over the last couple of years. It seems that every new regulation encounters a legal challenge and many are enjoined, overturned, or withdrawn before they become effective, leaving employers in a continual cycle of preparation, implementation, and retraction of workplace policies and procedures. For example, the updated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations affecting the salary level for exempt employees were set to become effective on December 1, 2015, but were enjoined only a few days before the effective date after many employers had already spent months preparing and implementing changes. Now the Department of Labor is starting over and will, at some point, issue new regulations. Will they ever be implemented and enforced? Stay tuned.

New federal employment regulations or guidance under OSHA, EEO, and the FLSA have met similar fates. Bills relating to sick leave, compensatory time, minimum wage, and other initiatives affecting the workplace, have failed to move through congress. Frustrated with the lack of progress and collaboration at the federal level, state, city, and county regulators have increased the pace of introducing and passing employment-related legislation. The result has been a patchwork of state and local ordinances which have proven difficult for many employers to track and manage. We’re also seeing some states begin to pass bills prohibiting cities, counties, and other localities from passing certain types of legislation and pre-empting what’s already been passed at the local level.

Employers all over the country have big-ticket, high-impact items on their regulatory radar, like healthcare, immigration, equal pay, overtime, paid leave, and tax reform. While we aren’t able to predict the future, companies like mine are constantly monitoring regulatory trends and changes to help you through the uncertain, complex, and ever-changing regulatory landscape.

Learn about other Staffing & Hiring resources for your small business in The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub or sign up for the Small Business Resources newsletter and stay connected for information about upcoming events, other resources and the latest announcements in the small business community in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Sarah Charlier

As a human resources business partner for Aureon HR, Sarah Charlier engages directly with Presidents, CEOs and Executive Leadership in organizations to identify and execute strategic human resources initiatives. She serves as a business partner by leading executives and managers through employee relations issues, technical labor law compliance, preparing managers to effectively manage employee performance and creating and adapting HR processes to best serve the organization.