As you can see from my recent activities on social media, my core interest includes people development and HR strategic leadership, and my career last 16 years covers roles such as recruiter, people/business developer, business strategic planner and project manager.
Notice: I would never move to south east Asia, from Europe, if it wasn't for my passion for people development, business strategy, leadership and Asian culture. Having said that, I also frequently meet business leaders and HR directors talking about their needs/problems with potential solutions.
Below article highlights HR trends in 2018 with information taken from 20 directors who I spoke with recently, besides, secondary research including Forbes.com, ProQuest, Sciencedirect.com, bitly.com and humanresourcetoday.com.
First of all, in a very competitive landscape, where businesses are popping up (and dying) faster than ever before, what do you think is critical for competitive advantage and to stand out from competition? Why do you think Intel corporation traditionally has had a bigger market share than AMD although the latter offers a lower price at a very high standard? Why do you think Gillette continues to lead the market although there are plenty of similar products at lower prices and sometimes at a very high quality? The answer is often found in extreme marketing and sales skills, state-of-the-art R&D (research and development) and a very strong brand created over a long period of time. And what is behind the success? Human brain power and talents. It is much more difficult to duplicate human talents (skills and knowledge), compared with a product, so strategic human resource management is therefore critical for business success.
2017 was a year where HR strategists very much focused on the well-being of their staff and satisfaction, and, to build a better corporate environment. Many HR leaders also spent time on investigating strategies that can help them to recruit and retain top talents. I must say that I seen a mix of HR failure and HR success last decade with some horrible stories from very well reputed businesses (let us call one firm Blue-X, which is a digital unit in a blue-chip corporation) and a firm that showed negligence, and incompetence, with "clown managers" exposing a frequent "protecting your ass mentality" instead of taking care of their employees - and shareholders (some big shareholders are selling of their shares in this firm and I knew this was going to happen!!). High employee turnover, and bad corporate buzz by hundreds of dissatisfied people leaving on a very short notice (withing 12 months) is often a warning signal that needs to be taken seriously. And that firm (Blue-X) boasts itself of having tough entry requirements and entrance checks: so who is to blame for this mess? Bad management? Or just the fact Blue-X is a tax shield setup, where high employee turnover matters less?
Nevertheless, 2018 will likely be a year where HR leaders focus more on digital tools needed to thrive and develop efficiently and effectively (doing the right things right). As part of becoming a more effective user of digital tools this would imply a unified HR and payroll cloud system in order to minimize time consuming admin tasks. Another key point in 2018 stresses the important of the employee experience. This covers things such as having beer fridges at the office, ping pong tables, nap pods, as part of making the office feeling as least like work as possible. Hence, the employee experience will be more important than culture and engagement combined. A third trend in 2018 illustrates the importance of implementing workforce analytics to better measure, characterize, and organize important workforce data. This would help HR figures to more effectively assess employee performance and spot success potential. This would also help HR officials to uncover risks of having talents leaving the business, and thus, taking preventive actions to keep them in the corporation.
A fourth HR trend in 2018 explains the importance of continuous feedback for more personal growth. A bigger chunk (43%) of the younger workforce according to Forbes, is also uninterested in traditional performance reviews and instead seek ongoing corrective and constructive feedback to understand what went right/wrong and how to improve. Professionals today also want career advancement, because, without a clear direction, employees don't know where to begin and how to advance. And I'v seen multinationals having no clarity at all, saying "if you do a good job you will perhaps be able to climb" which is not enough clarity today. When in time can I expect a move? This year? Next year? How can you help me to influence other decision makers of such a move? What regions are open to me and what for functions in the business? These are questions that disappointed employees who leave a business often find unanswered.
A fifth HR trend in 2018 includes bringing learning online and across the organisation where continues learning, digital training through LMS (learning management systems) helps HR to measure employee productivity, through data. I would like to highlight that it is not just important to provide employees with training to do a better job now, but also to look into the future: What direction does the employee want to go? And if a certain department can't provide this opportunity there should be opportunities for rotation - globally if required especially at multinationals. That is not always the case according to my witness. It is also vital NOT to provide employees with training they have already received in the past, so consider a candidates full background, studies, and knowledge before designing a training program. And don't just provide same training for everyone - TAILOR your training ! I'v seen so many mistakes by corporations who just focus on a one-fit-for-all solution which is not motivating at all for many driven and intellectual employees.
