Saturday, November 19, 2011

Project Social: Trendy HR Trends

Dave Ryan and I were talking last week about what to post about next and I suggested HR challenges.  I made this suggestion partly out of selfish reasons – I was working on an HR trends presentation at the time and was hoping to get a ‘twofer’ out of it – and partly out of curiosity about how he would approach the topic from 'the HR trenches.'

He was all over this idea ('Hmmmn.  That could work...') so here are some cool HR trends to challenge and inspire you in 2012.  Be sure to also read what Dave has to say over at HR Official and Lyn Hoyt also weighed in at The HR Bacon Hut.

Trend #1: Globalisation (aka 'If You Spell it With a Z You're Not Global') – Even if your company isn’t technically global, the global economy impacts you.  Not only can people all over the world consume your products, companies all over the world may be competing for your market share.  If you are a global company with multiple HR systems around the world, your main challenges are probably inconsistent processes and insufficient workforce information.  Inconsistent processes are expensive, inefficient and may lead to compliance violations.  And unless you have a global solution that allows you to track people, work and costs in one place getting timely, reliable workforce information out of multiple systems is a lot like whack-a-mole.  Only in reverse.

Trend #2: Contingent Workers (aka ‘Diversity’ and ‘Who invited all these people?’) – The modern workforce is global, multi-generational, virtual and… 20% contingent!  According to current estimates it’ll be 40% by 2019.  This is a bit awkward for HR since most HR solutions weren’t designed to track contingent workers in a meaningful way.  Which is fine when you only have a few contingent workers but as the percentage of contingent labor approaches 40%  that’s a fairly sizeable knowledge gap.  Where are they?  What do they cost?  What do they do?  Wouldn’t you like to know?

Trend #3: Business Alignment (aka 'Show Me the Money') – Before your eyes glaze over, I read recently that HR people don’t act, talk or think like business people.  What they know is compliance and administration and they hire other people who know compliance and administration.  Ouch.  I've met and worked with plenty of forward thinking and businesslike HR professionals so I’m not sure this criticism is fair but I am sure that business alignment matters.  That means you don’t just roll out training and development, you do so with a higher goal of building critical skills in a particular workforce segment.  You also define success criteria before you do it and you measure how you did after.  It's all about bottom line impact.

Trend #4: Workforce Development (aka 'War for Talent') – Companies struggle with critical skills gaps around the world.  According to a recent Manpower survey only 27% of senior HR executives surveyed felt their business had the talent it needed.  Future business leaders will need a new set of skills, among which being able to lead global, diverse and virtual teams will figure highly.  Companies are considering a variety of strategies, such as tapping into previously underutilized talent pools (working moms, older workers, etc.) with new job deals and incentives as well as overseas assignments and mentoring programs.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter talent management, today it’s all about managing a fast and changeable ‘portfolio’ of targeted talent management strategies.

Trend #5: Sustainability (aka 'Let's Not Kill Our Only Planet') - Corporate sustainability has risen up the ranks on the executive agenda not only as stockholders, consumers and employees drive awareness but also as companies begin to realize the enormous cost of data in terms of physical, human and energy resources.  Sustainability is one of the trends driving Cloud computing adoption since sharing computing resources is significantly cheaper and more efficient.  This is really important but the key takeaway for HR?  The top things that consumers want companies to do when they consider responsible behaviors is treat their employees right by caring for their economic and professional well-being.

Trend #6: Social Media (aka 'Last Friday Night') –With so many people involved with social media platforms, the big challenge for HR and companies in general is that you no longer control your brand.  But for companies that embrace this idea as an opportunity the returns in terms of productivity, community and engagement can be huge. There’s a great write up from Balakrishna Narasimhan (@bnara75) about HR and social media here.  And speaking of Last Friday Night, check out Workday's flash mob video and prepare for some serious flash mob envy.

Trend #7: Engagement (aka 'Prosperity') – We’ve been talking about engagement for so long it hardly feels like a trend anymore but I’m going to go out on a limb and say 2012 is the year companies actually do something about it.  At least, I hope so because disengagement’s expensive.  Whereas not only can an engaged workforce supercharge an individual company it actually has the power to create prosperity, which should be everyone’s goal in 2012. Enough destruction of wealth already, it’s time to create more jobs, get talented people into them and show a little appreciation.  Easy peasy.

Here’s to exciting times ahead!  Are you ready?


  1. See there you go again with all of you big Company big girl problems while I struggle with things like PRICE. We certainly see thing from different vantage points sometimes - don't we? Good stuff though from LS, I took the easy way out! :-)

  2. Aw, big companies worry about price, too.


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