Global Panel Trends Report


About the Special Expertise Panels’ Trends

The lists of key trends each panel produces in its subject area make use of panel members’ insights to uncover a wide range of HR-related trends. These lists assist SHRM in creating forward-looking information and content for our members in forums such as the online HR Focus Areas, research articles, reports and surveys, and through media and outreach efforts. SHRM would like to acknowledge the efforts of each of the members of the Special Expertise Panels.

Disclaimer: The views presented on this report are those of the members of the SHRM Special Expertise Panels and do not necessarily represent the views of SHRM. All content is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a guaranteed outcome. The Society for Human Resource Management cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions or any liability resulting from the use or misuse of any such information.

Global Panel Trends

  1. Technology will be applied more ubiquitously in all parts of the global business and supply chains. It will need to change to keep up with the speed of business. New formats for information sharing will need to be created. The increasing use of robots in different industries will affect ways of working and management policies and procedures in manufacturing. The Internet of Things is/will influence future business models and practice, even business structure and HR practice. Modes of business communication will move away from e-mail and voicemail toward instantaneous contact via texting, IM and social media such as Twitter. This “in-your-face,” see-immediately communication will demand quicker response times and a shift from traditional response delays. Emerging countries are advancing more rapidly due to acquisition of newest technology upon which to build their infrastructure. Businesses need to be open to doing business differently than their traditional methods, and to capture untapped talent across the globe, they will need to increase their focus on the use of adaptive technologies as a way to reap diversity and inclusion.

  2. Changing political and social environments will affect the ability of companies to work freely across borders and to maintain talent in unstable regions. National-level workforces will seek global market equality. Economic and sociopolitical changes are massive influences on business (e.g., inflation in China, the Arab Spring, crime in Mexico).

  3. Predictive analytics in HR is defining decision-making in organizations. Greater demand will be placed on HR to deliver data-driven business insights. HR as a global function has to stop insisting on its presence/importance and to finally start delivering simple and optimal solutions. Multinational organizations get tired from HR trying to justify its existence; they’ve realized quite some time ago that HR is a key function in organizational effectiveness, so it’s time for HR to clearly demonstrate through data-based evidence of success stories how HR’s relevant actions directly affect the bottom line. Simplifying HR language and process would contribute to this. 

  4. Mergers and acquisitions across countries require different levels of due diligence because of different legislative frameworks. Global companies are continually restructuring, merging, divesting, creating new forms of organization and changing the boundaries of “in/out,” affecting employees, processes and corporate culture. 

  5. Companies will need to be more aggressive/proactive in defining their global talent management strategy to attract and retain the best talent available. The next generation of talent will be found outside organizations’ home country’s four walls. However, immigration requirements are negatively affecting organizations’ ability to strategically staff their facilities. Increased emigration of young high-potentials to increase/enrich their career options will necessitate that companies offer more opportunities for career growth. At the same time, MNCs need creative options to provide global pension, payroll and benefits to streamline mobility of employees across international borders. The degree of difficulty of entering a country from an HR standpoint revolves around the 3 Cs: compliance, cost and change. There will be need for greater efficiency in global talent attraction and sourcing. As the stakeholder scrutiny and volatility of the global economy are increasing, as equally as limited availability continues of highly qualified and cross-culturally minded professionals (especially in STEM fields), it becomes imperative to increase speed, quality and risk mitigation in global talent attraction and sourcing. As a result, there is an emerging pressure on HR/recruiting functions to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy in the process, speed up attraction and selection, yet stay compliant with international labor regulations and data privacy laws across the world. Workforce planning and analysis are becoming more critical than ever before and will continue to be in the future.

  6. The loss of institutional knowledge due to the aging/retiring workforce will require new “pre-retirement” programs and policies. The multigenerational workforce brings varied opportunities and challenges because the spectrum of compensation, culture, and incentive and benefits strategy is different.

  7. Globalization 3.0 will continue to change the way organizations work. In line with the rapidly changing pace of organizations, greater flexibility and adaptability will be required from HR to respond.

  8. Domestic and international business travelers are creating compliance issues for tax and payroll reporting. Short-term business travelers working in a country may create a business presence and subject the company to corporate income or the individual to personal income tax. There is a risk of establishing a presence in a country where an organization doesn’t intend to have a legal entity. The trend for enforcement of breach on these issues is increasing, with governments and tax authorities looking more closely at the situation. Where there is no tax treaty between two countries, individual business travelers increase exposure and risk even more. There is also a technological gap of tools available in the market to administer these arrangements, and as a result either a tremendous amount of customization or manual administration is required.

  9. Companies collecting and processing personal data, particularly of EU citizens, must have policies in place on the use of such data. There is an increased focus on data privacy laws overall and the potential for leaks and breaches. Employee and customer data breaches pose a big reputational risk to a company. With the rise of new talent analytics, the kind of information that gets collected and how it is stored, accessed, used and reported must be handled very carefully. 

  10. There is a worldwide attack on the contingent workforce. Countries and governments are broadening the definition of what a “joint employer” or “co-employer” means. Continued commingling and cultural contamination are pushing more level playing fields (e.g., employee conditions) that are eroding outsourcing arbitrage. As the shift away from employment and to freelancing continues, intellectual property rights will expand and management challenges will increase while more and more countries will add legal protections for workers (employees and freelancers) around content creation and ownership. More countries will require benefits for freelancers (such as the change in UK law for auto-enrollment into pension plans for UK freelancers, and the requirement in Australia to pay into pension plans for freelancers).


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