Digital HR and employee wellness to propel HR industry in 2017

The Philippines’ 2016 third quarter economy grew by 7.1% year on year, driven mostly by the rapid investment surge, which is seen to continue in 2017.  The investment deluge translates to an increase in labor demand—and this means businesses need a sustainable talent acquisition approach, to attract and retain the best people.

“Flexible work arrangements, real-time feedback, and digital HR will drive the Philippine HR sector in 2017. Companies should be able to ride on the new talent management trends, to build and nurture their talent pool as they scale up in the coming year,” said Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, Global Head of Research at PageUp, a global talent management software provider offering SaaS solution.

PageUp has predicted the following HR trends in 2017.

An evolution in work redefinition

2017 will see a pronounced redefinition of work: The rise of the millennial generation is spurring a shift towards flexible work arrangements, while retiring baby boomers and moms returning to work increasingly opt for freelancing and contingent (part-time) work opportunities.

The gig economy, which promotes temporary positions and short-term engagements between companies and independent workers; crowdsourcing; and the rise of the on-demand economy characterized by apps such as Uber and Airbnb are also increasingly changing the business landscape.

The redefinition of ‘work’ has huge implications on organizations’ recruitment approach:  As linear relationships with candidates won’t cut it anymore, companies need to go beyond traditional sourcing strategies to maintain their internal and external talent networks. The new work models promote workforce agility, allowing organizations to solve market problems quickly through the strategic collaboration of internal and/or external talent.

This paradigm, however, poses challenges in recruitment, performance, and compliance: Human resource (HR) departments need to keep their finger on the pulse when scouting for internal and external talent with the right skills and appetite for various projects. Organizations that have clear visibility into their total talent network will be able to mobilize the right people, for the right roles, with the right skills, at the right time.

An acceleration in personalizing the employee experience

2017 will also see the acceleration of personalized talent management practices driven by employee experiences and new technologies. Shifting away from standardized best practices,  HR departments will increasingly adopt consumer marketing tactics such as segmentation to drive engagement and enrich the employee experience as employees  become the ‘new customers’.

The success of personalized talent management practices relies heavily on the availability and access to supporting, scalable technologies. Some organizations are already using ‘smart’ learning opportunities like machine learning, and talent management algorithms to customize learning content  for a better employee experience. HR departments need to develop an effective talent mobility strategy to keep employees engaged and to provide visibility into internal job opportunities and projects based on their interests and skills.

An explosion of real-time, continuous feedback

Organizations will need to foster a culture of continuous feedback to keep up with millennials’ expectations for regular, ongoing feedback and the increasingly fast-paced business environment.  Adopting tools that enable people to receive regular feedback from different sources, such as peers, customers or multiple managers for instance, will  become more and more important for boosting engagement among the growing millennial workforce and improving overall productivity. In doing so, organizations can develop a stronger workforce, and in turn,  positively impact their overall company goals.

HR technologies are already reinventing traditional performance management practices and have reached a new level of maturity. For instance, managers can easily capture and provide ongoing feedback to their teams, at any time, through smarter tools such as embedded activity streams and pulse surveys.

Performance Management Apps, which have continued to gain ground in 2016, formalize the process of providing and securing regular feedback from any mobile device. This technology will continue to see rapid adoption in 2017 as more and more organizations look to reinvent or complement the traditional annual performance review with ongoing, everyday feedback.

Sophisticated people analytics and digital HR to take data to new heights

Mature people analytics will empower HR to play a greater role in influencing executive-level decision-making, through richer insights on people productivity metrics than previously deemed possible.  Sophisticated people analytics reports go beyond typical HR data such as recruitment and retention metrics, and provide a holistic view of people productivity through a combination of operational, financial, and talent data.

Like most HR innovations today, technology is driving this shift and leading the sector further down the path of data-driven decision-making, with the ability to correlate people data to business performance, and in some cases predict business performance, as well as plan future workforce needs. In the coming year, what will matter most is how quickly and easily HR can access a multitude of people data and use them alongside other data types to improve business outcomes.

Along the same vein is the rise of digital HR. A plethora of new HR technology is shaping the current industry and forcing organizations to undergo digital transformation. The emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which mimics human decision-making processes through algorithms that infer and predict based on behavioral patterns, will foster smarter recruiting and talent management practices. From helping HR to customize the employee experience, to guiding future recruitment decisions through an analysis of star performers’ traits,  digital HR practices are injecting a data-driven approach into the current HR industry.

Well-being as a driver of performance & engagement

With factors such as new work models, a fast-paced society, and the need for continuous feedback changing how we get things done, organizations are working harder than ever before to keep people engaged, happy, and healthy.

Given the growing millennial workforce’s shifting expectations and appetite for flexibility, HR departments need to factor in wellness to drive performance and productivity in 2017. Focusing on well-being may mean cultivating a work ethos marked by work flexibility; measures that ensure people’s work fitness; a leave accrual cap, which encourages employees to take regular breaks; wellness workshops; and well-defined wellness goals/KPIs, which should be as important as professional goals/KPIs. Managers can likewise leverage  technology such as the popular Fitbit to set employee wellness targets and team challenges, and promote a culture of employee wellness within the organization.

Employee happiness and productivity can only be attained when employees feel that their well-being is in the organizations’ best interests. And this presents the HR industry with a very ripe opportunity to step up their efforts in this area in 2017.

What’s certain is that digital technology underpins all of these trends - driving some, supporting others and creating irreversible momentum for transformational change in HR.