4 Hot Topics in HR

Ever feel like we’re living in a science fiction novel? With all the talk of AI, automation and machine learning, it can be easy to forget about the human side of work. But as we consider hot topics in HR, technological developments are only part of the picture. Most company leaders and employees are still focused on the human Talent that powers their organizations. In fact, according to our recent Workplace Intelligence Report, Talent-related issues rank as two of the top three business concerns.

Our current knowledge-based workplaces are fueled by creativity, productivity and engagement. But these qualities require constant care and attention. Since 2010, labor productivity has been lower than at any previous time, according to the US Department of Labor. And 85% of employees around the world are not engaged or actively disengaged from their jobs.

What are these HR current issues and what implications do they have for Talent professionals? Here are four hot topics in HR.

1. Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Attracting and retaining top Talent is not a new topic, but it remains one of the current issues in human resources management. There are a number of factors contributing to concerns about attracting and retaining Talent, including sustained record-low global unemployment, a widening skills gap and steadily declining average tenure. In 2018, the average tenure across all demographics was 4.2 years. However, this could be as low as one year on average for younger workers.

A significant percentage of respondents to the Greenhouse Workplace Intelligence Report – 57% – say employee retention is a meaningful metric for their employer. More than 50% of survey takers on both the employee and employer sides report that employees can easily transition into other departments to gain experience, sending a strong signal that internal mobility is gaining traction as a retention tactic. Yet despite this focus on retention, many companies are falling short when it comes to basic recruiting practices. Only 39% of Workplace Intelligence Report respondents have received interview training, and the process used to guide them to a hiring decision is mostly unstructured. Interview guides are used only 40% of the time, and there is little structure or consistency to the questions being asked or the way interviewer feedback is captured. Nearly 20% of survey respondents claim that hiring is completely unstructured in their companies. This is a major area of opportunity since companies can experience 300x revenue growth when they have excellent recruiting practices.

2. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) continues to be a trending topic in HR. Companies feel increasing pressure and motivation to change their hiring, compensation and promotion practices to be more equitable and inclusive. According to the Workplace Intelligence Report, diversity is driving action for 43% of respondents, pay equality for 42% of respondents, gender equality for 31% of respondents and inclusion for 29%.

A number of inclusive hiring practices have gained popularity recently. The “Ban the box” movement, for example, advocates removing the box from applications where candidates indicate if they have a criminal record. This movement has already resulted in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and 150 cities and counties banning the box. Similarly, many companies are now dropping college degree requirements to be more inclusive of candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. Fueled by both internal decisions and external factors like state legislation, many employers no longer ask candidates about their current salary since that may put them in an unfair position when it comes to future compensation. We can expect these types of inclusive practices to gain momentum in the coming months and years.

3. Employer Brand and Connection to Meaning

Employer brand has been a hot topic in HR ever since sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor bridged the information gap between employers and job seekers. But there’s a slight twist here – employers now feel pressure to connect their brand to a deeper meaning or purpose. Consumers are increasingly values-driven and employees are no different. The authors of the Deloitte 2019 Human Capital Trends Report put it this way:

“… the concept of employee experience falls short in that it fails to capture the need for meaning in work that people are looking for. We see an opportunity for employers to refresh and expand the concept of “employee experience” to address the “human experience” at work – building on an understanding of worker aspirations to connect work back to the impact it has on not only the organization, but society as a whole.”

We also see this trend reflected in the Workplace Intelligence Report: 61% of respondents agree or strongly agree that it’s important to find meaning in their work beyond the contribution made to their employer. This is not unique to one particular age group – all generations in the workforce want a sense of purpose in their daily employment. It’s now the responsibility of companies to communicate the purpose and meaning of work in their organization to prospective candidates and current employees.

4. Aligning Talent and Business

There’s a clear divide between traditional HR departments and the new People teams. While traditional HR focuses on ensuring compliance and decreasing liability for the organization, the main objective of People teams is to maximize the value of employees. These new People teams are more than a service organization – they have the ability to drive business results.

But aligning Talent and Business functions doesn’t happen automatically – it takes effort, intention and a willingness to change. In order to speak the language of executives and be considered strategic contributors to the business, Talent professionals now recognize the importance of using data and metrics to measure their success and identify areas for improvement. Luckily, taking a data-driven approach to Talent has never been easier, thanks to reporting and analytics functions in HR software. Talent professionals can now easily track their recruiting team’s performance, their onboarding effectiveness, the likelihood of employee turnover and much more. Learn more about some of the latest HR technology in The 5 Modern HR Innovations Improving the Employee Lifecycle.

While this brief venture into hot topics in HR demonstrates just how much is changing, it also affirms that many of the areas we’ve been focusing on over the past few years aren’t going anywhere. No matter how much technology transforms our workplaces, HR will always revolve around the humans powering our organizations.

Want to do a deep dive into any of these hot topics? We’ll be covering each of them in detail during the Greenhouse OPEN event in New York City from June 12 to 13. Explore the Greenhouse OPEN 2019 sessions and speakers and register here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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