Five more HR trends for 2018

Technology, performance, leadership development and demographics driving workplace changes

Five more HR trends for 2018
Brian Kreissl


By Brian Kreissl

Continuing on from where I left off last week, the following are five more HR trends I see being big in 2018.

The use of technology in training

Contrary to popular belief, traditional classroom learning in organizations isn’t dead. However, there is no doubt that e-learning, webinars, videos, podcasts, gamification and microlearning are taking the place of a lot of classroom training.

These types of learning have the advantage of being asynchronous and can be conducted remotely. While a great deal of e-learning programs can be bought off the shelf or customized from a vendor, employers themselves are increasingly developing online courses in-house.

Focusing on older employees

We have all heard how Canada has a rapidly aging population with fewer entrants into the labour force, along with the abolition of mandatory retirement and changing attitudes towards aging, work and retirement. At the same time, more baby boomers are beginning to retire and discrimination against older workers persists and may even be starting at earlier ages than in the past, particularly in relation to outdated stereotypes about those over 45 supposedly not being comfortable with technology.

While some of these trends would seem to be contradictory, all of the above issues and developments point to a greater focus on the needs and challenges of older workers. I predict 2018 will be the year when employers and society start paying more attention to people in the second half of their careers. I also believe we are going to start to see more legal cases and news stories focusing on age discrimination. 

Performance consulting

Workplace performance and learning is increasingly being recognized as a methodology for learning and development in organizations. The idea is that learning should have a positive impact on individual and organizational performance.

Performance consulting is a discipline that takes a system-wide approach to improving performance by examining what people do in their jobs and then determining what skills, abilities, knowledge and competencies are required to be successful in the role. It examines both personal and organizational factors impacting performance.

While this field has been around for a while, I believe it is set for major growth as organizations take a more targeted approach to learning and development and focus more on learning that enhances the bottom line.

Leadership development

For far too long, many organizations have taken a haphazard approach to succession planning and talent management in general. Because the job market was relatively poor and budgets had been cut for learning and development programs, many organizations looked to the external market to find the necessary talent to fill vacancies for key leadership positions.

Too many employers relied on other organizations to train and develop leaders on their behalf. Companies then began to try to find external candidates to step into leadership roles who could be successful more or less on their first day.

The problem with this approach is leaders who are hired from the external market lack organizational knowledge and an appreciation for organizational culture, norms, values, history. It also sends a message to employees that the organization doesn’t promote from within.

While I understand it is sometimes necessary to appoint a leader from outside the organization – and there can even be certain advantages to acquiring leadership talent externally – I believe organizations are now starting to understand the need to grow their leadership “bench strength” internally.

Mobile apps for managers and employees

I have heard a few times in recent years how many jobseekers would like to be able to apply for jobs using their smartphones. This actually surprises me because I would find it hard to copy and paste my resumé into an applicant tracking system (ATS) using a mobile phone, and it would be a pain having to type all the information to create a profile from scratch.

But the truth is many people these days rarely, if ever, use desktop or laptop computers. Several years ago the popularity of mobile devices surpassed computers for accessing the Internet.

This has important implications for HR not only with respect to talent acquisition, but also in relation to all phases of the employment lifecycle. Managers and employees will increasingly want to be able to perform employment-related tasks on their mobile devices such as requesting and approving time off, logging their hours for time and attendance, completing performance appraisals, accessing and changing their personal information and making compensation decisions.

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