5 Trends in Human Resources Development in 2019

Human resources professionals sitting together against a blank wall
Human resources professionals sitting together against a blank wall

The contemporary job market is in an exciting phase. In addition to a relatively low unemployment rate, a 2018 Gallup Poll reported that more than half of American employees are in the process of looking for a new job. Human resource (HR) professionals must be equipped to keep up with this demand, as well as other business initiatives. Spring Arbor University’s online MBA in Human Resources Development offers a robust curriculum, preparing graduates to be aware of real-world business including emerging trends in human resources. Today’s article will shed light on human resource trends in 2019 and how professionals can stay ahead of them.


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Redefining Brand

Online reviews and websites featuring employee feedback put pressure on companies to maintain a decent image. How a company is perceived ties into their branding. A corporate “brand” goes beyond the products and services that are offered- it consists of the emotional and psychological associations that the company produces in the minds of its customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. In other words, public opinion matters. 

A negative company perception can affect HR, making it difficult to find and retain employees. In a recent poll, 72 percent of recruiting agencies agreed that a company's brand or image can have a direct impact on hiring. 

To counter the effects of a negative company perception from a human resources perspective, a company may take steps to redefine its brand image in the mind of employees. For example, if a company has a poor reputation among employees as having a very "top-down" culture, HR may pursue various employee engagement initiatives that build community, foster inclusiveness and create ways for employees to share thoughts and ideas. 

These types of initiatives can result in positive online reviews that impact the way a company is perceived by the general public.

Efforts to invest in a company's brand image through internal initiatives can pay off. LinkedIn, for example, noted that businesses with an attractive public image can save more than 40% in the recruitment process thanks to the need for less advertising for open positions. 

Modeling New Management

Management today emphasizes interactive leadership styles to promote employee engagement. This trend extends to human resources, meaning business leaders are trying to find ways to add professionals to their organization that can model abilities such as:

  • Effectively coach individuals and teams to build trust and rapport
  • Encourage open feedback to improve internal practices
  • Appreciate the unique qualities of each employee under their direct supervision

Human resources leaders attempt to cultivate this culture by tailoring interview questions at the hiring stage. Gauging abilities and assessing candidates for their managerial style early on can help determine their fit within the organization. 

Fostering Flexibility

Another rising human resources trend in 2019 is a focus on considering employees as an investment. This might mean:

  • Developing effective communication and feedback loops for professional support 
  • Encouraging an employee’s professional development through training opportunities, workshops, or mentorships for potential movement within the company  
  • Initiating employee wellness programs that promote better work-life balance, and also help employees in other aspects of their lives

Companies are shifting to a more accommodating and supportive management style- and HR is the frontline managing employee-initiatives. This is due to trying to fulfill two primary business needs:

  1. Retention- employees are more likely to work for an employer that is invested in them 
  2. Engagement- employees are more invested in their work when they feel supported 

The 2019 State Workplace Empathy study performed by Businessolver.com revealed that 90% of employees surveyed were more likely to stay at their job if they felt the company used empathetic practices. These may include building interpersonal skills, stress reducing activities, and the accessibility of time management tools. Furthermore, 80% of those same employees stated they were more likely to go above and beyond - for example, work longer hours - if they felt their workplace embodied an empathetic work ethic. 

Developing Diversity

Improving employee diversity has been a widespread corporate initiative for many years; however the concept of “diversity” in HR is trending toward an even more inclusive sense of the word. Going beyond racial, ethnic,and gender identities, some diversity initiatives may include:

  • Embracing a wider array of training or educational levels
    • More companies are considering candidates who offer valuable work experience and are flexible with traditional education credentials. By opening up the candidate pool, recruiters are tapping into a more diverse set of qualifications.
  • The potential for more remote workers
    • Nearly 4 million Americans worked remotely in 2018, allowing companies to tap into a wealth of virtual talent who otherwise might not be able to accept an office position due to distance or other life constraints. 

This effort not only mirrors the diversity of the larger population, but also helps an organization stay in front of the shifting needs of the modern workforce.

Data-Driven Decisions

One of the most revolutionary emerging trends in human resources is the use of data to drive decision making in the workplace. A survey performed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, for example, noted that more than 80% of business organizations were slated to add or amplify their use of data within their human resources teams by the end of 2018. 

As a human resources leader, you may implement these strategies in a few ways:

  • For job candidates: 
    • You can use their online presence as a preliminary introduction to their skills and motivations
    • You can incorporate an employee skills assessment as part of the pre- or post-interview process to gain additional insights as to their skills and working style
  • For new hires: 
    • You can implement an array of surveys that can garner important data on the quality and effectiveness of aspects such as the onboarding process, job training, access to professional development, and more
    • You can reach out over specific time intervals to assess an employee’s progress in a particular area of their job or to gauge their skills for a potential role shift within an organization

Incorporating data into human resources helps recruiters find ideal candidates, and also helps organizations keep a pulse on employee performance. 

Staying Current with Trends

Today’s human resources trends are leaning towards making corporate life more collegial for its employees. This shift benefits companies in the long-term, boosting employee engagement, retention, and productivity.  Students in Spring Arbor’s online MBA in Human Resources Development program graduate ready to make significant contributions to modern business. Offering a robust curriculum rooted in Christian ethical practice, students are equipped to shape the evolution of human resource development. To learn more, contact us today. 


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Zoe Harte, “The Future is Now: Three HR Trends That Will Transform Your Organization in 2019.” Forbes, 30 January 2019. Accessed 7 August 2019 from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/01/30/the-future-is-now-three-hr-trends-that-will-transform-your-organization-in-2019/#3d42e4e9e9ce

Shpe Hyken, “Half of U.S. Employees Are Actively Searching For A New Job.” Forbes, 1 July 2018. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2018/07/01/half-of-u-s-employees-are-actively-searching-for-a-new-job/#601e215179c6

Steffen Maier, “Top 4 HR Trends for 2019.” Business.com., 5 January 2019. Accessed 7 August 2019 from: https://www.business.com/articles/top-4-hr-trends-for-2019/

Bernard Marr, “Why Data is HR’s Most Important Asset.” Forbes, 13 April 2018. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/04/13/why-data-is-hrs-most-important-asset/#d31eca06b0fd

Kathryn Moody et al. “10 trends that will shape HR in 2019.” HRDive. 7 January 2019. Accessed 7 August 2019 from: https://www.hrdive.com/news/10-trends-that-will-shape-hr-in-2019/545343/

Courtney Moran, “HR Trends: 5 Major Human Resource Innovations in 2019.” 7 December 2019. Accessed 7 August 2019 from: https://learn.g2.com/trends/2019-hr

“State of the American Workplace.” Gallup. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx

“10 Employer Branding Stats You Need To Know.” Theundercoverrecruiter.com. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/employer-branding-infographic/

“2019 State of Workplace Empathy.” Businesssolver.com. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://www.businessolver.com/resources/businessolver-empathy-monitor

“3.9 Million Americans - Including Freelancers - Now Work from Home At Least Half the Week.” Small Business Trends, 2 April 2018. Accessed 12 August 2019 from: https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/04/2018-remote-work-statistics.html