10 Top Trends HR Professionals Need to Know

Those going into human resource careers are entering a world that requires bold and innovative thinking. There is a change in strategies taking place for leadership, talent and human resources in 2015.

In this new world of work, the walls between work and life are being eliminated. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, employees are always connected, always hooked up to their jobs and the world through mobile technology. These changes are challenging existing people practices. How you evaluate and manage people; how you engage and develop teams; how you select leaders and how they operate?

Studies are showing human resource managers are facing increasing new demands to measure and monitor the larger organizational culture, simplify the work environment, and redesign work to help employees adapt better. For HR and talent teams, the year 2015 will be a critical year. It will be a time for creativity, bold leadership and a fundamental reimagining of the practices HR leaders have relied upon for years.

The data from Deloitte confirms substantial capability gaps in all ten areas. Based on the survey data and secondary research, details on each of these challenges and recommendations for how leaders can address them include:

1. Culture and engagement

For 2015, culture and engagement was rated the most important issue overall, slightly edging out leadership which was the number one issue last year. This issue highlights the need for business and HR leaders to develop a clear understanding of their organization’s culture and reexamine every HR and talent program as a way to better engage and empower people.

2. Leadership

Building leadership remains a perennial issue, ranking as the number two challenge in this year’s survey. Despite the fact that nearly nine out of 10 respondents surveyed cite the issue as “important” or “very important,” the data also suggests that organizations have made little or no progress since last year. There remains a capability gap for developing great leaders and it has widened in every region of the world.

3. Learning and development

The very real need to transform and accelerate corporate learning moved up this year from number eight in 2014. The percentage of companies rating learning and development as very important tripled since last year.

But even though the importance of this issue rose, the readiness to address it decreased. Only 40% of the respondents survey reported their organizations as “ready” or “very ready” in learning and development in 2015, compared to 75% in 2014.

4. Reinventing HR

The study showed the fourth biggest issue was the need to reskill HR itself. Think extreme makeover. There has been little progress in this area since 2014. Both HR and business leaders, on average, rated HR’s performance as low. In addition, business leaders rated HR’s performance 20% lower than did HR leaders.

This shows how important it is to accelerate HR’s ability to deliver value as the economy improves. Because of these dim views of HR’s performance, the trend of CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO is increasing.

5. Workforce on demand

Capability was highly desired by eight out of 10 respondents surveyed. They cited workforce capability as being either “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

These responses indicate the demand for skills that is promoting a trend toward greater use of hourly, contingent, and contract workers. The data highlights the need to develop better processes, policies, and tools to source, evaluate, and reward talent that exists outside of traditional corporate and organizational balance sheets.

6. Performance management

The work world is in need of rethinking how organizations manage, evaluate, and reward employees. New, faster models for performance management have arrived. These new evaluation management models can become a core component of this year’s focus on engagement, development, and leadership.

7. HR and people analytics

The next frontier for HR might be people analytics. This concept is transforming the way we hire, develop and promote or separate our workforce in a data-driven and evidenced based way. It has the potential to change the way HR will work. However, HR organizations appear to be slow in developing the capabilities to take advantage of analytics’ potential.

8. Simplification of work

An emerging trend in last year’s Global Human Capital Trends report identified the “overwhelmed employee.” This year, the percentage of respondents who regard this as a “very important” issue rose from 21% to 24%.

Companies are struggling to engage the modern, 21st century workforce. This is a worldwide issue with Gallup research showing that only 13% of employees around the world are actively engaged at work and more than twice that number are so disengaged, they are likely to spread negativity to others.

This heightened recognition is just the beginning of what we see as a long-term movement by companies to simplify work, implement design thinking, overhaul the work environment and help employees focus on relieving stress. Workers today want more and are demanding meaningful, rewarding work. According to Forbes, studies show nearly 26% of the U.S. workforce was going to change jobs in 2014 and these are typically the most highly skilled and motivated people.

9. Machines as talent

It’s no surprise that the Digital Age continues to make an impact on HR professionals. Cognitive computing—the use of machines to read, analyze, speak, and make decisions—is changing the workplace at all levels. Some believe that many jobs will be eliminated. HR teams must think about how to help redesign job roles and work in cooperation with computers in almost every role.

10. People data everywhere

The role of outside data is integral to an HR analytics solution. Data from social networks, recruiting networks, talent networks and external job sites is critical to understanding retention, engagement, and employee career needs. In fact, some executives have found that external people data is more accurate and useful than data inside the company.

Companies that make the investment to build people analytics capabilities will likely outperform their competitors in the coming years. HR professionals should learn to view, manage, and take advantage of this data for better recruiting, hiring, retention, and leadership development.

How a master’s degree from Spring Arbor University can help

The online MBA in Human Resource Development program at Spring Arbor University is a respected, ethics-based program that cultivates a well-informed outlook with the hands-on skills and networking opportunities professionals need to advance in their careers.