In order to help their organizations grow and thrive, human resources professionals must stay up to date on the latest factors impacting the workforce. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers projects that Millennials will make up nearly 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020, and this tech-driven generation is impacting the way companies operate and changing how they relate to their employees. For human resources teams, this translates to a variety of new challenges and opportunities.
Data and Analytics
The rise of Big Data has given companies valuable new tools to meet goals and overcome challenges in all business functions, including human resources. HR professionals can leverage data and analytics to examine workforce trends and refine their strategies to meet changing employee interests. Data analysis can offer valuable insight to help optimize recruitment strategies, compensation, and even employee workspaces. Furthermore, Big Data has enhanced HR professionals’ ability to monitor employee performance and attendance, as well as to solicit feedback via surveys. All of this information is integral to understanding employee priorities and inspiring improvements that benefit the entire organization.
As data and analytics become more integral to human resources activities, so too will knowledge of data science. This will likely lead HR teams to bring on analytics professionals, and it could also encourage closer collaboration with IT.
Flexible Work-Life Integration
While technology has offered companies new ways to carry out and optimize their operations, it has also contributed to a heightened level of employee connectivity. As technology enables employees to be available to their managers and engaged in their work more outside of traditional office hours, the concept of a healthy work-life balance has begun to shift.
In the coming years, organizations will begin to view work as more of an action than a destination. Rather than associating engagement and productivity solely with time spent in the office, companies are likely to adopt more goal-oriented approaches to performance analysis.
This is largely in response to employees’ growing desire for flexibility. As technology makes it possible to work efficiently outside of a traditional office environment, employees hope to take advantage of the option for a flexible work-life balance. In fact, Cisco’s Connected World Technology Report revealed that employees consider flexibility their second-highest priority when examining job prospects, second only to salary. Furthermore, 66 percent of Millennials in the United States believe that flexible and remote work models give companies a competitive advantage over firms with more rigid, traditional scheduling. Companies and their HR teams will likely respond by allowing employees more flexible schedules with the option to telecommute two or three days a week, or even by creating permanent work-from-home positions. According to a recent study funded by Polycom, 90 percent of US businesses are choosing to create or expand telecommuting options.
In addition, the rise of flexible work configurations is also affecting how companies think about office space. As employees spend less time in the office, companies have incentives to adopt smaller spaces suitable for multiple purposes. At the same time, they will likely seek new ways to make employees’ time in the office more meaningful and worthwhile.
Research by Forbes suggests that employees value distraction-free workspaces, lounge areas, and flexible furniture in an office environment. Human resources teams are expected to both meet employee needs and generate savings by leading shifts to smaller, more collaborative workspaces. This will go beyond the current trend of open-layout offices, and will instead encompass multifaceted spaces that can serve as recreational areas, collaborative environments, and functional workspaces at the same time. It is estimated that by 2020, the average amount of office space per employee will fall to 150 square feet—a large decline from 400 square feet in 1985, and a clear indication of shifting human resources trends.
The Partnership between Marketing and Human Resources
Several emerging trends in the human resources sphere relate to the consumerization of HR—that is, presenting the same organizational image to current team members, prospective hires, and consumers alike. As companies work to create a unified brand identity across both customer and employee channels, human resources and marketing professionals are likely to collaborate on communications and promotional efforts.
For example, GE’s 2015 ad campaign entitled “What’s the Matter with Owen” seamlessly blended marketing and talent acquisition. The entertaining series of ads featured the fictional GE programmer Owen, who has trouble sharing the success of his new job with friends and family who mistakenly believe that GE only performs manufacturing. The ad campaign not only informed consumers of GE’s new position in the digital sector, but also promoted the firm as a new opportunity for tech-savvy Millennial job seekers. GE included links to its career section in its YouTube advertisements, and the collaborative campaign resulted in 66 percent month-over-month increase in the company’s recruitment website traffic.
Some companies, such as Lincoln Financial Group, have combined the responsibilities of marketing and human resources under a single business division. These combined departments oversee traditional HR functions like talent acquisition, in addition to brand development and corporate social responsibility initiatives. In this way, they work to ensure the delivery of a consistent brand value proposition through all internal and external channels.
While 2016 certainly won’t see the complete integration of marketing and human resources, the two will likely engage on a smaller scale through shared talent-acquisition campaigns and shared initiatives combining brand awareness and employee engagement. There has been a recent increase in brand advocacy programs that encourage employees to share contented related to their companies on social media. Research by Edelman Trust Barometer suggests that this kind of employee engagement can make a real difference, as 49 percent of those surveyed believed that employees ranked higher in a company’s perception than key executives or PR departments. Moreover, the study found that approximately half of all employees are already discussing their companies on social media.