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HR Services: Category Trends for 2017

While the emergence of people analytics is set to be a game changer in HR services in 2017, decision makers within HR departments will be at loggerheads to identify the right mix of talent, keep up with changing workforce demographics and introduce innovative methods in keeping their existing workforce motivated and engaged.

Human resources departments are increasingly focusing on hiring PhD statisticians, computer engineers and data scientists to work on “people analytics,” apply data science and better understand employee behavior regarding the firm and its incentives and policies. Companies are significantly investing in analytics professionals to determine employee retention and retraction rates, predict employee fraud and even determine patterns of email traffic and communications to analyze manager performance. Recently, IBM used people analytics to predict retention risk for employees, providing notification to managers and helping them take necessary course correction − saving the firm millions of dollars. HR managers should expect to see the hype become reality in this space during 2017.

With such an increased focus on technology, there is also great demand for professionals who can handle and secure these technological platforms. Thus, careers in cybersecurity are booming, with the industry expected to grow from $ 75 billion in 2015 to $ 170 billion by 2020, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million workers to take up newly created roles. By 2020, more organizations are predicted to have C-level suit roles for robotics. Chief Robotics Officers will play a significant role in managing a firm’s strategy for robotics innovation and automation in the coming years, and will translate these strategies to customer-facing activities to improve organizational performance.

Emphasis on a blended workforce is also an emerging trend, allowing for freelance workers to partner with permanent employees. Several surveys expect that freelancers will constitute around 40% of the workforce, allowing HR departments to hire on-demand, cut costs of healthcare coverage and manage without the limitations of borders, as freelancers operate from remote locations. The millennial generation is expected to further dominate the workplace with their refreshing outlook on business demands and increased proficiency in technical expertise, required at managerial roles. Generation Z is tipped to join them and will put added pressures on HR to transform office space, allow for work hour flexibility and align company interests with that of the employee goals.

Gamification as a tool has made recruitment more efficient. For instance, a new women-led start up, Pymetrics, is gaining popularity as it includes implementation of both neuroscience principles and big data methods. Using scientific research, it helps employees identify their strengths and match them with certain types of jobs by playing games, and has eliminated the risk of biased recruitment from both companies and employees. It has also increased the possibility of employee retention by 50%. Randstad, a top staffing firm, has also invested in Pymetrics, the gamification pioneer. Gamification is likely be used in training processes as well to enhance corporate learning environments. About 25% of new age employees want to integrate virtual reality into the workplace, and utilization of VR product technology for employee training can make it more engaging. Firms like General Mills are using VR to give potential employees a walkthrough of their offices and explore their oil-and-gas recovery machines. Firms are also moving toward more innovative employee benefits and pay packages to keep up with changing times.

Firms are increasingly trying to attract the right people by strategic brand messaging and content to target new talent with a multi-channel approach through social media, engaging them on the platforms where they spend maximum time. Firms are also making use of video and blogging to tell brand stories and attract talent, bringing about a change to a firm’s recruiting capabilities. Companies like AT&T are using cellphone messaging to enhance candidate communication during the application process and encourage asynchronous video interview applications. Talent acquisition is also using technological support to manage the impersonal and transactional aspects of recruiting to allow HR teams more time to focus on the more personal aspects of the hiring process, build relationships and develop a strong talent pool. Talent CRM solutions are expected to be at the heart of HR strategies during 2017.

In the recruitment space, recent mergers have been driven by domestic companies which are either focusing on expanding geographically or entering into new verticals. For instance, in August 2016, Randstad acquired Monster − specializing in building recruitment technologies, media and platforms, and the deal is expected to help Randstad source talent for its clients in a better way. Randstad is using acquisitions to increase leverage and has a target of deploying £700 million of excess capital. Similarly, Adecco acquired UK-based Penna in May 2016 to revive its stagnant recruitment segment in the UK.

The past year has seen several unexpected geopolitical events predicted to impact several industries due to rising uncertainties. The new US administration is expected to bring about radical policy changes that will affect the HR industry. These include possible scrapping of the Affordable Care Act that will definitely affect employee health benefits, and HR departments restricting the employee payroll, scrapping of federal overtime rule (which will allow states to decides if employee work hours must be regulated), retention of the minimum wage to $7.25, increased tax benefits for employees including making insurance premiums and child care costs tax deductible, and a freeze on the hiring of federal employees in order to cut costs.

In Europe, Brexit has added pressure on HR departments in UK, as they are required to manage visas and adhere to new regulations for EU workers who will be considered on par with non-EU migratory workers, thus increasing administrative workload. Firms are likely to integrate software such as Human Capital Management (HCM) that manage these compliance issues effectively. The increased influx of migratory workers from war-torn economically unstable countries is expected to further increase diversity in the workplace, and might give rise to corporate social initiatives to aid them in rehabilitation in their host countries.

Rising pressure from external environments coupled with the changing landscape of the internal workforce is expected to keep HR sourcing managers on their toes in 2017.

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