Look ahead at HR trends for 2018

By Archana Jerath January 30, 2018

As the new year commences, it is time to look ahead at what HR professionals might expect. Will the global economy show continuing signs of improvement? Will Africa show a faster growth rate than Asia? Will we need to mobilize talent faster than before? Are the competitors going to hire more?

These are just a few questions that are on the minds of organizations. So let us take a closer look at several 2018 trends and what we should start planning for, so that we are on track to meet the significant goals that are being set for 2020.

  1. Finding the right talent - With some sectors getting ready to grow at a breakneck speed and some others also building on the investments made this year, finding the right talent will be an important aspect . That also means that the war for talent will continue, and possibly become more complex given emerging sectors and organizations that have entered the fray.

  2. Upskill, Reskill, Upskill - A recent news report showed how reskilling at least 15-20 times is going to be a regular requirement for millennial workers. It is evident that acquiring new skills will be the norm in 2018. Keeping constantly upgraded about what is happening in the world, and not just one's area of expertise, will be a key trend in 2018. Organizations and learning practitioners have a significant role to play in this context. They can shape talent to suit business needs, or struggle with talent that has high potential but limited skills. More organizations are realizing this and exploring avenues to ensure that their current employees do not become redundant.

  3. Online Learning - Just as reskilling becomes a trend, online learning has emerged as a great way to help employees learn. So far, some organizations have been using it effectively. But there is tremendous potential to use this learning approach, especially with a younger workforce. 2018 is likely to see a rise in this area with more organizations using technologies that support online learning.

  4. HR Chatbots - Chatbots are already in place, primarily for customer service and support roles. 2018 could be the year of HR Chatbots ! Employees need assistance and employers need to free up the time of their HR team from tactical work. So chatbots are the right answer to manage both these things in a balanced way. Organizations may also realize that the role the Chatbots play can go beyond resume sifting.

  5. Flexible work arrangements - New mothers and older workers are  re-entering the workforce Younger employees want work hours that give them time for life outside work. Women are returning after career breaks.  Many individuals are care-givers for their elderly parents. With this influx of talent, the requirement is to have flexible work arrangements that fit in new employees. Many organizations are accepting this fact, because this can be a game-changer from a retention perspective. They stand to lose a lot of great talent if they follow traditional work arrangements.

  6. Employee Experience - Employees are no longer only people whose data or transactional requirements are to be managed by HR. They are the most powerful advantage any organization has over its competitors. HR's role is therefore being revisited and reshaped to ensure that it works towards improving an employee's overall experience. It starts with the interactions at the interview stage and remains a focus area until the employee exits. Being a nurturer and ensuring that relationships are built with employees is the new normal for HR. Giving them the right experience of belonging to a world-class organization or a path-breaking enterprise is the role of HR in 2018.

  7. Global Leaders - As we saw in the past year, there is a rise in the number of global leaders. Global leaders are those who are geographically mobile, bring a world-view to their jobs and teams, and redefine the parameters of traditional leadership. They are inclusive and collaborative. There have been such leaders in the past, but few and far between. More companies are realizing the need to develop such leaders to sustain their businesses.

  8. Community Focus - Whether it is the environment, education, governance, women's rights or any social justice aspect of our world today, organizations are increasingly looking to have a community focus. This is going to gain momentum in 2018 as we work toward making the world more sustainable. HR as the people function has a big role to play here. Ensuring that this parameter fits into people processes, such as assessment, employee deployment on projects and competency frameworks is HR's job. Through this, it can ensure that the organization's employees are not only truly responsible citizens, but also have the potential to become empathic leaders.

  9. AI in HR - AI's full potential has not yet been explored in HR. It is being seen as the best approach to engage and retain employees by using a combination of AI powered tools along with the human element. The link between AI and people data that we collect from various sources is clearly defined. The most effective way to leverage this link is to use it for decision making. Hiring, training, engaging - all kinds of people-related decisions can be made in a more data-supported, credible manner with AI. We anticipate seeing this trend emerging in 2018.

  10. Continuous Performance Management - Performance review and management will not remain restricted to a once-a-year process. It will also go beyond appraisals to become performance management throughout the year. Employees who are great performers will need guidance on how to take on bigger roles. Those who are lagging in this area might need more mentoring and support if they have potential. Those who are disengaged or not performing at all might be asked to leave. 2018 is about continuous measurement, so that any course correction that needs to be done can be done immediately. Organizations cannot spend another year taking decisions at a slow pace.

2018 will be a crucial year for businesses. Any of the goals that organizations have planned to reach by 2020 or even 2025 will have their roots set in 2018. Working towards those will become a priority. Given that situation, HR has to accelerate its pace of involvement with business even more. Its contribution to business will need to become more impactful than ever before. Talent will be the biggest driver of new growth, and that needs to start now. 



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