A sixth HR trend in 2018 stresses the importance of HR officials to offer unique benefits to attract new candidates, such as pet insurance but also tailored benefits aimed at individuals' lifestyles, family commitments and personal interests. A seventh HR trend in 2018 focuses on wellness beyond the office, the value of work-balance, and, to limit employees checking of emails out of office hours, but also, to mitigate stress symptoms such as financial stress and relationship problems. A good start is to offer financial and mental health programs at the office - and getting paid for it! Another HR trend in 2018 highlights the importance of turning hiring into a science with more video interviews and customized assessments with questions that uncover responses leading to job success as part of finding the right behavior. With AI - artificial intelligence (AI - savior or death?), responses from videos can be analyzed and scored against a model of ideal response to uncover best possible candidates. But I also think we should not blindly focus on tools to get the best possible candidates, some top candidates may not just be able to explain their ability to help a business with a message that is accepted by the "robot" or interviewer, hence, corporations may lose a lot of hidden talents!
HR trends in 2018 further demonstrate the importance of offering job flexibility, and to allow employees to work from home, or, from anywhere in the world, as long as targets are met. WordPress allows people to work from home, and several other firms, but not Blue-X as mentioned earlier. I seen this and it is bizarre not to allow people to be flexible when a firm like Blue-X boasts itself of being an innovator and trend developer. Google has designed its environment to encourage better collaboration between teams and departments. It has also been mentioned that Gen Z:s & millenials prefer in-person conversations instead of telecommuting and that they prefer corporate offices before telecommuting. Leaders who embrace personal connections will receive more committed, satisfied and productive workers which include more phone calls, video conferencing and in-person meetings.
I mentioned the importance of education in above sections, and education is probably the most disruptive business today with online courses, and free courses available anytime, anywhere at a fraction of the price it would cost to complete a module on-site. Sites such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, edX, Udemy, Udacity and The Khan Academy are taking more market shares than ever before, due to the fact more and more younger learners resist traditional education. This, due to increasing tuition fees, and the fact it is hard to find a qualified job today reflecting a candidates' education and interests. And with more universities being forced to offer free or low cost courses online many young people equip themselves with skills needed to perform a particular job at a high standard. HR enthusiasts should therefore tap into these public opportunities and develop a system where employees are offered tailored courses besides having a credential system that track and follow-up a candidates' progress based on his/her corporate and out-of-office global learning and achievements.
Why is ongoing training and people development so important? According to Forbes, 45% of small businesses are unable to find skills needed and 60% of employers in a survey done by Forbes mentioned that it can take 12 months or longer to fill a vacancy. That equals 800,000 USD in annual costs (loss of opportunity) , loss of productivity, including ad costs. Also, consider the fact that the skills available now may become obsolete in 10 years time due to rapid changes in technology. And when teams are getting adequately trained this can lead to at least 10% increase in productivity according to Forbes and ongoing training should therefore be considered by corporations seeking success.
I also mentioned financial and mental wellness in earlier sections, but why is this topic of an importance? Workers today feel stressed out, burned out, which impacts productivity and satisfaction. It has been uncovered that 50% of employees at some point suffer from financial concerns which is equivalent with the loss of 6 productive workdays per year, per employee. Forbes also mentions that 84% of employees suffer from physical, psychological or behavioral symptoms of poor mental health, were, symptoms like depression could imply 5 missed workdays and 11.5 days of reduced productivity every 3 months costing the USA 200Mn USD in loss of workdays annually = 17-44 Bn USD in loss of productivity. PwC provides 24/7 mental health counselling and it has been highlighted that burnout is often caused by unfair compensation, unreasonable workload and too much after hours work.
Last but not least, a very important HR trend in 2018 is to make hiring an anonymous process - just like blind dating. This, to get rid of biased and subjective decision makers, and instead put a law into practice that eliminates names, gender, age, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. Screening should instead focus on abilities and achievements plus a candidates interests and ambitions which would create a more diverse workforce built on merits and not buddy-buddy vibes. This is a kick in the ass to all enterprises that underperform, or, struggle with ideas, or market competitiveness - so think outside the box - and DO IT in the reality, stop talking! Another HR 2018 trend in the recruitment process states to "gamify" (gamification) the recruitment process: use apps as games to screen candidates, and turn these apps into tests of critical skillsets meantime making them fun and engaging for the job seeker. Algorithms track critical analytics and HR management can predict strengths and weaknesses and quicker find the diamonds - top candidates.
As a final comment I wanted to state that millenials redefine jobs, and the concept of doing work anywhere becomes vital for corporate success. This, together with a labor market that become more like amazon or ebay than monster.com and with companies investigating more in crowd sourcing is a new trend to stay for the foreseeable future.
Happy New Year !
/ Anthony Marc
Founder of BL&MT
Director, lecturer, writer and children charity supporter
Released: 27 December 2017, Place Saigon TP Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Copyright (C) 2018. Anthony Marc. BL&MT www.businesslynch.com. All rights reserved.
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