HR Trends that Worked in 2017 and What to Expect for 2018

10 min read

In 2017, a decade's worth of technological advancements pushed HR into a modern, data-driven era. In 2018, the trends show HR professionals leveraging this technology to deliver a consumer-style and employee-friendly experience in hiring, onboarding, and other functions.

Using the latest technologies, forward-thinking companies have started implement hiring processes that are much more personalized, convenient, and take a human-first approach. These are just some of the 2017 HR trends that have invigorated HR trends for 2018.

What Worked in 2017

It goes without saying that HR departments can no longer ignore the importance of creating competitive benefits packages. Acquiring top talent is highly competitive.

Job seekers do not enjoy poor candidate experiences and won't hesitate to post feedback on the interview process online. This means that HR departments have had to reduce waiting times for candidates and also offer transparency into the status of their applications.

The point of this trend is to improve the company's brand reputation on sites such as Glassdoor. A bad HR hiring experience can also have a negative impact on prospective employees. When top-tier candidates have a good experience interviewing with your company, you increase the chances of them applying for other positions in the future.

Another trend that worked in 2017 was successfully managing a blended workforce. Today's freelance/gig economy has created a structure where many companies are hiring both freelance and full-time employees.

As a result, HR departments have had to ditch traditional models for hiring and managing talent to one that is more contemporary and flexible. To illustrate, digital tools are used such as cloud-based messaging and project management systems to ease collaboration between freelancers and full-time employees.

Then, there is the aspect of handling payments, answering questions, and assigning projects. What has worked is using an agile approach for recruiting and development. The objective is to operate quickly while leveraging the ability to manage unpredictability.

Big data also played a more pivotal role in 2017 in terms of screening and verifying candidates. There has been an increasing prominence around criminal history checks, credit history checks, driving checks, and more. The good news is big data is now much more affordable and accessible to businesses of all sizes.

As a result, HR managers have had the ability to use algorithms to improve their screening processes. Instead of taking applicants at their word about educational and employment history, HR departments have been using big data to enhance the accuracy of verifications.

Looking at 2018

Companies need HR departments to handle recruitment, safety issues, onboarding, pay issues, employee disputes, interview processes and more. In 2018, many 2017 trends will also be expanded upon. For example, the candidate experience will continue to be a focus for HR departments.

Candidates want more communication, human contact, timely replies, and notifications if they were not selected for the job. Here are just a few things job candidates hate:

  • No notice of position being filled
  • Lack of response from recruiters
  • Unclear instructions
  • Redundant applications
  • Vague job descriptions

You'll notice this almost transforms a job candidate into a consumer. But your product, in this case, is a satisfactory hiring experience. Today's job candidates have wide-ranging options for employment—especially in our digitized economy. So, they expect an employee-focused interview process.

The latest HR trends are also moving towards skill development. To keep employees engaged and happy, you must also help them grow along with your company. As the economy continues to improve, companies continue to have more competition for the best talent.

And, one way to keep top talent is by making them feel valued while helping them to prepare for their next promotion. This is regarded as an employment benefit where HR is responsible for identifying skill development opportunities and arranging training. 

Increase the Use of Technology

When you consider the fact that 37 percent of employees telecommute, then it goes without saying that the need for cloud-based work tools is rising. In addition, the gig economy along with remote workers has increased the need for streamlined communication, management, and payments from anywhere in the world.

When your company offers remote work, you open up your pool of potential candidates. Moreover, by offering remote work options to your full-time employees, you can improve job satisfaction since this can enable an improvement in work-life balance.

Recent trends in HR are focused on the use of more business intelligence tools for monitoring and cloud-based collaboration tools to enable real-time communication.

Personalized Employee Reviews

Employees want a human touch, they don't want to feel like a number. So, a trend to watch is HR engaging in more detailed and personalized employee reviews. As noted with other trends, the focus is on an employee-centered experience. Think of your employees as your consumers.

Unfortunately, many employees hate reviews because they are often vague without offering anything of value or statements they haven't already heard before. It's the same old story: reach your targets, how can I help you increase productivity, ask me questions any time, talk to more customers and on it goes.

Employee reviews have simply become another chance for managers to repeat the same things they've been saying every month. And, numerical ratings and letter grades will become a thing of the past. There is nothing detailed about a number or letter.

Not to mention, number and letters don't take into account job and employee differences. So, along with the above HR trends in 2018, more HR managers will tailor their reviews to become more like a conversation as opposed to an impersonal rating system.

As a result, they will veer towards a discussion-based process that gives employees more insight regarding areas of improvement and where they are doing well, increasing employees engagement.

Employee Wellness

The trend around employee wellness will continue throughout 2018. Yet, this is about more than physical fitness, it also encompasses financial wellness. HR trends in employee wellness are taking a more well-rounded and holistic view.

For example, some companies now offer a financial training and programs that can help teach employees how to save for emergencies and retirement. Moreover, organizations are making use of big data and artificial intelligence to help employees better track their fitness goals. Instead of hoping for well-being in the workplace, it is now expected.

Incorporate Gamification

Increasing employee engagement continues to boggle many HR departments. Yet, many are also finding that gamification works quite well for a variety of reasons. From marketing to hiring, candidates enjoy an aspect of gamification where they have the opportunity to increase their "scores."

Still, gamification can be used through a company smartphone app that plays like a game but embeds algorithms to keep track of necessary analytics. Even tests on cognitive abilities and critical skill sets can be converted into fun games.

It's a win-win as candidates feel more excited about the job process and HR managers get the data they need to make the right hiring decisions.

Final Thoughts

Based on the above, the latest HR trends are all about an increased use of technology for the purpose of creating a more employee-based and personable experience. Tools to provide more options during the hiring and employee retention process are also quite valuable going into 2018 and beyond.